Photo courtesy of Formula 1
Despite Mercedes’ best efforts, Max Verstappen inevitably came away with the victory at Zandvoort in his home race. It is now the 10th win for the Dutchman in 2022, matching his total from the 2021 season.
Mercedes attempted to gate crash the homecoming with a differing strategy to Verstappen. They started the race on hard tires, attempting to beat Verstappen with a one-stop strategy as the Dutchman started the race on medium tires.
While Verstappen was cruising ahead of the field, Mercedes had an opportunity to fight for the win with both drivers putting on fastest laps of the race. Verstappen then needed a second pit stop, which would have put him behind both Lewis Hamilton and George Russell on a track that has few overtaking zones.
Before this drama could have unfolded at Zandvoort, a bizarre situation unfolded with AlphaTauri and Yuki Tsunoda. On Lap 44, Tsunoda stopped on the track after he felt a tire was loose, but was indeed fine and continued running as he pitted for soft tires.
Several laps later, Tsunoda stopped again for a broken diffuser and this time, the Virtual Safety Car was brought out. This meant that for pace, Mercedes had to pit alongside Verstappen, meaning that the Dutchman did not have to worry about overtaking Hamilton and Russell.
However, Mercedes still had hope for a double podium as Verstappen ran on the hard tires with Mercedes on the fresher mediums. Then on Lap 55, Valtteri Bottas stalled on Turn 1, bringing out a safety car.
Similar to what Ferrari did to Charles Leclerc at Silverstone, Mercedes left Hamilton out with older tires while everyone else behind him pitted for new soft tires (Russell came into the pits on his own decision).
To the surprise of no one, Hamilton was screwed over by this strategy call as Verstappen overtook him easily and fell out of the podium places. Like Leclerc at Silverstone, Hamilton finished fourth despite having race-winning potential.
Lewis is FUMING with Mercedes 😳 pic.twitter.com/ot9zqNEmFn
— ESPN F1 (@ESPNF1) September 4, 2022
Verstappen won easily to extend his lead in the championship standings by 109 points over Sergio Perez and Leclerc while gaining the extra point for fastest lap of the race.
“It was not a straightforward race… we timed the restart really well,” Verstappen said after the race. “It’s incredible to win again. It’s always special to win your home grand prix. I’m proud to be Dutch!”
Russell came home to finish P2, his best finish with Mercedes this season. His call to pit allowed Mercedes to at least come away with a podium finish for the third time in the last four races.
Leclerc finished P3 depsite Mercedes overtaking him after the VSC. Sergio Perez finished P5 to make him and Leclerc even for P2 in the driver’s standings.
Amidst all the drama with Mercedes and Verstappen, no one had a more eventful race than Carlos Sainz because Ferrari cannot seemingly get out of their own way. On Sainz’s first pit stop, Ferrari forgot to bring out his left rear tire (seriously) and the stop lasted 12.5 seconds.
Then, Sainz appeared to have overtaken Fernando Alonso as soon as the yellow flag was deployed in Turn 1 for the Bottas incident. While that will be reviewed later, Sainz suffered a five-second time penalty on his next pit stop for an unsafe release. While running P5, his penalty pushed him back to a P8 finish.
Alonso and Lando Norris finished P6 and P7 respectively. Esteban Ocon finished P9 to help Alpine stretch their constuctor’s points lead over McLaren by four points as Daniel Ricciardo finished P17.
Lance Stroll rounded out the top 10 to secure his fifth 10th-place finish in 2022.
The 2022 Formula 1 season heads to one of its crown jewels in Monza for the Italian Grand Prix next Sunday Sept. 11 at 9:00 a.m. EST.