MAX Verstappen drove a tactically strong race to win the Dutch Grand Prix in front of jubilant home fans, the Formula 1 World Championship leader making the victory look straightforward despite safety car periods affecting the flow of the race. Verstappen led the race from pole position, initially chased by Charles Leclerc, although the Mercedes of Lewis Hamilton and George Russell overtook the Ferrari driver as they deployed a one-stop strategy.
Two safety car periods – one a virtual session, the second a full safety car – completely changed the strategy options, Verstappen moving onto soft tyres, dropping him behind the two Mercedes. With Hamilton leading, Mercedes decided to move Russell onto soft tyres, and this allowed Verstappen to take a clean run at passing Hamilton at the restart, then controlling the race.
Charles Leclerc finished 3rd for Ferrari while teammate Carlos Sainz finished 8th after taking a 5 second penalty for an unsafe pit stop release, the Spanish driver also suffering a 12.7s pit stop when the team did not have the correct tyres ready.
“This looked like an easy win for Max but in fact it was a very tactical race thanks to those two safety car periods,” said Mika Hakkinen. “The decision to move him into soft tyres during the second safety car was a brave one because normally you would not want to give Mercedes track position, but Red Bull are so very confident in their strategy decisions, and they knew that Max has the speed and ability to regain the lead.”
“I can see that Max and Red Bull are now closing on the world championship titles – Max has a lead of 109 points! They are very fast, very consistent, the kind of confidence that world champions have during a great season. I expect both Mercedes and Ferrari will be quick in Italy next weekend, but we now go to every race expecting Max to be the man to beat.”
“Ferrari’s race today was again disappointing. They qualified well but they clearly didn’t have the speed in the race and the very poor pit stop of Carlos Sainz was embarrassing. I know Mattia Binotto has admitted on TV that it was ‘a mess’, but this is not the first operational problem for the team and Mattia knows they need to improve in so many areas if they are really to challenge for the World Championship in 2023 or 2024.”
“There was a lot of talk about Mercedes’ decision to put George onto soft tyres and leave Lewis on mediums, but really, they had no choice. If they had left both cars out, Max would have passed them both and Charles might have taken second for Ferrari. Bringing both of them in would have handed track position back to Max anyway, so splitting the strategy was the only way to explore all the options. Good to see them so much more competitive and good to see positive comments from both George and Lewis after the race.”
“For me one of the really exciting things to watch is the battle for 2nd place in the World Championship for Drivers. Charles and Sergio Perez are now 2nd on 201 points, while George is only 13 points behind. A win for Carlos would also put him back in contention for 2nd place, so I think we will see some very good battles between these four during the remaining races.”
A major story in Zandvoort was the decision by Formula 1’s Contract Recognition Board that McLaren has the contractual right to sign Australian Oscar Piastri. This followed a legal dispute with Alpine over securing the services of the 2021 Formula 2 Champion. McLaren has now confirmed that Piastri will partner Lando Norris in 2023.
“McLaren has such a formidable line up for next season because everyone knows that Lando is very quick and Oscar is an exceptionally talented young driver with a bright future,” said Mika. “Oscar has won championships in Formula Renault, Formula 3 and Formula 2, a perfect record, so it’s right that Zak Brown and Andreas Seidl at McLaren have pushed for him because the team wants both drivers going for it, flat out, every weekend.”
“This is a decision which looks to the future. The CRB decision about the contractual position between Alpine, Oscar and McLaren shows what an important role this organisation has to play. They were able to look at the contracts, make a clear decision and end the confusion. Oscar and Landa are a very exciting prospect for 2023 and it shows just how ambitious McLaren is.”