Home hero Max Verstappen saw off the threat posed by Lewis Hamilton to win the Dutch Grand Prix and reclaim the Formula 1 drivers’ championship lead.
The Dutchman had lost first place in the standings back in Hungary, but closed back in on Hamilton after the Spa ‘non-race’ and took a three-point lead out of Zandvoort, which hosted its first F1 race since 1985.
Verstappen had managed a solid enough launch off the line at the start, and covered off Hamilton with ease, before stretching away to a lead of over a second and a half through the opening lap.
The gap soon stabilised at three seconds, and remained around that mark until Hamilton came into the pits on lap 20, to swap from softs to mediums. But Verstappen made the same move a lap later and, aided by a right front hold-up during Hamilton’s stop, remained comfortably ahead as he rejoined.
However, Valtteri Bottas – who had kept up with the leading duo early on but then swiftly began to drop away, and was then told “at this pace, we’re not going to interact with the leader” – had stayed out, Mercedes stretching his opening stint long enough for Verstappen and Hamilton to arrive at the back of the Finn.
Yet Verstappen needed little time to clear the soft-shod Bottas, getting the move done with DRS on the main straight at the end of the 30th lap, with Bottas immediately waving Hamilton through and then pitting at the end of the lap.
With the two lead cars seemingly committed to two-stops, Mercedes instructed Bottas to remain in Verstappen’s pit window – but the Finn fell back when he had to take avoiding action over the top of the banked Hugenholtz corner, as Sebastian Vettel spun trying to pass Robert Kubica and blocked most of the ‘oval’.
— Formula 1 (@F1) September 5, 2021
On lap 39, Mercedes attempted another undercut with Hamilton, swapping him to a set of mediums – something that was not an option for Red Bull. But the reigning champion came out in the middle of lapped traffic, and Verstappen’s own stop a lap later preserved a sizable gap.
While airing his dissatisfaction with the timing of the second stop, Hamilton did put Verstappen, now running on tyres a step harder, under a hint of pressure as the pair made their way past backmarkers, but ultimately tailed off.
Bottas was the final car on the lead lap in third, and was ordered to abort a fastest lap attempt by Mercedes at the end, with Hamilton’s late pitstop enabling him to claim the extra point instead.
AlphaTauri driver Pierre Gasly converted a fourth-place start into a fourth-place finish, despite having to run the mediums for as many as 47 laps in his second and final stint.
Charles Leclerc finished five seconds behind Gasly in fifth for Ferrari, but while team-mate Carlos Sainz ran in sixth behind him for most of the race, he began to struggle on his set of hards late on and slipped behind Fernando Alonso in the Alpine.
Sergio Perez, starting from the pitlane, would recover to eighth at the finish, passing Esteban Ocon (Alpine) late on, even though the Mexican’s initial strategy of starting on the hard tyre was compromised when he locked up and flat-spotted the rubber while chasing Nikita Mazepin (Haas) early on.
HUGE lock up from Sergio Perez 👀
— Formula 1 (@F1) September 5, 2021
McLaren driver Lando Norris went long on his starting set of mediums, and ultimately salvaged 10th, effectively at the expense of team-mate Daniel Ricciardo and having touched wheels with Perez when the latter went through at Turn 1 in the closing stages.
Seventh-place starter Antonio Giovinazzi was blocked harshly by Sainz through Turn 5 on the opening lap, slipping behind Alonso and then letting through Ocon and Ricciardo when Alonso had a wobble through Turn 6.
His race was then further compromised by an unscheduled second stop due to a puncture, and he could only finish 14th, with stand-in team-mate Kubica – replacing Kimi Raikkonen after the Finn’s positive COVID-19 test – completing the top 15.
Despite the challenging nature of the track, only two cars failed to be classified, with Yuki Tsunoda (AlphaTauri) and Mazepin both pulling over due to apparent mechanical issues.
|Pos||Name||Car||Laps||Laps Led||Total Time||Fastest Lap||Pitstops||Pts|
|1||Max Verstappen||Red Bull-Honda||72||63||1h30m05.395s||1m13.275s||2||25|
|4||Pierre Gasly||AlphaTauri-Honda||71||0||+1 lap||1m14.818s||1||12|
|5||Charles Leclerc||Ferrari||71||0||+1 lap||1m14.78s||1||10|
|6||Fernando Alonso||Alpine-Renault||71||0||+1 lap||1m14.323s||1||8|
|7||Carlos Sainz Jr.||Ferrari||71||0||+1 lap||1m15.26s||1||6|
|8||Sergio Pérez||Red Bull-Honda||71||0||+1 lap||1m13.461s||2||4|
|9||Esteban Ocon||Alpine-Renault||71||0||+1 lap||1m14.675s||1||2|
|10||Lando Norris||McLaren-Mercedes||71||0||+1 lap||1m14.236s||1||1|
|11||Daniel Ricciardo||McLaren-Mercedes||71||0||+1 lap||1m14.92s||1||0|
|12||Lance Stroll||Aston Martin-Mercedes||70||0||+2 laps||1m15.611s||1||0|
|13||Sebastian Vettel||Aston Martin-Mercedes||70||0||+2 laps||1m13.958s||2||0|
|14||Antonio Giovinazzi||Alfa Romeo-Ferrari||70||0||+2 laps||1m15.125s||2||0|
|15||Robert Kubica||Alfa Romeo-Ferrari||70||0||+2 laps||1m15.442s||1||0|
|16||Nicholas Latifi||Williams-Mercedes||70||0||+2 laps||1m15.79s||1||0|
|17||George Russell||Williams-Mercedes||69||0||+3 laps||1m15.628s||3||0|
|18||Mick Schumacher||Haas-Ferrari||68||0||+4 laps||1m15.927s||2||0|