The moment has finally came, it it is finally race day for the Dutch GP here at the sunny track of Zandvoort. It has been a busy weekend for all of us, filled with red flags, many unknowns and amazing atmosphere provided by the thousands of Dutch fans that showed up in support of the local Hero Max Verstappen.
Perez and Latifi will begin their race from the pitlane, after a PU change for Perez and wing change for Latifi. They will surely have a difficult task today, since overtaking at Zandvoort is not an easy piece of cake. Fortunately for them, this race is truly a big question mark for everybody, and if there is a one place in the calendar where ANYTHING can happen, it is definitely here at Zandvoort. Hopefully that will mean a somehow eventful race for all of us.
The pictures of the drivers having their way to the grid while engulfed by the clouds of orange flare smoke and the sound of fans having a good time is definitely an indication of how important the GP is here. All that being said, let’s hope for safe, but exciting race.
Start of the race and the most important information for all of the Dutch fans here is that Verstappen remains P1. The first 6 has remained in the same positions, but Giovinazzi started to drop down the grid almost immediately. Somebody reported that it seemed that Ricciardo had some issues with his car, as it seemed like a big cloud of oil smoke was getting out of it, which eventually turned out to be okay.
Schumacher was the first one to pit. After the first laps, Perez and Latifi, who started from the pitlane, were able to so far overtake only Schumacher, when he pitted. Perez was also one to pit early, as well as Vettel. Already early on we’ve heard some complains: Ocon about Alonso holding him back, some drivers already having issues with the tyres.
20 laps into the race, Verstappen remained P1, with Hamilton and Bottas P2 and P3. Bottas was earlier on instructed through his radio that if he will keep the tempo he had, he will not be able to fight with the race leaders. By lap 21 Hamilton went to swap tyres, and was able to come back at P3 despite a slow pitstop by Mercedes. On lap 22 it was Verstappen who went for a pitstop, and was able to stay ahead of Hamilton. Perez began his flying overtaking stint that at that point (by lap 24) put him in the 14th place (ahead of Tsunoda, Kubica, Mazepin, Vettel, Latifi and Schumacher). By lap 25-29 a few more drivers went for their pits, including Gasly, Stroll, Russell and Giovinazzi.
By lap 31 Verstappen was able to regain his position as a leader, after passing Bottas at the main straight. Bottas inevitably lost another position, for the sake of Hamilton. Bottas went to pit by lap 32. Sainz and Ocon had their first pitstops by lap 32 as well, and Tsunoda by lap 33. During that time, the only drivers that did not pit were: Leclerc, Alonso, Norris, Kubica and Mazepin.
Russell received a 5s penalty for speeding in the pitlane. He was on 12th position at that time, so that will have a big impact on his race result. At lap 37, Vettel had a spin in turn 3 and momentarily caused a yellow flag, but he was able to continue the race.
After half of the race has passed, the current situation was: Verstappen, Hamilton, Bottas, Gasly, Leclerc, Sainz, Norris, Perez, Alonso and Ocon.
At lap 40, Hamilton pitted for the second time. That triggered a response by Red Bull, who pitted Verstappen at lap 41. Verstappen pitted for hards, while Hamilton pitted for mediums.
Lap 44 and it's the end of the race for Nikita Mazepin, as he gets rolled back into the garage. Russell and Norris were getting a little race-y with each other, but eventually there was no move from Russell’s side. Ocon reported issues with his front left brake, due to a plastic bag that flown onto the track. After another pitstop Perez dropped to P12 from P7. Norris was able to jump into the points with P9, followed by his teammate Ricciardo on P10, but the race is still not over.
By lap 50, it was race over for another driver - Yuki Tsunoda. At that time, it was still Verstappen ahead of Hamilton and Bottas. Despite complaints from Hamilton, he still had a great pace, setting faster lap times than Verstappen. Ricciardo found himself in a difficult position, trying to hold Perez behind him while Norris was charging to catch Ocon ahead of him. But by lap 56, he had to give in, and was passed by Perez in Red Bull. So far impressive job from Perez, climbing from the back to P10 at that stage of the race.
10 laps to go, and there were not many changes, especially in the top 10. At that time, it was Verstappen leading, with Hamilton +4.44s behind, then Bottas, Gasly, Leclerc, Sainz, Alonso, Ocon, Norris and Perez. Leclerc has been slowly catching up with Gasly, Alonso with Sainz and Perez with Norris. The end of the race might have an interesting outcome. By lap 66, Perez had a move on Norris and took the P9 out from the Brit.
Surprisingly, no safety car and no red flags during the race. That was unexpected, looking at how the other sessions during the weekend played out.
Lap 68 and Mercedes pits Bottas again. Interesting things occurred on track, as after that Bottas went for the fastest lap, even though told not to do so, which caused Hamilton to pit in order to regain the fastest lap. He was able to do so, but regardless of that - Max Verstappen has been the winner of the Dutch GP, followed Lewis Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas.
Final classification after the Dutch GP: