Verstappen the home hero with Zandvoort victory: 2021 Dutch GP lap by lap


An adoring Orange Army hailed home hero winner MaX Verstappen, who despite the intense rhythm of the race never really looked flustered

Max Verstappen celebrates winning 2021 Dutch GP

Max Verstappen sent his adoring orange army into raptures with a Dutch win in Zandvoort, in a race where the pace was relentless but never really looked in doubt for the Red Bull driver.

He was pushed all the way by Lewis Hamilton, whose Mercedes attempted to best the Milton Keynes squad with strategic moves but to no avail.

Pierre Gasly put in an impressive performance to claim fourth, whilst Lando Norris came back from a poor qualifying to annexe the final point.

As the orange anticipation hit fever pitch and lights finally went out on the first Dutch GP in 36 years, Max Verstappen made good on his pole and romped into first as the Mercedes followed in grid formation.

Fernando Alonso made a wall of death-style move to go round the outside and take seventh place, before suffering a wobble and being nosed from behind by the Alfa Romeo of Antonio Giovinazzi, but both escaped without large damage.

By the end of lap 1, Verstappen’s margin was 1.7sec. With overtaking in at a premium, the field fell into a high-speed traffic train.

On lap 2, George Russell radioed in to say that Daniel Ricciardo’s McLaren was dropping oil onto the circuit. The car had been smoking pre-race also.

Lando Norris darted around behind Lance Stroll, but couldn’t find a way through.

The short circuit meant the laps flew by. On lap 5, Esteban Ocon tried to look up the inside of his Alpine team-mate Alonso at Turn Five, but found the corner camber unfavourable and couldn’t make the move stick.

McLaren reported on lap 7 that Ricciardo’s car had stopped smoking, whilst Mick Schumacher had to stop for a new nose.

Start of the 2021 Dutch Grand Prix

Verstappen led from the start

Andrej Isakovic/AFP via Getty Images

On the same lap Sergio Perez rivalled the orange smoke coming from the crowd by having a huge lock-up, his front-left doing a convincing steam engine impression as he struggled behind Nikita Mazepin.

Lap 9 and Verstappen had built his gap over Hamilton to 3sec. Ferrari opted to change strategy as both Scuderia machines (Charles Leclerc and Carlos Sainz in fifth and sixth respectively) were still stuck behind the impressive AlphaTauri of Pierre Gasly.

Perez’s smoking tyre meant a huge flat-stop and a first pit visit due to vibrations.

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On lap 10 Hamilton set the fastest lap, with Red Bull telling its Dutch ace it believed the Mercedes driver was going for a two-stop approach.

The Aston Martin of Sebastian Vettel pitted on the very next lap, whilst Perez indicated his new set of mediums had pace by setting fastest lap himself.

Norris told his McLaren team he could find 3sec if he had clean air – the Brit was at that point mired in 13th.

Lance Stroll was close behind Russell, but the lack of overtaking spots meant the Canadian couldn’t find a way through.

Nicholas Latifi proved you could pass at Zandvoort on lap 15 though, the Williams sweeping round the outside of Mazepin at Turn 1 to valiantly claim 16th.

Perez behind might have been watching, for he passed the Haas at the chicane the next time round.

On lap 18 Bottas was then told by Mercedes “At this pace, we will not be interacting with the leaders” – a thinly veiled message to hurry up.

On the next lap Perez went round the outside of Latifi’s Williams in to the chicane, the Mexican methodically making his way through the field.

Perez then took Alfa stand-in Robert Kubica on lap 21, as Hamilton came in to put on a quarum of mediums, but a sticking right front meant a slow stop.

F1 cars on banked Turn 3 at Zandvoort

All car cleared a crowded Turn Three on the first lap

Antonin Vincent / DPPI

Verstappen came in next time round, also suffering an uncharacteristically slow pit visit from Red Bull, Hamilton closing the gap to 2sec.

The Silver Arrows driver set the fastest lap on lap 23 as he hunted down the orange army’s darling.

Yuki Tsunoda was Perez’s next victim, again the Mexican getting by at the chicane and now in 14th.

Gasly came in for new tyres on lap 25, emerging seventh. Hamilton now had the gap to Verstappen down to 1.5sec.

Mercedes decided to put its Finnish man on a one-stop, making the second car a convenient Bottas buffer to back the home hero towards the seven-time champion – the gap was 0.7sec by lap 29.

Russell emerged from his pits on the same lap, almost beating Giovinazzi out of his box in the fight for tenth.

Verstappen finally got past Bottas on the pit straight at the start of lap 30, Hamilton following through one corner later. The Dutchman proved he still had the legs though, extending his lead to 1.6sec by the time they came onto the pit straight again.

Russell then rounded Kubica on the outside of Turn One on lap 33, before Giovinazzi pitted again this time for hard tyres – elevating the Williams to 12th.

Max Verstappen passes Valtteri Bottas in the 2021 Dutch Grand Prix

Verstappen passes Bottas after stopping

Lars Baron/Getty Images

Norris was on a long run, and by lap 36 up to seventh.

Bottas was told to use his tyres up in an attempt to bring him into play, the Finn beginning to close the gap to the leaders – he was 22sec behind by lap 37.

Sebastian Vettel than span into Turn Five to bring out double-waved yellows in Sector One, losing Bottas 1.5sec who had to lock-up and take avoiding action.

Hamilton then pitted on lap 40, taking his second stop early to use his extra set of medium tyres over Verstappen.

Hamilton came out in lapped traffic though, so that when the Red Bull driver strapped on a set of hards on the following tour, it remained as you were in the running order.

The chasing Mercedes set a fastest lap of 1min 13.292sec, whilst Verstappen voiced his concern over the pace of the hard tyres.

Meanwhile, Belgian GP fastest-lap setter Mazepin was brought in to retire by his team on lap 44.

Ocon reported there was debris in one of his front brake ducts on lap 47, whilst McLaren told Ricciardo to let Norris, who had now pitted, into the final points-paying position.

A line of cars ahead of Sergio Perez in the 2021 Dutch Grand Prix

Starting from the pitlane, Perez had a line of cars to cut through

Dan Istitene/F1 via Getty Images

Perez bailed out from his epic stint on lap 49, emerging just behind Russell, who scythed in front of him to defend 11th – however, Perez dived down the inside at the chicane to take the place as he beat a path to catch the McLarens.

The sole remaining Haas of Schumacher went into the gravel at the chicane, running a lonely race in eighteenth as Tsunoda retired on the same lap with a technical issue on lap 51.

Norris then took a second out of Ocon as he chased the Alpine pair – but Alonso then upped his pace by setting a 1min 14.9sec to try and keep the McLaren at arm’s length.

Perez then got by Ricciardo on lap 55, going round the outside of the Honey badger at Turn One, exclaiming “Let’s go! Who’s next?”

Hamilton closed the Verstappen gap to 1.4sec at the same time, throwing all caution to the wind.

However, by lap 60, the gap had ballooned back to 2.8sec, with the Mercedes driver reporting that his tyres were dropping off.

Lap 63 and Perez had closed on Norris, just 0.7sec the time between them. He finally got past four laps later.

Bottas then came in on lap 68 for a new set of tyres to put on a set of softs, as Alonso closed in on Sainz. The Alpine man swept past his compatriot on the final lap to take sixth, unseen by the television cameras as the focus was rightfully on the race leader closing in on home victory.

Three laps to go and the Dutch crowd could sense victory, upping the cheers at every corner.

Bottas then decided, after being told not to, to go for fastest lap. Hamilton was then brought in on the penultimate lap, in a bid to salvage the extra point.

Hamilton took it, but nothing could stop Verstappen. He sent his adoring fans into ecstasy with a win that never looked in doubt.


2021 Dutch Grand Prix race results

Position Driver Team Time Points
1 Max Verstappen Red Bull 72 laps 25
2 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes +20.932sec 19*
3 Valtteri Bottas Mercedes +35.528sec 15
4 Pierre Gasly AlphaTauri +1 lap 12
5 Charles Leclerc Ferrari +1 lap 10
6 Fernando Alonso Alpine +1 lap 8
7 Carlos Sainz Ferrari +1 lap 6
8 Sergio Perez Red Bull +1 lap 4
9 Esteban Ocon Alpine +1 lap 2
10 Lando Norris McLaren +1 lap 1
11 Daniel Ricciardo McLaren +1 lap
12 Lance Stroll Aston Martin +2 laps
13 Sebastian Vettel Aston Martin +2 laps
14 Antonio Giovinazzi Alfa Romeo +2 laps
15 Robert Kubica Alfa Romeo +2 laps
16 Nicholas Latifi Williams +2 laps
17 George Russell Williams +3 laps
18 Mick Schumacher Haas +3 laps
19 Yuki Tsunoda AlphaTauri DNF
20 Nikita Mazepin Haas DNF

*Includes additional point for fastest lap