F1 2021 Dutch Grand Prix: Max Verstappen wins comfortably on home ground

Max Verstappen regained the drivers championship lead after he managed to hold off his championship rival, Lewis Hamilton, in his home grand prix in the Netherlands.

Robert Kubica started 16th on the grid as the Polish driver came in to replace the Covid-strikened Kimi Raikkonen who is self-isolating in his hotel room.

It was a great start for Verstappen as the field pulled around the first corner and the Dutch driver started to push out a gap. By the end of the first lap, Verstappen had grown his lead out to 1.7 seconds between himself and, title-rival, Lewis Hamilton.

On the fifth lap, Haas’ Mick Schumacher became the first driver to pit as he made a front wing change, as a result the German driver was quickly lapped on the eighth lap. While Hamilton was struggling to keep up with Verstappen as the Dutchman had pushed out a three second gap.

Sergio Perez, Red Bull, made his first mandatory pit stop on the 10th lap as the Mexican swapped his durable hard compound tyres for the medium set. This was because the second Red Bull driver had locked up massively up into the first corner.

Hamilton made his first stop of the race on lap 21, with a 3.6-second stop, as the seven-time world champion swapped his soft compound tyres for the medium set. Fortunately, the leading Mercedes driver returned to the track well ahead of Alpha Tauri’s Pierre Gasly.

In response to Hamilton’s stop, Verstappen boxed a lap later to reduce the chance of an undercut from the seven-time world champion. With a slightly quicker stop, Verstappen returned to the track comfortably ahead of Hamilton.

Due to the early stops, it looked likely that the grand prix in the Dutch dunes would be a two-stop race.

In a bid to regain the lead of the race, Verstappen caught up to the Finnish Mercedes of Valtteri Bottas on lap 30 but he was unable to make a move into Tarzan (turn one). But a lap later, the Dutch driver was able to make the a move stick down the pit straight, on the right hand side of the track. As the Finn held up the Dutchman, Hamilton had managed to catch up the the leading Red Bull on lap 31.

In a fantastic display of teamwork, once Verstappen had passed Bottas, the second Mercedes driver moved off the racing line to allow Hamilton through as the top three drivers headed into the second corner.

After being found speeding in the pit lane, Williams’ George Russell was slapped with a five-second time penalty.

Hamilton made his second pit stop of the race on lap 40, swapping for a fresh set of Medium tyres.

However, the Briton had to pass backmarkers as he returned back onto the track. Verstappen responded a lap later but didn’t have another set of fresh mediums to put on the Red Bull so the team opted for the hard compound tyres.

On lap 44, Haas’ Nikita Mazepin stopped in the pit lane for the last time this weekend as the driver retired from the race with hydraulic issues. Alpha Tauri’s Yuki Tsunoda became the second car to retire from the race as the Japanese driver reported issues with his power unit, on lap 51.

Despite the complaints coming from Hamilton, the seven-time world champion had cut the three-second gap down to just over a 1.8 seconds on the 58th lap.

In the dying laps of the race, Hamilton had to pit for a set of soft tyres as Bottas had secured the fastest lap, on lap 71. Hamilton regained the fastest lap, on the final lap, with a blistering 1:11.097 lap – which could be critical for the championship at the end of the season.

Although Hamilton had the quicker medium tyres, he was unable to topple the Dutchman from the lead of the race as Verstappen became the race winner of the Dutch Grand Prix. As a result the Red Bull driver regained the championship lead with 224.5 points, three points more than Hamilton.

Podium:

  1. Max Verstappen (Red Bull)
  2. Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes)
  3. Valtteri Bottas (Mercedes)

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