Verstappen wins Dutch Grand Prix, leads Championship

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Max Verstappen sits in his vehicle just before the start of the Bahrain Grand Prix in 2016. (Photo courtesy of Mubarak Fahad)
Jesus Coronel

Red Bull Racing’s Max Verstappen cruised to victory in the Dutch Grand Prix Sep. 5, taking the lead in the championship over Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton by three points.

Red Bull trails behind Mercedes in the constructors’ championship despite this victory and Sergio Perez’s eighth place finish after starting in the pit lane.

“The expectations here were so high and that’s not always easy,” Verstappen said in a post-race interview. “But it’s an amazing feeling and the crowd here was incredible as you can see.”

Verstappen and the Red Bull team knew when Mercedes was pitting Hamilton, allowing them to coordinate when to pit Verstappen for a set of medium tires that would essentially guarantee his victory.

Then came a strategy error by the Mercedes team.

After they knew Verstappen would win the race, the team proceeded to pit Valtteri Bottas for a new set of soft tires, but he was told not to get a point for the fastest lap.

He proceeded to get the fastest lap. He was then told by their strategist, James Vowles, to slow down.

Bottas got it anyway, telling Vowles, “I’m just playing around.”

This caused Hamilton to pit for soft tires, taking the fastest lap point back from his teammate.

Though the team maintains their lead in the constructors’ championship, there seems to be a bit of unease within Mercedes’ ranks after Bottas failed to stop his attempt at the fastest lap.

“We tried for a one-stop strategy so it was a long stint for me at the beginning,” Bottas said. “In the end, we didn’t have enough pace to trouble Red Bull.”

Even though Hamilton lost out on the victory, he was thankful for the Dutch fans for being commemorative to him.

“What a race, what a crowd, it’s been an amazing weekend,” he said. “Max did an amazing job, so huge congratulations to him.”

The battle for third place in the championship between McLaren and Ferrari has gotten close with impressive results for Charles Leclerc and Carlos Sainz from Ferrari. Meanwhile, the McLaren duo of Lando Norris and Daniel Ricciardo struggled.

Ferrari is now ahead by 11.5 points.

Aston Martin is quickly falling behind in the battle for fifth as both Sebastian Vettel and Lance Stroll failed to finish in the points.

Alpine drivers Esteban Ocon and Fernando Alonso finished in the points, while AlphaTauri’s Pierre Gasly finished in fourth.

There was tension between Haas teammates Mick Schumacher and Nikita Mazepin after Mazepin accused his teammate of getting in his way in the first round of qualifying Sep. 4.

Schumacher says he isn’t looking to repair the relationship.

With back-to-back wins, Verstappen looks to keep the momentum going heading into the Italian Grand Prix next week. Mercedes are looking to take back the lead in the drivers championship.

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