Max Verstappen Claims His 10th Win of The Season
The Dutch Grand Prix is one of Formula 1 fans’ favorite races for the year and the 2022 edition proved to be another great spectacle for all to see. Seas of orange filled the grandstands surrounding the Zandvoort circuit as Max Verstappen had a home-field advantage with all his Dutch fans supporting him. Both the driver’s and Constructor’s championships are currently firmly in the hands of Red Bull and adding another victory in Zandvoort would only tighten their grip.
Ferrari who has struggled to win let alone finish on the podium needed an excellent result to have any hopes of competing for the title. Mercedes entered the weekend hoping to reach the podium with their ever-improving car giving Lewis Hamilton and George Russel confidence that they too can hang in there with the front runners.
Plenty of drama surrounded the race but not because of any specific circumstances related to the Dutch GP but around Oscar Piastri who snubbed Alpine in favor of McLaren next year. Teams are already trying to figure out their 2023 lineups despite having seven races left in this season. In any case, there was a race to be had and Verstappen wanted to give his Dutch brethren a victory to cheer about.
The Dutch GP’s qualifying session presented solid performances by some unlikely drivers such as Lance Stroll and his Aston Martin who qualified in P10 and Yuki Tsunoda driving for Alpha Tauri qualified in ninth, a rarity this season. Even Haas’s Mick Schumacher looked in fine form qualifying in eighth place giving his struggling team hope for additional points on the season.
Ferrari was extremely aggressive hunting for pole position and for a moment it seemed Charles Leclerc had gotten the job done until Verstappen snatched pole position away from him. Verstappen earned his fourth pole position of the season beating out Leclerc by .021seconds putting the dutchman in a prime position to win on Sunday. Ferrari’s Carlos Sainz qualified in P3 followed by Lewis Hamilton in P4.
Sergio Perez was trying his best to split the Ferrari’s spun out at the final turn and caused a red flag ending qualifying early. The red flag ruined any opportunity for Mercedes and other teams from attempting their last run at pole position. Perez despite his spin qualified in P5 followed by Russell in P6.
Temperatures were extremely muggy and lightly overcast over the Zandvoort circuit, but the weather would not play a major factor at the Dutch Grand Prix. Pit stops, safety cars, and of course track performances were crucial in deciding the final rankings of this exciting GP.
The race starts without any accidents but there was plenty of action and near calls especially between Hamilton and Sainz who battled for third place and nearly bumped into each separated by millimeters. Hamilton kept Sainz honest staying in the Ferrari’s mirror following the Spaniard in fourth place.
Out in front Verstappen felt no true pressure from Leclerc and began to extend his lead ever so slowly. On Lap 15 Sainz took his first pit stop and once again Ferrari looked disorganized as one of the pit crew was late bringing out a tire. Sainz’s pit stop felt like an eternity taking twelve seconds and just like that Sainz’s hopes for a podium were dashed. Luckily for Leclerc, his pit stop on Lap 18 was immaculate as Ferrari needed to recover from their previous blunder. Verstappen followed suit taking his stop on Lap 19 opening the door for Mercedes and Hamilton to take over the lead followed by his teammate Russell in P2.
Mercedes tire degradation was well under control allowing them to stay out longer and suddenly become a real threat to winning the race. Eventually, Mercedes had to pit giving up their lead, but they would have fresher tires for the remainder of the race compared to their closest competitors at Red Bull and Ferrari.
On Lap 44 Yuki Tsunoda and his Alpha Tauri suddenly pulled over on the track with the Japanese driver complaining about one of his tires not being fitted properly after his pit stop. Tsunoda slowly made his back to the pits where mechanics ensured all was well and rereleased back onto the track. Tsunoda did not make it very far as he was forced to pull over again triggering a virtual safety car and multiple pit spots.
On Lap 50 the race restarted without a hitch and Hamilton on brand new soft tires began his hunt for Verstappen who had a small lead at this point but was running on older hard tires. Luck is a fickle thing and for Bottas his Alfa Romeo suffered bad luck as his engine died on the main straightaway of the track. A safety car was immediately deployed creating another slew of pit stops to occur setting up a fascinating end to the race.
Sainz once again had a difficult pitstop due to being released dangerously nearly colliding with Alpine’s Fernando Alonso. Sainz was given a five-second penalty despite his claim he had to avoid the McLaren mechanics in front of him. Hamilton on the other hand elected to stay on track skipping the pits while his teammate at the very last second demanded soft tires nearly catching Mercedes off guard in the pits. Russel’s decision paid dividends due to the speedy benefits the soft tires would provide him.
Verstappen was also given soft tires but would have to give up his lead spot to Hamilton. In any case, the safety car bunched up the cars and set up another restart of the race on Lap 64. The green flags waved, and Verstappen timed his acceleration perfectly and caught Hamilton who also failed to switch on the appropriate engine mode passing the Brit easily. Hamilton’s woes continued as Russel also passed him nearly slamming into Hamilton’s rear during his quest for P2. Hamilton slid to fourth place where he remained until the chequered flag.
Leclerc slid into third place and for the first-time e in nine races finished on the podium in third place. Russell’s gamble paid off and for the second time, this season finished in second place adding more points on an impressive season with a questionable car. The day belonged to Verstappen and his roaring orange sea of dutchmen as he claimed the tenth race of the season and extended his championship lead by over a hundred points.
Verstappen has shown race in and out that he is deservingly leading the championship race which is practically in the bag at this point. It will take some miracles and horrendous luck for Red Bull and Verstappen to lose the championship.
The Italian Grand Prix at the Autodromo di Monza waits only a week away and Ferrari will need to give their fans something to cheer about other than a podium finish. It will be a challenging task for the Scuderia because the “temple of speed” which is Monza heavily favors Red Bull.
REST OF THE PACK
Hamilton was furious on the teams’ radio over his fourth-place finish after coming so close to victory. Red Bull’s Perez finished in P5 after a lackluster weekend but added even more points to his team’s lead in the constructor’s championship.
Alonso and Alpine finished in sixth place which was the tenth time this season the wily veteran finished in the top ten of Grand Prix. McLaren’s Lando Norris finished in seventh place rewarding the young driver for his arduous work with a struggling race car. Sainz would have finished in fifth place if it were not for the five-second penalty that pushed him back to eight places followed by Alpines Esteban Ocon in ninth. Rounding out the top ten was Aston Martin’s Lance Stroll capping off a solid weekend with a single point in tenth. Off to Monza, we go!
2022 DUTCH GRAND PRIX FINAL STANDINGS
|1||MAX VERSTAPPEN||NETHERLANDS||RED BULL||1:13.652|
|5||SERGIO PEREZ||MEXICO||RED BULL|
|8||CARLOS SAINZ JR||SPAIN||FERRARI|
|10||LANCE STROLL||CANADA||ASTON MARTIN|
|11||PIERRE GASLY||FRANCE||ALPHA TAURI|
|14||SEBASTIEN VETTEL||GERMANY||ASTON MARTIN|
|16||ZHOU GUANYU||CHINA||ALFA ROMEO|
|RETIRED||VALTERRI BOTTAS-LAP 53||FINLAND||ALFA ROMEO|
|RETIRED||YUKI TSUNODA-LAP 43||JAPAN||ALPHA TAURI|