(Motorsport-Total.com) – Red Bull took the eighth win in the 13th race of the season ahead of the “Orange Army” in Zandvoort. Local hero Max Verstappen triumphs in the Dutch Grand Prix in front of World Championship opponent Lewis Hamilton and thus regains the lead in the Drivers World Championship. “That was a good, fair race,” said Christian Horner happily.
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Red Bull stops Verstappen twice in under three seconds
On the track, the title contenders fought a gripping duel, in the pits the strategists were asked. Because overtaking was practically impossible on the racetrack in the Dutch dunes. Verstappen knew this and laid the foundation for his success right from the start.
“The most important thing was to get the start right,” the Red Bull team boss analyzed afterwards at ‘Sky’. “After that, we knew that Mercedes would split the drivers based on their strategic options. And that’s exactly what they did.”
Round 31: Valtteri Bottas tipped the scales
Hamilton triggered the wave of the first pit stops on lap 20. Mercedes switched the British from soft to medium, one lap later Red Bull reacted and also switched Verstappen to medium. The second Mercedes, on the other hand, should stay on the track for as long as possible.
Valtteri Bottas was given the task of stopping Verstappen for a few laps. On lap 28, Red Bull radioed the 23-year-old, who was catching up on the Finn in big steps: “It is absolutely crucial that we overtake Bottas as quickly as possible.”
One lap later, the Dutchman was already in the leader’s DRS window. On lap 31 he finally passed Bottas after he made a mistake in turn 11. “The crucial phase of the race for us was when Max passed Valtteri – and he did it quickly.”
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At no point in the race was he concerned that Bottas might win the race on a one-stop strategy? “No, we were more concerned that Valtteri would hold him up too much and then Lewis would use the undercut on both of them, so we had to pass so quickly.”
After that, the Dutchman’s leadership was hardly endangered. “We were able to cover Lewis, but that was really an impeccable race for Max today,” said Horner happily. And Helmut Marko is also delighted: “We have always reacted very well to whatever Mercedes has done with Hamilton,” he says on ‘ServusTV’.
Only around lap 40 did it get exciting again for a moment when the leading duo made their second pit stop. Hamilton put in again, he came back to the garage on lap 39 and picked up used media. Verstappen countered on lap 40 and switched to fresh hard tires.
Helmut Marko raves: “Max was incredible”
Due to a relatively slow outlap in traffic, Hamilton lost again to the Red Bull through the second stop and was more than three seconds behind. Afterwards, the Brit complained for a long time on the pit radio about the strategy of his team.
Verstappen, on the other hand, kept a cool head and joked ten laps before the end of the race when the distance to Hamilton was communicated to him by radio: “Is he complaining about something or what?”
“There was never a hectic rush,” Marko proudly confirms. The strategy was “so precise and precise” today. “Max has just the right thing in every situation [gemacht]. “The Dutchman did not overtax the tires and” always had reserves “.
“You saw when [Hamilton] got closer, he picked up again. Congratulations to the whole team, but Max was unbelievable. “Competitor Mercedes has to acknowledge that too. In the paddock, Mercedes team boss Toto Wolff congratulated Marko with a handshake.
Red Bull was simply “fearless”, the Austrian pays tribute to the bulls. And Horner also emphasizes: “I think it was a good, fair race. It’s a tough competition. You fight for tenths of a second every lap.”
But seconds were not only fought on the track, but also in the pit lane. Red Bull was able to complete the faster stop twice, in particular Hamilton’s first tire change was not ideal with a downtime of 3.6 seconds.
Narrow pit lane: “Mercedes was very fair”
Safety concerns about the very narrow pit lane did not materialize in the race. Since the teams’ parking spaces in Zandvoort are unusually close to each other in front of the garages, only around 14 meters apart, the race management specifically pointed out fair play before the race.
“The entry into the pit lane was really critical because it is so short, and I have to say that Mercedes was fair and laid the hoses in such a way that we could go into the pits,” emphasizes Horner. The Red Bull parking space was located directly behind Mercedes.
“It would be for anyone between the first and the last [Stellplatz] always be difficult to make a pit stop but the guys cleared the car really quickly and Max did everything he had to do. “
The world record crew stopped the Dutchman in 2.7 and 2.1 seconds. However, the team did not want to risk a third stop towards the end of the race just to hunt for the fastest race lap. “We had no means against the fastest lap. Or that would only be with so much risk [möglich gewesen]”admits Marko.
Nevertheless, the Red Bull team leadership is delighted after the triumph and is a little carried away by the euphoria of the Dutch fans: “I’ve never seen such a reaction to a driver as I did today in Holland,” enthuses Horner.
Postscript: “I don’t think we will be able to get out! It’s a fantastic atmosphere, it was like a festival all weekend and I have to praise the organizer and the fans for their commitment to have.”
Monza fear stretch? “But with the shape …”
After the two victories in Austria and the triumph in Belgium, Verstappen was now able to win his fourth home race in 2021. “But for him today’s was of course the most important [Sieg]. And compliments what they [Niederländer] here, “agrees Marko.
He is fascinated by the enthusiasm of the fans, but also by the fairness towards opponent Lewis Hamilton. After the race, there were hardly any boos to be heard.
After his seventh win of the season, Verstappen is now three championship points ahead of Hamilton. “The front is good. Now we will see how we master Monza. Because this is a course that has never been suitable for us in the past. But with the form …”, Marko is not worried about the coming weekend.