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Verstappen beats Hamilton for home win and ignite Dutch delirium

Verstappen beats Hamilton for home win and ignite Dutch delirium

Verstappen beats Hamilton for home win and ignite Dutch delirium

Verstappen beats Hamilton for home win and ignite Dutch delirium

Max Verstappen sent 70,000 Dutch fans into delirium by securing a home grand prix win to reclaim the lead of the F1 title race from Lewis Hamilton.

In taking the chequered flag for the 17th time with Red Bull, and the sixth time in the past nine races, it sparked a party in the grandstands at Zandvoort.

Verstappen finished 21 seconds clear of runner-up Hamilton, who at least claimed the point for fastest lap, albeit even then there was consternation at the end.

But a three-point lead for the Briton coming into the race has now swung to a three-point deficit going into next weekend's Italian Grand Prix.

Hamilton's team-mate Valtteri Bottas completed the podium to help Mercedes extend its lead in the constructors' championship to 12 points.

From the outset, given the concern the track would not yield overtaking opportunities, it was clear the race would come down to a battle of strategy.

That was even more evident following a clean first lap, notably as Hamilton did not get close enough to challenge Verstappen, unlike their last front-row battle in the British Grand Prix.

On that occasion, a thrilling duel unfolded that resulted in the duo touching wheels and Verstappen crashing into a barrier at 150mph.

There was no such excitement on this occasion, leaving Mercedes to hope that with two cars directly behind Verstappen on pole they had the upper hand with strategy.

After 18 laps, though, Bottas had dropped so far off the pace - just over 10 seconds behind Verstappen - he was told he would not be fighting with the leaders.

Two laps later, Hamilton was called in for his first stop, switching from softs to the mediums, emerging comfortably ahead of fourth-placed Pierre Gasly in his AlphaTauri.

Red Bull naturally covered off Hamilton, pitting Verstappen a lap later, and despite a stop 0.9s quicker, Hamilton's pace was such he had halved the time gap from 3.6s pre-stop to 1.8s by the time they crossed the line next time around.

That promoted Bottas into the lead but on worn soft tyres he fell into the clutches of Verstappen, although the Finn was informed: "You're defending, this is for the race win", in stark contrast to the earlier message.

At the end of lap 30, however, a small error from Bottas into the chicane allowed Verstappen the perfect tow into the start-finish straight to reclaim the lead.

With Hamilton in close attendance, Bottas allowed by his team-mate on the approach to the steeply banked turn three, at which point there was just an eight-tenths-of-a-second gap between the title rivals.

Unsurprisingly, Mercedes pitted Bottas a lap later, slotting back into third place, and then enjoying a narrow escape on lap 36 when Aston Martin's Sebastian Vettel lost the rear of the car through turn three.

Following behind and with Vettel sliding up the banking, Bottas was forced to take a high line, enduring a slight lock-up in doing so but managing to avoid contact.

Up ahead, Verstappen was told to put his foot down, suggesting Red Bull was ready to pull the trigger early on a second stop.

Mercedes took the bait and brought in Hamilton for another set of mediums on lap 39, leading to another immediate response from Red Bull, albeit being forced to take on the hard tyre as that was their only choice.

If Hamilton had hoped to close the 3.131s gap - the time difference after 41 laps - given the compound difference, it failed to work out that way.

It led to anxious radio messages from Hamilton who said: "There doesn't seem to be an advantage. [You] called our bluff too soon."

That was soon followed by: "There was still so much life left in that other tyre. I don't know why you rushed it', to which race engineer Pete Bonnington replied: "We'll talk about it later."

With about 10 laps remaining, it was clear Hamilton's tyres were gone as he dropped to over four seconds behind Verstappen, and from there it was a simple case of consolidating what he had.

Mercedes pulled in Bottas with four laps remaining, though, due to tyre concerns and on soft rubber he went on to set the fastest lap, despite being told to abort his attempt late on so as not to take the fastest-lap point from Hamilton.

Mercedes then had to call in Hamilton immediately after, and on the final lap he reclaimed a key point for fastest lap.

Behind the podium trio, Gasly claimed fourth ahead of Ferrari's Charles Leclerc, with Alpine's Fernando Alonso sixth as he split the Scuderia pair as Carlos Sainz claimed seventh.

As for Verstappen's team-mate Sergio Perez, after starting from the pit lane following a complete power unit change, Red Bull tried to play the long game by starting him on the hard tyre.

But Perez ruined that plan by locking up on lap seven at one stage, causing severe vibrations that forced him to pit onto a fresh set of medium tyres two laps later.

Perez at least put in a hard charge after his second stop to clinch eighth spot ahead of Alpine's Esteban Ocon and McLaren's Lando Norris in 10th.

There were retirees in Haas' Nikita Mazepin, AlphaTauri's Yuki Tsunoda, with George Russell doing so late on in his Williams, albeit still classified 17th.

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