Max Vestappen achieved a dream result in front of the Orange Army with a commanding race win at Zandvoort. The Red Bull driver finished ahead of Lewis Hamilton and retakes the championship lead.
The only major threat to Verstappen’s race arrived after his first pitstop when he resumed behind Valtteri Bottas, but the Mercedes driver was soon cleared with the aid of DRS.
As Hamilton worked around an alternative strategy, which put him on the quicker medium tyres but for a lengthy stint, Verstappen held a 2.5 seconds lead over his title rival, before a late Hamilton pitstop ensured Verstappen seized an eventual victory by 20.9 seconds.
Verstappen perfected his start from the left side of the grid to pull cleanly across in front of Hamilton, who was never close enough to pose a considerable threat into Turn 1 to pass.
That allowed Verstappen to sweep well clear of the chasing Mercedes, with Bottas launching noticeably slower compared to his teammate.
The Red Bull driver extracted a 1.7 seconds advantage come the end of the first lap of 72, which he extended to 2.3 seconds next time around.
At the start, Fernando Alonso soon demoted Alpine teammate Esteban Ocon. Although the Hungarian Grand Prix winner enjoyed the inside line into Turn 1, the pair squeezed through the next kink before Alonso barrelled around the outside of Turn 3 on the high line to secure seventh.
Antonio Giovinazzi was also passed by the two-time champion, having to lift in his Alfa Romeo when he was nosed onto the grass by Carlos Sainz before brushing the rear of Alonso, whose car was on settled over the bumps on the run to Turn 6.
A procession then set in, as Verstappen’s cushion out front peaked at 3.2 seconds on lap 8 before Hamilton was switched over to a two-stop strategy and began to push on his soft tyres.
He was initially 0.4 seconds a lap quicker aboard his Mercedes to bring the gap down to 2.8 seconds, but the difference then stabilised at 2.9 seconds as Verstappen was instructed to respond to match Hamilton’s pace.
Hamilton was called in to pit on lap 21, switching from softs to mediums, but was delayed with a sluggish change of the front-right Pirelli and he resumed in third position, 13 seconds behind Bottas.
Red Bull responded to the Mercedes threat by pitting Verstappen a lap later, also taking the mediums, but a slick service gained him a second and he rejoined with a 10 seconds deficit to Bottas.
Hamilton grabbed fastest lap as the pair closed to Bottas, with the Mercedes driver struggling on his softs but with the potential to delay Verstappen under the instruction to defend “for the race win”.
Verstappen closed to Valtteri’s rear on lap 30, and when the Mercedes driver ran wide at Turn 11, Verstappen could close and pounce with DRS for the lead down the main straight.
Bottas immediately moved aside at Turn 2 to give Hamilton second place, with the seven-time champion 1.5 seconds adrift of Verstappen.
Mercedes called Bottas into the pits on lap 32 for a set of mediums before he was delayed by a second at Turn 3 when he had to thread between the wall and the spinning Aston Martin of a lapped Sebastian Vettel.
Hamilton made his second stop on lap 40, switching for another set of scrubbed mediums, rejoining 2.3 seconds ahead of his teammate before Verstappen again stopped a lap later.
Red Bull shifted his strategy, putting him on the slower hard compound, and he returned to the circuit with a 2.9 seconds over Hamilton.
From there, the Mercedes driver complained periodically about the health of his tyres and the call to pit early, while Verstappen established a solid lead of 3 seconds.
Bottas was furthered delayed by a slow 5 seconds late precautionary stop with five laps to go that came in response to a vibration. However, it gave him a chance to chase fastest lap.
Bottas claimed that by eight tenths, which duly forced Hamilton to pit on the penultimate tour for a charge on soft tyres.
That ensured Verstappen converted his seventh win of the season by 20.9 seconds over Hamilton as the Red Bull driver retook the drivers’ standings lead.
Hamilton was able to snare a point for fastest lap, wresting back the title with a last-gasp one minute, 11.097 seconds that was a second quicker than Bottas’ previous benchmark.
Gasly endured a lonely race to maintain fourth on the grid to the flag, after Bottas completed the podium, while Leclerc headed the Ferrari attack on hard tyres to nail fifth position.
Alonso managed to escape team orders that might have called him to fall behind Ocon, despite the protests of his teammate, as the double champion pounced late on Sainz to secure sixth position.
Perez, who had started from the pitlane following the instalment of a fourth power unit this season, arrived in eighth after a late pass around the outside of Turn 1 on Lando Norris.
Perez’s race was a slow burner after he suffered a vibration on his hard tyres to force an early switch to mediums. But the Red Bull driver was able to use the undercut to good effect before passing Daniel Ricciardo to set up the late dice with Norris.
Ocon eventually slipped to ninth ahead of the McLarens, while Lance Stroll started where he finished in 12th and teammate Vettel recovered from his early spin to P13.
A puncture dropped Alfa qualifying star Giovinazzi from seventh to P14 ahead of stand-in teammate Robert Kubica.
Behind Nicholas Latifi in 16th, George Russell endured a late retirement to join Yuki Tsunoda (power loss) and Nikita Mazepin (hydraulics) on the sidelines.
So congratulations to Max Verstappen by winning with a commanding performance at Zandvoort. The strong crowd support loved every moment and it was the perfect result for Red Bull. By winning the Dutch Grand Prix, Max now retakes the championship lead.
Dutch Grand Prix, race results:
1 Max Verstappen Red Bull-Honda 1:30:05.395
2 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes +20.932s
3 Valtteri Bottas Mercedes +56.460s
4 Pierre Gasly AlphaTauri-Honda +1 lap
5 Charles Leclerc Ferrari +1 lap
6 Fernando Alonso Alpine-Renault +1 lap
7 Carlos Sainz Jr. Ferrari +1 lap
8 Sergio Perez Red Bull-Honda +1 lap
9 Esteban Ocon Alpine-Renault +1 lap
10 Lando Norris McLaren-Mercedes +1 lap
11 Daniel Ricciardo McLaren-Mercedes +1 lap
12 Lance Stroll Aston Martin-Mercedes +2 laps
13 Sebastian Vettel Aston Martin-Mercedes +2 laps
14 Antonio Giovinazzi Alfa Romeo-Ferrari +2 laps
15 Robert Kubica Alfa Romeo-Ferrari +2 laps
16 Nicholas Latifi Williams-Mercedes +2 laps
17 George Russell Williams-Mercedes DNF
18 Mick Schumacher Haas-Ferrari +3 laps
19 Yuki Tsunoda AlphaTauri-Honda DNF
20 Nikita Mazepin Haas-Ferrari DNF