What a home race for Max Verstappen! The Dutch driver collected his seventh seasonal victory at Zandvoort, converting his sixth pole position and breaking the record for most Grand Prix wins without having a championship.
ɴᴏ ᴡᴏʀᴅs 🔥 I’m so happy to win my home Grand Prix and the Orange Army, just incredible 🙌 🧡 It was an amazing team performance, thanks a lot, @redbullracing and @HondaRacingF1 🤘 A day to remember #KeepPushing 🇳🇱 #DutchGP pic.twitter.com/WI1gDEkVUI— Max Verstappen (@Max33Verstappen) September 5, 2021
Verstappen was extremely pleased to perform splendidly with the support of his home crowd, and a very important fan, as he said in the post-race interviews:
"It’s an incredible feeling to win in front of the fans, but also the King was watching with the [royal] family, so just an amazing day. I know the fans, of course they always have high expectations when you come here, they of course want you to win, but it’s never that straightforward before you get here."
The Red Bull driver reckoned that today's fight for the win was extremely hard: title rival Lewis Hamilton pressured him at close distance for almost all the 72 laps completed, pitting in the second last lap to get the extra point awarded for the fastest lap from his teammate.
"You've seen this whole year already, Mercedes and us, we’ve been really close to each other, and to deliver at the end of the day, of course I’m very satisfied, yesterday already with pole but then also to win the race."
The key move to keep the race lead, Verstappen added, was his strong start, that allowed him to secure a two seconds gap in only three laps:
"What was crucial today was first of all the start. And then throughout the race, I was just managing that gap [so they] couldn’t undercut us.”
Hamilton had come to Zandvoort leading the driver's standings, but getting P2 and the bonus point wasn't enough to maintain the gap: after the race he conceded the top spot to Verstappen and he is now three points behind him. Mercedes however retains the constructor's championship lead, with a stronger advantage on Red Bull.
The race winner acknowledged the hard work put in by his rival:
"The whole race, it was quite close between myself and Lewis. He was really putting the pressure on, he was putting some great laps in, I think also after the final stop – at one point [he was] on that medium tyre and I was on the hard tyre, but luckily it was enough at the end. But 72 laps around here, pushing – it was satisfying, it was cool!”
Verstappen is now ready to tackle the last race of the second seasonal triple header at Monza, a track historically hostile to the Austrian team and where he was forced to retire last year for an engine issue. However, he feels optimistic about his and his team's chances of performing well next weekend too:
"Naturally it hasn't been our best track of the calendar the last few years," said Verstappen, whose best F1 result on the Italian circuit is a P5.
“But of course, I know that this year we're more competitive in general everywhere. But nevertheless again, we just need to nail the details and then I'm sure we can be competitive.”