ZANDVOORT, Netherlands –
Formula One championship leader Max Verstappen quickly restarted the safety car to win Sunday’s Dutch Grand Prix in front of 100,000 adoring fans, and won four in a row. first in his F1 career.
Verstappen’s 10th win matches his tally from last year and the Red Bull driver extended his championship lead to 109 points. With seven races remaining a second consecutive title is looking increasingly likely as his challengers – Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc and teammate Sergio Perez in second place – continue to fall further behind.
George Russell finished second for Mercedes ahead of Leclerc, with Lewis Hamilton dropping from first to fourth.
Verstappen looked like he was winning as a safety car showed up in Round 56, after the engine stalled on Valtteri Bottas’ Alfa Romeo.
Verstappen has changed tires and is behind captain Hamilton’s Mercedes with 12 laps remaining.
But Hamilton in the slower medium tire and Verstappen at the faster pace made the British driver quite difficult, like when he lost the title to Verstappen at the Abu Dhabi GP at the end of last season.
Hamilton misjudged his reboot and Verstappen overtook him in an instant to deliver a big roar from the Orange army. The Dutchman also won an extra point for the fastest lap.
An angry Hamilton took it out on his team, using a frank radio talk to tell them he wasn’t happy about not swapping out new tires for the safety car, when Russell had do.
Hamilton seemed to brake later when Russell passed him and they almost collided. Hamilton couldn’t contain his rage anymore and released another puzzling statement.
Things took a turn for the worse when Leclerc overtook Hamilton to move into third place on a poor day for a Ferrari team unable to eliminate the most fundamental errors.
Leclerc started Monday ahead of Carlos Sainz Jr. about third. Sainz crossed the line in eighth place and was penalized 5 seconds for an unsafe release in the pitlane.
Earlier in the race, Ferrari had trouble changing Sainz’s tires on lap 15 – which took 13 seconds – in a season of strange occurrences.
This time the tires weren’t even ready.
“Oh my God,” said Sainz in astonishment.