Updated: Feb 28
Written by Hafiz Akbar, Edited by Harshi Vashee
Formula One once again returns to the Nederland, home to the Circuit Zandvoort, which hosted the championship up until the last one in 1985. With an excellent qualifying session from the title contenders, both Max Verstappen and Sir Lewis Hamilton lined up in pole and second, respectively. Fellow Mercedes driver, Valtteri Bottas followed suit in third position, with Pierre Gasly in fourth, equalling his best ever start.
Shortly after the race started, Sebastian Vettel went spinning. Although managing to stay off the unforgiving barriers of Zandvoort, the German veteran is relegated to the back lot of the positions.
A surprising decision by the Mercedes strategists kept Bottas out for longer, whilst the two title contenders came in for a fresh set of tyres.
Mercedes’ strategists attempted an undercut on Verstappen by pitting Hamilton early but it didn’t work out since the out lap was filled with traffic, both those waiting to be lapped or wanting to unlap themselves.
Lance Stroll and George Russell were involved in quite the battle till just before pitting, where Russell was slapped with a 5-second time penalty for speeding in the pit lane.
Being in a midfield car competing against frontrunners meant this was a quiet race for Pierre Gasly. The Frenchman stayed put on his 4th place spot throughout the race with no one to contest him and ended up finishing in 4th place.
Esteban Ocon, feeling that his pace was significantly faster than Fernando Alonso, tried complaining to the team that Alonso’s pace was “not enough.” But shortly, Alonso started pulling clear of Ocon.
The Ferrari duo has shown their competitiveness, holding the 5th and 6th place spot till the last minute, where Alonso overtook Carlos Sainz. Charles Leclerc went on to finish 5th.
Lando Norris benefitted from the Stroll-Russell battle to pass both and enter the points, although he’d quickly lose the spot again during a battle with Sergio Perez, who started from the pit lane and surged up the field. The two banged tyres and flooring but managed to get out of it in the track (aka not crashing).
Speaking of crashing, we have two retirements from this week’s race, with Nikita Mazepin and Yuki Tsunoda both retiring due to some technical failure.
In the end, it was Max Verstappen winning his first ever home GP after almost 36 years of hiatus from the calendar. He is the first ever winner of a Formula One race in Zandvoort in this hybrid era (since the last one is in 1985).
King Willem-Alexander of the Netherlands was there amongst the crowd, congratulating race winner Max Verstappen on his hard-fought win.
As for the standings, Max Verstappen passed Lewis Hamilton again and is clear by 3 points. Whereas the 3rd place spot was swapped between Valtteri Bottas and Lando Norris, which is currently placed 3rd and 4th, respectively.
The Constructors’ Championship remains the same, with Mercedes extending their lead, now over 10 points, over their championship rival, Red Bull Honda.
Formula One will be back next week in what could be named one of the most sacred places in motorsport history, Monza.