Max Verstappen delivered a faultless drive in front of a packaged Zandvoort to take a hugely popular home victory in the Dutch Grand Prix, beating title Lewis Hamilton by more than 20 seconds after the Mercedes driver made a late pit stop to salvage the point for fastest lap. Third place went to Valtteri Bottas in the second Mercedes.
At the start of the race, pole sitter Verstappen made a superb getaway to take the lead. Hamilton also made a good start but as he and Bottas jostled for position through the first two corners Verstappen was allowed to power ahead and by the end of the opening lap the Dutch drivers has established a 1.7s gap to Hamilton.
Behind the top three, AlphaTauri’s Pierre Gasly got away well to hold fourth place ahead of the Ferraris of Charles Leclerc and Carlos Sainz. At the back of the field Sergio Pérez in the second Red Bull was forced to start from the pit lane after an overnight engine change but as he passed the Haas of Nikita Mazepin in the early laps he flat-spotted a tyres and had to pit for an early switch to medium tyres. It was the start of an impressively long first stint for the Mexican driver as he launched a recovery drive.
At the front the order was stable, with Verstappen holding a 3.5s lead over Hamilton. Bottas began to drift off the front pair, however, and by lap 18 he was more than seven seconds adrift of his team-mate.
Then, at the end of lap 20, Hamilton dived for the pits and made the switch to medium tyres. Red Bull responded by pitting Versatppen on the next lap and he saw off the undercut to rejoin two seconds ahead of Hamilton.
Pérez, meanwhile, was making stealthy progress through the pack and by lap 25 he was up to 14th place. His progress picked up two laps later when Aston Martin’s Lance Stroll, Williams’ George Russell and Alfa Romeo’s Antonio Giovinazzi pitted ahead of him. He rose to P11 and began to hunt down McLaren’s Lando Norris. He swiftly closed up to the McLaren, but having started on medium tyres, Norris was going long and he was able to match the Red Bull driver’s times.
As the race passed half distance Verstappen was once again told to push as it became clear that Mercedes were plotting a second attempt at undercutting the Dutchman. Hamilton pitted at the end of lap 39 for a set of medium tyres but thanks to a set of potent laps Verstappen was able to make his own pit stop, for hartd tyres, of lap 40 and once againm he emerged with a clear gap to his championship rival.
Further back, Norris finally made his sole stop for tyres on lap 43 and Pérez could race into clear air.
The Mexican made his sole visit to the pit lane at the end of lap 48 and took on a set of soft tyres. He rejoined in P12 and quickly passed Russell to relaunch his assault on the points positions. He soon began to exert pressure on McLaren’s Daniel Ricciardo and on lap 56 passed the Australian to claim P9.
His next target was the Australian’s team-mate, Norris, and over the next 10 laps he turned a sizeable deficit into a gap of just half a second before again passing on the around the outside of Turn 1. His final mission was to get past Alpine’s Esteban Ocon and in the final laps the Red Bull driver passed the Frenchman to claim eighth place.
In those closing stages Hamilton closed to within 1.5 seconds of the lead RBR16B but with his tyres fading and Max expertly managing the gap, the Mercedes driver eventually abandoned his pursuit of victory and pitted for soft tyres.
Hamilton took the fastest lap point on the final tour of Zandvoort, but Verstappen’s seventh win of the season puts him back on top of the Drivers’ Championship standings with 224.5 points to Hamilton’s 221.5. In the Constructors’ Championship Mercedes still top the standings with 244.5 points, 12 ahead of Red Bull Racing.
With Bottas third at the flag, fourth place went to AlphaTauri’s Pierre Gasly. The French driver also put in an impressive drive to finish ahead of the Ferrari of Charles Leclerc and the Alpine of Fernando Alonso. Seventh place went to Carlos Sainz in the second Ferrari and with Checo in P8 the final two points places went to Ocon and Norris.
2021 FIA Formula 1 Dutch Grand Prix – Race
1 Max Verstappen Red Bull/Honda 72 1:30'05.395
2 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 72 1:30'26.327 20.932
3 Valtteri Bottas Mercedes 72 1:31'01.855 56.460
4 Pierre Gasly AlphaTauri/Honda 71 1:30'17.183 1 lap /11.788
5 Charles Leclerc Ferrari 71 1:30'22.175 1 lap /16.780
6 Fernando Alonso Alpine/Renault 71 1:30'50.864 1 lap /45.469
7 Carlos Sainz Ferrari 71 1:30'52.896 1 lap /47.501
8 Sergio Pérez Red Bull/Honda 71 1:30'53.479 1 lap /48.084
9 Esteban Ocon Alpine/Renault 71 1:30'54.465 1 lap /49.070
10 Lando Norris McLaren/Mercedes 71 1:30'57.725 1 lap /52.330
11 Daniel Ricciardo McLaren/Mercedes 71 1:31'10.322 1 lap /1'04.927
12 Lance Stroll Aston Martin/Mercedes 70 1:30'22.717 2 laps /17.322
13 Sebastian Vettel Aston Martin/Mercedes 70 1:30'24.941 2 laps /19.546
14 Anotnio Giovinazzi Alfa Romeo/Ferrari 70 1:30'33.172 2 laps /27.777
15 Robert Kubica Alfa Romeo/Ferrari 70 1:31'05.853 2 laps /1'00.458
16 Nicholas Latifi Williams/Mercedes 70 1:31'07.745 2 laps /1'02.350
17 George Russell Williams/Mercedes 69 1:29'55.249 3 laps
18 Mick Schumacher Haas/Ferrari 69 1:31'08.196 3 laps /1'02.801
Yuki Tsunoda AlphaTauri/Honda 48 1:02'36.678 Transmission
Nikita Mazepin Haas/Ferrari 41 54'07.352 Hydraulics