You could be forgiven for thinking the Dutch GP was a festival and not an F1 race. After the ‘non-race’ of Spa, we were all ready for a weekend of drama – with Zandvoort delivering the party atmosphere we’ve all been waiting for. Amongst the sea of orange t-shirts and even brighter orange flares, you could spot the occasional Ferrari or Mercedes fan.
In front of his home crowd for the first Dutch GP since the ‘80s, Max Verstappen dominated the weekend and reclaimed his lead of the championship.
Verstappen dominates as Mercedes struggle with strategy
With Zandvoort returning to the F1 calendar for the first time since 1985, all eyes were on Max Verstappen to deliver in front of his home crowd. The earlier portion of the weekend had been dominated by yellow and red flags, with qualifying delivering several surprises. Perez and Vettel were knocked out at Q1, while Norris failed to make it into Q3.
Verstappen narrowly beat Hamilton for pole position, with Bottas in third and Gasly following closely behind in fourth. The Dutch driver had a convincing win after getting a clean start from pole position. During the race, Verstappen quickly opened up a 2-second lead and led his 1000th race lap.
Mercedes quickly adapted to a two-stop strategy to steal pole from Verstappen, who responded quickly and maintained his lead, easily overtaking Bottas after his first pit stop. Hamilton said post-race that he didn’t have the pace to match the Red Bull and that the Mercedes strategy was lacking.
Verstappen stood on top of the podium, draped in the Dutch flag, as the royal family watched below as the national anthem was performed live. Elsewhere, the Mercedes internal drama continued as Hamilton pitted to go for the fast lap point, with Bottas ordered at the last minute to abort his own fastest lap attempt.
Perez takes engine penalty and scores DOTD
After a disappointing qualifying session that saw him taken out in Q1, Perez took an engine penalty and began from the pit lane. The Red Bull driver offered a repeat performance of last year’s Sakhir Grand Prix, racing through the pack from last place to finish in 8th. Perez provided some of the best moments of the race and was named Driver of the Day.
Pierre Gasly also offered a strong performance, qualifying and finishing in 4th position ahead of Ferrari’s Leclerc. Alonso and Sainz finished in 6th and 7th respectively, with Ocon crossing the finish line in 9th position, ahead of Norris and his teammate Daniel Ricciardo.
Since the Dutch GP, Mercedes has announced that George Russell is replacing Valterri Bottas for the 2022 season. Lewis Hamilton’s current teammate is moving to Alfa Romeo on a multi-year contract, replacing Kimi Raikkonen, who is retiring at the end of the season.
Verstappen now leads the Driver’s Championship by 3 points, while Mercedes continues to lead the Constructors by just 12 points. F1 now goes to Monza for the final race in the three part back-to-back. You can join in with the #OrangeArmy by shopping our Max Verstappen and Red Bull merchandise.