ZANDVOORT, Netherlands — With pinpoint strategy calls, Formula One championship leader Max Verstappen made quick work of a safety car restart to win the Dutch Grand Prix on Sunday in front of 100,000 adoring fans, and make it four straight wins for the first time in his F1 career.
Verstappen’s 10th win matched his tally from last year and the Red Bull driver extended his championship lead to 109 points. With seven races left a second straight title is looking increasingly likely as his challengers – Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc and teammate Sergio Perez in joint second – continue to fall further back.
George Russell finished second for Mercedes ahead of Leclerc, with Lewis Hamilton dropping from first to fourth.
Verstappen looked to be coasting to victory when a safety car came out on Lap 56 after the engine cut out on Valtteri Bottas’ Alfa Romeo.
Verstappen changed tires and was behind leader Hamilton’s Mercedes with 12 laps left.
But Hamilton was on a slower medium tire and Verstappen on the quicker softs left the British driver pretty much a sitting duck, much like when he lost the title to Verstappen at last year’s season-ending Abu Dhabi GP.
Hamilton misjudged his restart, and Verstappen overtook him straight away to bring a huge roar from the Orange Army. The Dutchman also took an extra point for the fastest lap.
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An angry Hamilton took it out on his team, using an expletive on radio to tell them he wasn’t happy about not swapping for new tires under safety car, when Russell had.
Hamilton appeared to brake late when Russell overtook him and they nearly collided. Hamilton could no longer contain his rage and unleashed another expletive-laced rant.
It got worse as Leclerc overtook Hamilton to move into third on an otherwise poor day for a Ferrari team unable to cut out the most basic errors.
Leclerc started from second ahead of Carlos Sainz Jr. in third. Sainz crossed the line in eighth and got a five-second penalty for an unsafe release in the pitlane.
Earlier in the race, Ferrari botched Sainz’s tire change on Lap 15 – taking 13 seconds – in a season of bizarre incidents.
This time the tires were not even ready.
“Oh my God,” a stunned Sainz said.