Status: 05.09.2021 4:59 p.m.
In Zandvoort’s sea of jubilation, Crown Prince Max Verstappen regained the Formula 1 top with the longed-for home win. The Dutch Red Bull star raced on Sunday in front of title rival Lewis Hamilton to his seventh win of the season and drove the tens of thousands on the dune course into ecstasy.
All tactical attacks by Mercedes and even an attempt to block by Hamilton’s team-mate Valtteri Bottas could not slow Verstappen in front of the eyes of the Dutch royal couple.
“Nice 72 laps here”, the Verstappen radioed, laughing with joy, to the pits. “That was epic,” praised team boss Christian Horner. The 23-year-old Verstappen relegated the still 99-time Grand Prix winner Hamilton and Bottas to second and third place at the Dutch Grand Prix.
Vettel missed the points as 13th
After the racing farce in the rainy Spa a week ago, the Belgian-born Verstappen spoiled his fans with a flawless drive and is now ahead of Hamilton in the classification ahead of the classic in Italy next Sunday.
The bright orange party on the North Sea was a spectacular return for Formula 1 to the time before Corona, but not a glamorous weekend for the German driver duo. Four-time world champion Sebastian Vettel missed the points in the Aston Martin in 13th, Mick Schumacher was last in the Haas.
75,000 fans in the stands
The Oranje fans in Zandvoort
The viewers had no eyes for that anyway. Close to each other and mostly without a mask, 75,000 fans raged in the stands, long before the start of the race, swaths of intoxication were pulling over the banked curves in Oranje. 36 years after the last guest appearance in Zandvoort, when Niki Lauda had achieved the last victory of his career, the Verstappen euphoria was boiling for the moment.
With the nerve-racking drive to pole position, he had already thrilled the fans in qualifying and raised hopes for a Dutchman’s first win at home. Before the start of the race, he showed King Willem-Alexander and Queen Maxima his Red Bull.
Verstappen defends lead at the start
When the red lights went out, he pulled away with his car immediately and turned into the first bend as the clear leader. Behind him Hamilton, who lost another meter on Verstappen when accelerating out of the right bend. Verstappen was 1.7 seconds ahead of Hamilton after the first lap. With that, the Briton was already outside the overtaking window of a maximum of one second.
And Verstappen kept flying over the course. The 1000th lap in the career of the Dutchman who entered Formula 1 in 2015 at the age of just 17 was just one more step on the way to winning the World Cup after nine laps.
Masepin breaks Schumacher’s front wing
Hamilton just couldn’t make it, while further back in the field the German-Russian Haas duo caused less of a sensation than a lack of understanding. After the quarrel between Mick Schumacher and Nikita Masepin on Saturday, the Russian broke the front wing of the record world champion’s son in a highly dangerous maneuver near the pit wall. Mick Schumacher had to go into the pits and was overtaken by Verstappen after only nine laps.
Lewis Hamilton in Zandvoort
Hamilton drew the only trump card he initially seemed to have: pit before Verstappen. However, it took his crew almost a second longer than that of Verstappen, who came in a lap later to change tires. At least Hamilton was able to shorten the gap from well over three seconds to under two.
Verstappen collects Bottas
So now Bottas should do the Verstappen blocker. Mercedes had left the Finn, who still has no new contract for the next season, on the track with the worn out tires. Bottas also tried everything, but at the end of the banked curve he had to let Verstappen pass – the fans jumped out of their seats and celebrated the maneuver of their local hero. Hamilton also raced past Bottas, but immediately lost time on the leader in the Red Bull.
“He was lucky with the traffic,” radioed the 36-year-old, who then tried again with a pit stop in front of Verstappen. Again, nothing, Red Bull and Verstappen defended their lead and lead. The radio traffic between Hamilton and the Mercedes command post was booming. Especially since Bottas then also turned the fastest lap with fresh tires – despite the opposite team order, and thus drove Hamilton to his best performance on one lap, while Verstappen enjoyed the last kilometers in the sea of jubilation on the North Sea dunes.
The third race in three weeks after the summer break is already on the coming Sunday in Monza.