Max Verstappen came home victorious in an exhilarating Dutch Grand Prix keeping the Mercedes threat at bay.
Formula 1 returned to Zandvoort for the 2022 Dutch Grand Prix, and it was the home hero who won for 2nd time in a row.
The 72-lap racing action came down to the wire. Thanks to a late safety car and a rather controversial decision by Mercedes and George Russell assuring Verstappen the race win.
The Dutch extended his championship lead. He now has four wins in a row and a total of 10 wins this season.
Verstappen is just in another league
At this point, anyone can say that Max Verstappen is running away with the Championship.
Belgian GP was a dominating performance of Red Bull. But there is a catch. Spa suited RB18’s design and strengths. However, Zandvoort was a completely different challenge all along.
Red Bull might have been the fastest car at Zandvoort but Ferrari was not that far. However, Verstappen of 2022 is just driving in another league.
Verstappen pulled away at the start of the race and held onto the lead for a long time. However, the real challenge came from Silver Arrows. The Mercedes duo posed threat to Verstappen as the Dutch lost his lead to Hamilton after an early pitstop on lap 19.
Nevertheless, Verstappen and Red Bull held their nerve amidst a late Virtual Safety Car and Safety Car. The Dutch chased down his title rival from last year after the safety car restart and retook the lead on lap 61.
Verstappen held the lead to the end of the race to come home victorious.
After the race Max Verstappen was quoted saying:
“It was not a straightforward race. We had to push the whole race. Of course, with Safety Car, the Virtual Safety Car making the right calls, it was always a bit of question mark but it worked out really well once we got back to the soft tyres, we had great pace again.
“It’s always special to win your home Grand Prix, it was already last year. This year I have to say I had to work for it even more. So yeah, an incredible weekend and really happy we got the Dutch Grand Prix”
Verstappen now has 10 wins this season equaling his last season’s win tally with 7 more races to go.
Ferrari troubles continue
This time out in Zandvoort we were expecting a close battle between Verstappen and Leclerc. The duo had locked in the front row after a really close Qualifying.
However, Ferrari just did not seem to have the pace to challenge Verstappen and even Mercedes. An extended stint by Mercedes on Mediums played against Ferrari.
Carlos Sainz was running in P3. However, the Spaniard was struggling to keep up with the pace of leaders. Moreover, Lewis Hamilton was constantly coming closer to the Ferrari driver. So, Sainz went into pits on lap 15.
He was still in contention for a podium finish if it wasn’t for a disastrous 12.7 seconds pitstop by Scuderia.
Leclerc pitted on lap 17 after seeming to lose time to both Verstappen and Hamilton. His pitstop was neat. Verstappen also followed the Monegasque driver into the pits on lap 19.
In the remaining race, Sainz kept trying to make up for the lost time due to the disastrous stop.
Nevertheless, the evening was going to get even worse for Sainz. An unsafe release while pitting during the Safety car ended with Sainz receiving a 5-seconds time penalty.
This resulted in the Spaniard losing his 5th position at the end of the race, the position he made up after the Safety car restarted overtaking Perez.
Leclerc on the other hand managed to get on the podium as Lewis Hamilton struggled on his medium tyres to hold off the Monegasque. Leclerc had pitted under a safety car for softs whereas Hamilton didn’t.
Charles Leclerc’s P3 was a rather satisfactory finish given how the Ferrari suffered a lack of pace compared to Mercedes and Red Bull.
Hard day for Hamilton as Mercedes yet again seemed close to a win
Mercedes again started on Mediums while their rivals chose Softs. This strategy again worked in favor of Mercedes as Silver Arrows were looking at a probable stop race strategy.
Both the drivers extended their stints on medium tyres inheriting the lead on lap 19 after Verstappen pitted.
Lewis Hamilton fitted hard tyres on lap 30 followed by Russell on lap 32. The duo was en route to finishing the race on hards. Verstappen meanwhile inherited the lead.
However, a Virtual Safety Car was triggered by Tsunoda after stopping on track then going to the pits then again stopping on track. The VSC worked in favor of Verstappen as the Dutch was able to fit fresh hards on lap 49.
However, Mercedes was quick to respond as Hamilton and Russel were also fitted with a fresh set of mediums. This meant that Verstappen was in lead but was now chased by the Mercedes duo who were on faster and fresher tyres.
Nevertheless, things again played in favor of Verstappen as this time a safety car was triggered due to Valtteri Bottas losing power on the main straight and standing stationary there on lap 56. The Dutch fitted Soft tyres this time.
Mercedes firstly decided to take track position and go for a possible win with Lewis Hamilton and decided not to pit both the drivers.
George Russell however made his own call looking at the situation and decided to pit for softs. This left Lewis Hamilton free for Max Verstappen to chase down. Verstappen had both fresher and faster tyres than Hamilton and chased down the Briton right after the safety car ended on lap 61.
One can argue that pitting Russell was not the right choice as it left Hamilton open to attack from Verstappen. But, we are talking about 2022 Max Verstappen chasing you on soft tyres. Verstappen would have eventually overtaken both the Mercedes anyways.
Russell foresaw it and decided to take the softs to assure himself a P2 finish. Hamilton, however, suffered and eventually dropped back to P4.
Hamilton was certainly not happy with this decision.
Other stories from the Dutch Grand Prix
Ricciardo’s struggles continue. The Australian qualified and finished the race in P17 while Norris came home to secure P7 behind Fernando Alonso and ahead of Carlos Sainz In P8.
It seems clear if McLaren wants to fight for P4 in constructors, Norris has to do it alone.
Aston Martin’s Lance Stroll also gave a commendable performance. The Canadian driver came home to secure P10 after getting his second Q3 appearance of 2022 earlier on Saturday.
Sebastian Vettel, his teammate, finished at P14 after a 5-second time penalty added to his time.
For full results of the race, click here.
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