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F1: Chequered Flag - Dutch GP Review

Max Verstappen converted pole position to a win for the fourth time this season as he further extended his commanding World Drivers' Championship lead at his home Dutch Grand Prix in Zandvoort.

While nowhere near as dominant as his performance last weekend at Spa-Francorchamps, the Dutchman still put in a flawless performance and was well placed to take advantage of late safety-car drama.

Russell takes second

George Russell came home in second to secure his best result of the season, with Charles Leclerc filling the last spot on the podium after overtaking an irate Lewis Hamilton.

Verstappen is now 109 points ahead of his nearest rivals Sergio Perez and Charles Leclerc, who went level on points with the number-two Red Bull driver after a poor fifth-place finish from the Mexican.

Now 1/100 to claim a second successive World Drivers' Championship, there looks to be little anybody can do to stop the imperious Verstappen from running away with the title.

Fortune favours Verstappen on home tarmac

The orange army of Zandvoort have been deafeningly loud all weekend and while home favourite Verstappen dismissed the home advantage in his pre-race interview, the roaring crowd certainly did not hinder the reigning champion on Sunday.

Much to everybody's relief, Red Bull did not show the same ludicrous pace advantage as they did in Spa but Verstappen's inch-perfect driving still secured pole position by the finest of margins and he was under no threat from the trailing pack heading into the first corner.

However, as the race wore on it became clear that Mercedes' one-stop strategy was going to put Red Bull under threat and that threat became even more dangerous when Fernando Alonso set some blistering lap times on the hard compound tyres.

Once the first round of pitstops were completed, Hamilton began closing the gap on the leader, who still had a pitstop remaining, and the seven-time world champion looked on track to claim his first race win of the season.

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A bizarre situation involving Yuki Tsunoda, who first complained his tyres were not fitted before pitting, re-emerging and then stopping by the side of the road three corners later, shifted the tide back in Verstappen's favour as he pitted under the resulting Virtual Safety Car.

His second Dutch Grand Prix victory was all but secured eight laps later when Valtteri Bottas' engine failure brought the Safety Car out, with Mercedes opting to leave Hamilton out while most of the field - including Verstappen - pitted for soft compound tyres.

Verstappen took advantage of the fresh rubber to breeze past Hamilton on the restart and drive off into the sunset for his 10th win of the season.

Hamilton fuming but Mercedes take a step forward

For a few brief moments during the Grand Prix the Mercedes pit wall must have felt like they had stepped back in time, with both Hamilton and Russell bearing down on Verstappen and the team looking at a potential one-two.

The Virtual Safety Car period changed the complexion of the race but the Silver Arrows still harboured a slim chance of claiming the win and a double-podium looked promising.

That all changed with the Safety Car, though, as Mercedes opted to leave Hamilton out on old medium tyres to gain track position after Verstappen pitted for soft tyres. That would have left Verstappen needing to overtake both Mercedes in the closing stages and should have been enough to secure at least a podium for Hamilton.

However, a late request for new soft tyres from Russell left Hamilton a sitting duck on the restart, prompting outrage on the team radio and eventually leading to him being passed by Verstappen, Russell and finally Leclerc.

Late strategy controversy aside, Mercedes can be pleased with the pace both drivers showed and it will be a huge relief to the team after a dismal performance in Belgium.

Now it is just a case of seeing which side of this Jekyll and Hyde car shows up in Monza.

Horror show for Sainz

Ferrari seem to find a new and ingenious way to hamper their race every single weekend and it was no different in Zandvoort, although for once it was Carlos Sainz on the receiving end instead of would-be championship contender Leclerc.

The first stop in Sainz's nightmare road-show saw him arrive in his pit box before his new left-rear tyre, with the resulting glacial pit stop dropping him down the order.

The Spaniard followed that by passing Esteban Ocon under yellow flags with Bottas stationary on the side of the road and things went from bad to worse when he was handed a five-second penalty due to an unsafe release in the pit lane, dropping him down to eighth at the chequered flag.

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