Dutch GP: Max Verstappen tightens his grip on F1 title with home win

Verstappen stormed into Lewis Hamilton in the closing stages after safety car drama to send the 100,000 Dutch fans into a frenzy at Zandvoort.

The 24-year-old was greeted by orange flares and a sea of ​​orange shirts as he crossed the finish line to claim his second successive Dutch Grand Prix victory.

Mercedes’ George Russell equaled his best F1 result with a distant second and Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc came third, leaving Hamilton to finish a disappointing fourth after looking for a while to challenge Verstappen for victory.

“It wasn’t an easy race but we had to push hard,” Verstappen told Sky Sports after the race. “Of course with the safety car, the virtual safety car, making the right choices.

“It’s always special to win your Grand Prix on home soil. This year I had to work even harder for it. An incredible weekend and I’m really happy that we won the Dutch Grand Prix. I am proud to be Dutch.”

Safety car confusion

After a relatively simple start to the race, a series of bizarre events began to unfold on lap 45, when Yuki Tsunoda pulled his car to the side of the track, apparently worried that one of his tires was loose.

With a safety car imminent, Tsunoda was informed by his team that his tires were fine and the Japanese driver continued his race, slowly working his way into the pit lane. The AlphaTauri pit crew checked Tsunoda’s wheels and seat belt, before deciding everything was in working order and sent their man back racing.

However, almost immediately, Tsunoda sensed something was wrong with his car again and his team finally told him to pull over on the track.

Virtual safety saw AlphaTauri parent team Red Bull shave precious seconds off while Verstappen entered the pits for a fresh set of tires and allowed the Dutchman to reappear still in the lead and ahead of Hamilton and Russell.

It was not the end of the drama, however, as engine problems forced Valtteri Bottas to stop his Alfa Romeo on the main straight, causing the safety car to be deployed.

Mercedes kept Hamilton and Russell on the track first, while Red Bull brought Verstappen into the pits for another set of fresh tyres, dropping him to third place.

But Russell entered the pits after requesting fresh tyres, allowing Verstappen a clear run at Hamilton and an easy overtake once the safety car returned and racing resumed.

After seeing his teammate pass him soon after, a furious Hamilton berated his team over the radio. “I can’t believe how much you fuck me,” he said.

“Sorry about that Lewis,” Hamilton race engineer Pete Bonnington told his driver after the race, according to Sky Sports. “It looked good, but we’ll sit down and review the decisions we made there.”

This will be scant consolation, however, as Hamilton is still awaiting his first race victory of the season.

Verstappen’s victory takes his lead at the top of the drivers’ standings to 109 points. With seven races remaining this season, it would take something remarkable to prevent him from claiming his second straight F1 title.

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