Max Verstappen took victory in front of his home crowd for the second year running in a controversial race at Circuit Zandvoort last Sunday.
The Red Bull driver started from Pole, alongside Championship rival, Charles Leclerc.
With both the title protagonists starting on the soft compound tyre, and on a track such as Zandvoort, whoever exited the first corner in the lead was likely to go on to win the race.
As expected, Verstappen not only led the race at Turn 1, but by Lap 3, he was already a full second ahead of Leclerc. Come Lap 15, Carlos Sainz, Leclerc’s teammate at Ferrari, entered the pits from P3, just under 7-seconds behind his teammate. Unfortunately for the Spaniard, the Ferrari pit crew took over 12-seconds to change his soft tyres to mediums. This misery was compounded as the Red Bull of Sergio Perez followed Sainz into the pits and had the same tyre change in 2-seconds. This mistake in the Ferrari strategy effectively removed Sainz’s hopes of his 8th podium appearance of the season.
On Lap 18, Leclerc pits while being 5-seconds behind Verstappen. Red Bull responded by pitting Verstappen from the lead, and he can maintain his lead over the Ferrari.
Among the Ferrari vs Red Bull chaos, Mercedes, who started both their drivers on the medium compound then inherited the lead following Verstappen’s stop. Despite not having the pace of the teams above them in the Constructor’s Championship, Mercedes remain keen to show their presence at the front of the grid by keeping Red Bull and Ferrari on their toes when it comes to strategy.
Sir Lewis Hamilton was in the lead of the Dutch Grand Prix until he pitted on Lap 30, changing onto the Hard compound tyres, returning the lead to Verstappen. George Russell, Hamilton’s teammate, pitted on the following lap, also swapping his mediums for a set of hards, looking to remain on those tyres until the end of the race. Leclerc pits on Lap 46 for hards, promoting Hamilton and Russell to P2 and P3 respectively.
The drama began when Yuki Tsunoda of Alpha Tauri was forced to retire his car, pulling over to the side of the track, which brought out the Virtual Safety Car. This allowed Verstappen to pit onto hards, as well as both Mercedes to change to new sets of mediums.
By the time that racing resumed on Lap 50/72, Hamilton had 12-seconds to make up on the race leader, but the drama was not over, as Valtteri Bottas of Alpha Romero stopped his car at the end of the main straight on Lap 55, bringing out the full Safety Car.
This allowed Verstappen to pit for a set of softs, which allowed Hamilton to take the lead. Russell pitted from P2 on the following lap for softs, allowing Verstappen a clear run at Hamilton upon the restart.
The vast majority the grid also pitted for softs, including Sainz who could have been allowed to regain a podium which he thought was lost. Unfortunately for him, this wasn’t to be, as the Ferrari pit crew released Sainz into the Pit Lane unsafely into the path of Alpine’s Fernando Alonso, earning him a 5-second time penalty.
Once racing resumed on Lap 61, Verstappen breezed past Hamilton, retaking the lead by the exit of Turn 1, a position the Dutchman would retain as he crossed the line to win his 10th race in 2022. Hamilton, after being left out on inferior tyres also found himself being passed by his teammate for P2, as well as Leclerc for P3. Hamilton ended in P4 and Sainz, after finishing P5 on track, ended P8 due to his penalty.
P5 was claimed by Perez, followed by Alonso (P7) and McLaren’s Lando Norris (P8). The final points paying positions were taken by Alpine’s Esteban Ocon (P9), and Aston Martin’s Lance Stroll (P10).
Feature Image Credit: Formula 1