The World Driver’s Championship would appear to be heading straight back to the Netherlands, as Max Verstappen capped a dominant weekend at Zandvoort with his tenth win of the season while drama unfolded at challengers Mercedes and Ferrari.
Last time out at Spa, the lengthy summer break did not seem to dull the dominance of Red Bull’s Max Verstappen, as he romped to victory in Belgium despite a grid penalty that relegated him to 14th at the start of the race. Ferrari, who’s Charles Leclerc’s title challenge continued to speed away ahead of him with a disappointing finish last week, entered Sunday’s GP flanking Verstappen on pole. A mostly non-descript race, the 2022 Dutch Grand Prix lit up in its latter parts as a safety car invited introduced a rapid game of strategy bingo around the grid that eventually saw Verstappen regain the lead from Lewis Hamilton and romp to victory.
The race found itself comfortably settled within its initial laps as the top seven cars held their positions on the narrow Zandvoort track, with Mercedes the outlier on mediums and enjoying a comfortable level of race pace that ensured their driver pairing of Hamilton and George Russell could take advantage of their opponents’ stops and find themselves at the front of the pack. This continued as Mercedes committed to the one stop strategy and swapped to hard tyres, holding to podium positions whilst Ferrari seemed to slip away as the laps ticked up as in so many cases this season. This early strategy success confounds the team’s later call to split the driver’s strategies for the close of the race following a safety car prompted by Valtteri Bottas’ retirement, a decisive George Russell in O2 calling for a swap to softs that isolated Hamilton ahead of him and provided Max Verstappen in third with a presumably glorious moment of déjà vu as he barrelled pass Hamilton upon the end of the safety car with twelve laps to go. In truth, bar the ebb and flow of the pit stops throughout the race, the Red Bull man always appeared the likely winner, but Hamilton’s mistake allowed a quiet Charles Leclerc to sneak back onto the podium.
Elsewhere, Carlos Sainz slipped into the crowd as an unfortunate early pit stop slowed him irreversibly down the pack, while Sergio Perez once again failed to reignite his early spark that saw him winning races earlier in the campaign. Alpine can once again be pleased with an excellent showing that illustrates the resurgence of Fernando Alonso as a serious points contender, alongside a reliable Esteban Ocon.
The F1 European tour continues with a quick turnaround at Monza next weekend, before jetting off to Singapore as September comes to a close.
1 Max Verstappen, Red Bull Racing, 1:36:42.773 2 George Russell, Mercedes, + 4.071 3 Charles Leclerc, Scuderia Ferrari, +10.929 4 Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes, +13.016 5 Sergio Perez, Red Bull, +18.168 6 Fernando Alonso, Alpine, +18.754 7 Lando Norris, McLaren, +19.306 8 Carlos Sainz, Ferrari, +20.916 9 Esteban Ocon, Alpine, +21.117 10 Lance Stroll, Aston Martin, +22.459 11 Pierre Gasly, AlphaTauri, +27.009 12 Alex Albon, Williams, +30.390 13 Mick Schumacher, Haas, +32.995 14 Sebastian Vettel, Aston Martin, + 36.007 15 Kevin Magnussen, Haas, +36.869 16 Zhou Guanyu, Alfa Romeo Racing, +37.320 17 Daniel Ricciardo, McLaren, +37.764 18 Nicholas Latifi, Williams, + 1 Lap
Valtteri Bottas (Alfa Romeo) and Yuki Tsunoda (Alpha Tauri)