In what was his fourth win on the trot, reigning champion Max Verstappen rose to the occasion as he triumphed at the Zandvoort to commemorate his return to his home soil at the Dutch Grand Prix 2022.
Starting from pole, the Dutchman had a stellar start and comfortably kept the Ferrari duo at bay. Charles Leclerc was on the chase, meanwhile, his teammate Carlos Sainz made contact with Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton at Turn 1. There was no damage to either of the cars, whatsoever.
Ferrari’s strategic woes seemed far from over as Carlos Sainz was compromised as he boxed for a rather horrid pit stop which lasted 12.7 seconds during Lap 15 as the mechanics were not prepared with a rear left tyre for the Spaniard owing to what Ferrari chief Mattia Binnoto described as “a very, very late call”.
Hamilton, on the other hand, after a long drought, seemed close to having found his first victory since the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix in 2021 as he gained and lost the lead during a quick succession of virtual and full safety car periods.
The Mercedes duo had the 1-2 occupied when Valterri Bottas’ engine packed in Lap 57, forcing a full safety car. Red Bull capitalised on the opportunity and boxed Verstappen for a fresh set of softs. George Russel, too, made a last-minute call and switched to a set soft compound. Meanwhile, Mercedes decided to keep Hamilton, who was leading the race at this point, on his scrub set of mediums, sticking to its one-stop strategy.
On the restart, Verstappen and Russell, both on quicker tyres, breezed past the seven-time world champion. The Brit’s afternoon was further spoiled as Charles Leclerc made a move on him to take the third position. The 37-year-old Mercedes driver went from being on the verge of winning the race to narrowly losing out on a podium, finishing fourth.
Sergio Perez crossed the finish line at fifth while Sainz despite finishing at P6 on track, was demoted to P8 after being slapped a 5-second penalty for an unsafe release at a pit stop earlier in the race. Alpine’s Fernando Alonso had a fine outing as he finished at P6 having started on P14. Meanwhile, McLaren’s Lando Norris converted his P7 from the qualifying, keeping the constructor in the race for top 4.
Esteban Ocon gained four positions and finished ninth while Aston Martin’s Lance Stroll grabbed the last point on the table finishing tenth. Pierre Gasly finished eleventh followed by Alex Albon, Mick Schumacher, Sebastian Vettel, and Kevin Magnussen. Haas seemed to have upped their game over this weekend after a brief period of dismay.
Alfa Romeo’s Zhou Guanyu occupied the sixteenth spot while Daniel Ricciardio and Nicholas Latifi followed him to claim P17 and P18.