Lewis Hamilton hits out at Mercedes strategy as Max Verstappen seizes championship lead at Dutch GP

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Red Bull's Dutch driver Max Verstappen -Lewis Hamilton hits out at Mercedes strategy as Max Verstappen seizes championship lead at Dutch GP - AFP
Red Bull's Dutch driver Max Verstappen -Lewis Hamilton hits out at Mercedes strategy as Max Verstappen seizes championship lead at Dutch GP - AFP

Lewis Hamilton believes his Mercedes team denied him the chance to beat Max Verstappen to victory at Sunday’s Dutch Grand Prix.

Hamilton was knocked off Formula One’s championship summit here in Verstappen’s homeland after the Red Bull driver raced to a ­comprehensive triumph.

Verstappen’s 70,000-strong orange army created a carnival atmosphere in Zandvoort – a sleepy coastal town 25 miles outside of Amsterdam – but, under the weight of huge expectation, he kept his composure following a fine drive from pole.

With overtaking almost impossible on the twisty 2.65-mile circuit, Hamilton, who started second, knew his best shot at glory would come through strategy. But Mercedes were slow putting on Hamilton’s right-front tyre in his opening stop. He was called in for a second change on lap 39 of 72 – too early in Hamilton’s opinion – emerging in traffic and scuppering any hope of undercutting his rival.

“We called our bluff too soon,” complained Hamilton during the race. Moments later he was on the radio again: “I had so much life left in those tyres. I don’t know why we rushed it [the second stop].”

Max Verstappen of Netherlands and Red Bull Racing fans show their support during the F1 Grand Prix of The Netherlands at Circuit Zandvoort on September 05, 2021 in Zandvoort, Netherlands - Dan Mullan/Getty Images
Max Verstappen of Netherlands and Red Bull Racing fans show their support during the F1 Grand Prix of The Netherlands at Circuit Zandvoort on September 05, 2021 in Zandvoort, Netherlands - Dan Mullan/Getty Images

Then, after a warning from race engineer Peter Bonnington that his tyres might run out of steam in the closing stages, Hamilton snapped: “I am pushing to close this gap [to ­Verstappen], man. Come on.”

In the post-race press conference, Hamilton said: “Today we needed everything to be perfect to even have the slightest chance of getting past Max. Our pit-stops needed to be on point, our strategy needed to be on point, and traffic, too, but none of those three were ideal.”

Hamilton found an unlikely ally in the paddock last night, with Nico Rosberg deeply critical of his former team’s decision-making. The 2016 world champion said: “It could have been a closer fight, but the way Mercedes did it today, there was no chance. It was a big, big mistake.

“This year, we have not seen the usual high level of strategy from them. There is something going on, and this evening there will be some serious discussions. What I also found really bad were the comments from Bonnington to Lewis. They were garbled and not clear. Should he push, or shouldn’t he push? What was he doing? That was below par from Bono.”

Hamilton was also forced to chase the fastest lap on the final lap after team-mate Valtteri Bottas, set to be replaced by Briton George Russell for 2022, defied an order not to beat Hamilton’s previous best time.

The seven-time world champion bolted on fresh rubber and ­succeeded to gain a bonus point which could prove pivotal in the title fight.

On F1’s return to Holland after 36 years away, Verstappen and Hamilton shared a front row for the first time since their opening-lap crash at the British Grand Prix seven weeks ago. But on Sunday Hamilton never got close enough to mount a ­challenge.

The crowd roared as Verstappen left Hamilton trailing on the 262-metre charge to the opening Tarzan bend, and by the end of the first lap, he was already 1.7 seconds clear.

Hamilton pitted on lap 20, but was stationary for an extra second following a sticky front-right wheel. Verstappen stopped the next time around and emerged ahead of ­Hamilton – his lead halved from three to 1½ seconds.

Mercedes then deployed Bottas in the hope he would act as a roadblock, but Verstappen swept past with ease on lap 30.

At that stage, Hamilton was within striking range – just 0.7 sec adrift of Verstappen – but when he stopped for a second time, he had fallen three seconds behind. Perhaps Mercedes should have called him in earlier? Hamilton then left the pits behind a host of backmarkers, and any chance of usurping his rival was over. As Verstappen took the chequered flag, orange smoke polluted the blue sky once more – his fans celebrating a win that puts their man back in charge of the championship. Dutch royalty joined in, too, with King Willem-Alexander and Queen Maxima watching the podium party.

“There are always high expectations when you come here and the crowd want you to win, but it is never straightforward,” Verstappen said. “So to deliver with pole and then win the race leaves me very satisfied. It has been an amazing day.” Bottas joined Verstappen and Hamilton on the rostrum, with Pierre Gasly an impressive fourth for AlphaTauri. Sergio Perez raced from the pit lane to finish eighth, banging wheels with McLaren’s Lando Norris along the way – a rare moment of excitement in a rather turgid affair. Norris crossed the line 10th to take a single point.

Dutch Grand Prix, as it happened

03:08 PM

Okay, that's it from me this weekend

Stay tuned for more reaction and analysis on telegraph.co.uk/sport. Not the greatest race of the season, but at least it wasn't a complete stroll in the park for for Max Verstappen, who was pushed hard by Hamilton all day.

There's another race next week at Monza and I'll be back for the Friday practice and qualifying. Enjoy the rest of your weekends.

02:58 PM

Your podium finishers

Circuit Zandvoort, Zandvoort, Netherlands - September 5, 2021 Red Bull's Max Verstappen celebrates on the podium after winning the race with Mercedes' Lewis Hamilton finishing second - REUTERS/Piroschka Van De Wouw
Circuit Zandvoort, Zandvoort, Netherlands - September 5, 2021 Red Bull's Max Verstappen celebrates on the podium after winning the race with Mercedes' Lewis Hamilton finishing second - REUTERS/Piroschka Van De Wouw

02:54 PM

Verstappen celebrates a well-earned victory

02:53 PM

Good day for Ferrari, put a few points on rivals McLaren

Bad day for Aston Martin, who saw Alpine and AlphaTauri move even further ahead after failing to score points when their rivals scored heavily.

02:50 PM

Constructor standings after 13 rounds

02:46 PM

Driver standings after 13 rounds - Top 10

Still so tight up there. Bottas looking a bit better for third in the championship after a difficult weekend for Norris.

02:43 PM

Hamilton reacts to a good second

What a race, what a crowd. Max did an amazing job, congratulations to him. They were just too quick for us. I've had an amazing time here in Holland, thanks to the crowd. It was very hard to navigate through the traffic but they just had the upper edge – it's very hard to follow here. This track is just incredible on a single lap.

02:41 PM

Verstappen reacts to a very popular win

As you can hear already it's just incredible. The expectations were very high and it's never easy to fulfil that. So happy to win here... to take the lead in the championship. It's just an amazing day. It's definitely a very good day. The start was very important, we did that very well. Mercedes did their best to make it difficult for us.

02:40 PM

Not sure Hamilton could have done much more

Was within two or three seconds of Verstappen for the entire race but just didn't have the pace to challenge.

 Max Verstappen of the Netherlands driving the (33) Red Bull Racing RB16B Honda leads Lewis Hamilton of Great Britain driving the (44) Mercedes AMG Petronas F1 Team Mercedes W12 during the F1 Grand Prix of The Netherlands at Circuit Zandvoort on September 05, 2021 in Zandvoort, Netherland -  Bryn Lennon/Getty Images
Max Verstappen of the Netherlands driving the (33) Red Bull Racing RB16B Honda leads Lewis Hamilton of Great Britain driving the (44) Mercedes AMG Petronas F1 Team Mercedes W12 during the F1 Grand Prix of The Netherlands at Circuit Zandvoort on September 05, 2021 in Zandvoort, Netherland - Bryn Lennon/Getty Images

02:38 PM

That's a popular win

02:37 PM

DUTCH GRAND PRIX - CLASSIFICATION

  1. VER

  2. HAM

  3. BOT

  4. GAS

  5. LEC

  6. ALO

  7. SAI

  8. PER

  9. OCO

  10. NOR

  11. RIC

  12. STR

  13. VET

  14. GIO

  15. KUB

  16. LAT

  17. RUS

  18. MSC

OUT: TSU, MAZ

Pérez takes eighth in the closing stages and Alonso nabs sixth from his fellow Spaniard.

02:35 PM

MAX VERSTAPPEN WINS THE 2021 DUTCH GRAND PRIX

He retakes the championship lead! A flawless performance and the home crowd go wild! Simply lovely.

Hamilton goes green in the first sector, fastest in the middle sector...

Does he get the fastest lap point? He does, quite comfortably. A consolation point. Mercedes were in this race without really being in it, if that makes sense.

02:34 PM

FINAL LAP

Verstappen has barely put a foot wrong and Hamilton has been close all day. But not close enough...

Can Hamilton get this fastest lap point on the last lap?

02:33 PM

Lap 71 of 72 - Hamilton pits

So he has one attempt to get that fastest lap point back. That Bottas/Hamilton situation is quite funny.

Reckon Hamilton should be able to do it as he doesn't have any traffic ahead.

02:32 PM

Lap 70 of 72 - If you were Bottas, would you go for fastest lap over Hamilton?

Despite being told not to? He's likely already been told he's not going to be in place at the team next year.

He's told to abort the fastest lap attempt by James Vowles but he doesn't...

He claims the fastest lap point... despite this...

02:30 PM

Lap 69 of 72 - Bottas not going for fastest lap, apparently

Sounds like they are going to pit Hamilton, then?

02:29 PM

Lap 68 of 72 - Gasly is lapped in fourth

And Bottas pits. It's a very slow one but surely they won't try and take the fastest lap point off Hamilton? Unless they then pit Hamilton to try and definitely gain the fastest lap point. The gap is only about three seconds, though.

02:28 PM

Lap 67 of 72 - Pérez and Norris had a bit of a coming together earlier in the lap

Norris into the right side of the Red Bull at turn one/two.

"That was not very fair," the Mexican says.

02:27 PM

Lap 66 of 72 - Top 10 and gaps

  1. VER

  2. HAM +4.1

  3. BOT +26.6

  4. GAS +70.6

  5. LEC +1L

  6. SAI +1L

  7. ALO +1L

  8. OCO +1L

  9. PER +1L

  10. NOR +1L

A slight lock up from Verstappen into the chicane. Pérez now up into ninth, moving ahead of Norris.

02:25 PM

Lap 65 of 72 - Alonso has closed up on Sainz

Sainz has slipped back a fair amount. One to watch, finally.

02:24 PM

Lap 64 of 72 - Driver of the day?

Can't really be anyone but Verstappen, can it? Has there actually been any change in the top 10? Not much...

02:23 PM

Lap 63 of 72 - Serious shade from Verstappen

He's told the gap to Hamilton is at 3.8.

"Is he complaining about something, or what?" he asks his engineer. "I think his tyres are done," comes the reply from Verstappen's race engineer.

02:22 PM

Lap 62 of 72 - Sorry, have run out of things to say

Hardly anything happening here. Such a shame to have such a dull race after a non-existent one last week.

02:21 PM

Lap 61 of 72 - Verstappen leads Hamilton by four seconds

Is that it? Could be...

02:20 PM

Lap 60 of 72 - Verstappen extends his lead

It's over three seconds now. Biggest battle on the track is still Stroll and Russell for 12th. The Williams ahead at the moment.

02:18 PM

Lap 59 of 72 - Top 15

  1. VER

  2. HAM

  3. BOT

  4. GAS

  5. LEC

  6. SAI

  7. ALO

  8. OCO

  9. NOR

  10. PER

  11. RIC

  12. RUS

  13. STR

  14. LAT

  15. GIO

02:17 PM

Lap 58 of 72 - Think Russell's slim chance of points has disappeared

This race really needs some drama...

02:16 PM

Lap 57 of 72 - Hamilton says he had a power cut through turn seven

He's told there's nothing to worry about. He posts the quickest first sector of the race. I don't think this race is over yet...

1.9s between Hamilton and Verstappen at the end of the lap.

15 laps to go.

02:15 PM

Lap 56 of 72 - The gap down again to within two seconds

Lapped cars playing a role here...

02:14 PM

Lap 55 of 72 - Gasly doing an excellent job

As he has done all season. Running ahead of the Ferraris all day. Pérez gets Ricciardo and into the points. He could end up seventh here, I think. Sixth is a step too far.

02:13 PM

Lap 54 of 72 - Is this Hamilton's chance?

They're not going to three stop. Or are they? Some confused messages from his team. Hamilton is certainly confused as to what to do. Verstappen gets held up by Kubica at the start of the lap but Hamilton has the same issue with Vettel. Think that ends up working better for Verstappen, whose lead is now over two seconds again.

02:12 PM

Lap 53 of 72 - Tell you what... Hamilton is closing here

Verstappen approaching traffic in lapping Vettel and Kubica for a second time.

The gap is now under 1.5s...

02:10 PM

Lap 52 of 72 - Tsunoda has become the second man to retire

02:09 PM

Lap 51 of 72 - Verstappen's lead slips to below three seconds

Hamilton on the charge? "Killing my tyres trying to keep up," he says. Might they try a three-stop?

02:08 PM

Lap 50 of 72 - Top 10 and gaps

  1. VER

  2. HAM +3.1

  3. BOT +16.2

  4. GAS +51.6

  5. LEC +57.6

  6. SAI +70.8

  7. ALO +1lap

  8. OCO +1L

  9. NOR +1L

  10. RIC +1L

02:06 PM

Lap 49 of 72 - We've had a great season so far

But this has been far from a great race. In fact, it has been one of the dullest in recent years. French Grand Prix 2019? Not quite as there has been some intrigue at the front. But intrigue? We need a bit more than that...

02:05 PM

Lap 48 of 72 - Two-thirds distance

Hamilton still not happy about his tyres as Pérez pits from seventh.

02:03 PM

Lap 47 of 72 - Verstappen's lead back to 3.6s

Ocon back on Alonso's rear wing. Stroll still right behind Russell, but the Briton still has a five-second penalty to serve, I believe.

02:01 PM

Lap 46 of 72 - Full order

  1. VER

  2. HAM

  3. BOT

  4. GAS

  5. LEC

  6. SAI

  7. PER

  8. ALO

  9. OCO

  10. RIC

  11. NOR

  12. RUS

  13. STR

  14. TSU

  15. LAT

  16. VET

  17. GIO

  18. KUB

  19. MSC

OUT: MAZ

Mazepin has retired. Missed that one.

02:01 PM

Lap 45 of 72 - "There's a damn long way to go on this tyre, man"

Hamilton questioning his tyre choice again. He's closed the gap a little but Verstappen was lapping the Alpine of Alonso. Next car he has to lap on the track is Pérez...

01:59 PM

Lap 44 of 73 - Not joking here

But I think the non-existent Belgian Grand Prix was more exciting than this one.

01:58 PM

Lap 43 of 73 - Hamilton with decent pace

How much extra pace will the mediums give him over Verstappen? You would expect the advantage to be early on in the stint, which is now...

01:57 PM

Lap 42 of 72 - Top 10 and gaps

  1. VER

  2. HAM +3.1

  3. BOT +8.9

  4. GAS +32.3

  5. LEC +44.3

  6. SAI +54.4

  7. NOR +64.7

  8. PER +65.9

  9. ALO +68.1

  10. OCO +69.2

Norris yet to stop.

01:56 PM

Lap 41 of 72 - Verstappen leads Hamilton by three seconds after those stops

It was something a bit different for Mercedes that was worth trying...

01:55 PM

Lap 40 of 72 - Hamilton: "Why would you pit me with these guys, man?"

Hamilton not too happy about that. Verstappen comes in for his stop to respond but has to go onto the hard tyres. He's going to keep the lead but by how much?

01:53 PM

Lap 39 of 72 - Verstappen puts the hammer down

His lead is extending and extending. Hamilton comes in quite early for his second stop... he goes onto a set of mediums. What will Red Bull do? They have to respond. Hamilton is going to come out in traffic here...

01:53 PM

Lap 38 of 73 - Hamilton lost half a second last lap

The gap now 2.4s. Verstappen will be wary of the undercut, of course.

01:51 PM

Lap 37 of 72 - Verstappen leads Hamilton by 1.5s

Hamilton currently holds the fastest lap point. Yellow flag in sector one... double yellows in fact. Looks like Vettel has gone around. He gets it going again, though, but is now down to P17. The first yellow flag we've had all day. He lost the rear on entry to turn three...

Bottas actually locked up behind him, had to go around the outside, very high up the banking, to avoid a collision. That would have been nasty. Bottas loses 1.5s there.

01:49 PM

Lap 36 of 72 - Will Bottas stop again?

He's in third, so could come into play again in the final third of the race if he only one-stops.

Valtteri Bottas of Finland driving the (77) Mercedes AMG Petronas F1 Team Mercedes W12 during the F1 Grand Prix of The Netherlands at Circuit Zandvoort on September 05, 2021 in Zandvoort, Netherlands - Lars Baron/Getty Images
Valtteri Bottas of Finland driving the (77) Mercedes AMG Petronas F1 Team Mercedes W12 during the F1 Grand Prix of The Netherlands at Circuit Zandvoort on September 05, 2021 in Zandvoort, Netherlands - Lars Baron/Getty Images

01:48 PM

Lap 35 of 73 - Looking like a good race for Ferrari

Fifth and sixth compared to McLaren's seventh and 11th.

01:48 PM

Lap 34 of 72 - Giovinazzi stops again

That's a bid odd. He had only done six laps on those medium tyres. Not sure what that's all about. Leclerc finally stops as well and comes out in fifth.

01:47 PM

Lap 33 of 72 - Top 10 and gaps

  1. VER

  2. HAM +1.6

  3. BOT +25.2

  4. LEC +30.4

  5. GAS +43.2

  6. ALO +49.5

  7. SAI +13.7

  8. NOR +64.6

  9. PER +65.8

  10. OCO +72.6

Leclerc, Alonso and Norris have not stopped. Five-second time penalty for Russell for speeding in the pit lane.

01:45 PM

Lap 32 of 72 - "He's getting super lucky with traffic, man," says Hamilton of Verstappen

Okay... not sure if Hamilton was held up at some point that we didn't see.

They are approaching Ocon now. To lap him.

01:44 PM

Lap 31 of 72 - Verstappen leads Hamilton by 1.6s

Bottas did a job there, no doubt. Has that affected Red Bull's tyre wear? Verstappen puts nearly a second on Hamilton that lap, though...

Bottas pits and comes out in third on the mediums.

01:42 PM

Lap 30 of 72 - This is the critical period of the race

Verstappen can't afford to spend too much time in the dirty air. But Hamilton has dropped back a little now. At least he doesn't seem to be pushing super hard to get on the back of Verstappen. Bottas will be trying to drive the widest car on the track...

Bottas runs wide into the chicane and that compromises his exit at the final turn... Verstappen gets DRS and goes past easily to retake the lead ...Bottas then lets Hamilton through at turn two and the gap for the lead is now under a second!

01:41 PM

Lap 29 of 72 - Bottas has Verstappen on his rear wing now

Hamilton has an Alfa Romeo in between himself and Verstappen. Verstappen isn't close enough into turn one to attempt a move, so that has worked well for Hamilton.

01:39 PM

Lap 28 of 72 - Verstappen has a huge pace advantage over Bottas

But we saw how difficult it was for Pérez to pass even Mazepin in the Haas. Verstappen is going to have to be clinical here...

01:39 PM

Lap 27 of 72 - "It's going to be absolutely critical to catch and pass, if we can"

Verstappen made aware of the Bottas situation. He's within 2.4s of the Finn and current race leader now. Not easy to overtake here, at least not without taking a risk.

01:37 PM

Lap 26 of 72 - Hamilton working these mediums better

This has been the story of the season, in fairness. Mercedes seem to enjoy them better. Bottas is struggling on the tyres, running wide at the exit of turn three. He knows he will be left out for a few more laps, though, with Verstappen closing in quickly.

Hamilton within 1.2s of the Dutchman now.

01:36 PM

Lap 25 of 72 - Full order

Pit stops coming thick and fast now... Gasly the latest man in.

  1. BOT

  2. VER

  3. HAM

  4. LEC

  5. SAI

  6. ALO

  7. GAS

  8. OCO

  9. RIC

  10. GIO

  11. RUS

  12. STR

  13. NOR

  14. PER

  15. TSU

  16. KUB

  17. VET

  18. MAZ

  19. LAT

  20. MSC

01:34 PM

Lap 24 of 72 - Third race distance gone

Pérez now up to 14th with another move at the chicane, this time on Tsunoda.

01:34 PM

Lap 23 of 72 - Let's see what Verstappen can do on his first full lap on new tyres

Hamilton set a 1:13.737 the last time around... Verstappen does a 1:14.223. Bottas a 1:15.958. Verstappen will be on him in the next four or five laps.

01:32 PM

Lap 22 of 72 - Bottas could act as a blocker here

He's nine seconds up the road from Verstappen but if he stays out that will be erased very quickly. That could give Hamilton chance of closign the gap. Hamilton is currently flying – the gap to Verstappen is now only 1.7s.

01:31 PM

Lap 21 of 72 - Hamilton stops at the end of lap 20

Looks a nailed on two-stopper as he goes onto the medium tyres. He comes out in third, with a clear track. 15 seconds behind Bottas. It's a slightly slow stop but nothing that is going to cost him a position.

Formula One F1 - Dutch Grand Prix - Circuit Zandvoort, Zandvoort, Netherlands - September 5, 2021 Mercedes' Lewis Hamilton in action during the race - REUTERS/Piroschka Van De Wouw
Formula One F1 - Dutch Grand Prix - Circuit Zandvoort, Zandvoort, Netherlands - September 5, 2021 Mercedes' Lewis Hamilton in action during the race - REUTERS/Piroschka Van De Wouw

Verstappen then follows Hamilton and comes in. Makes sense, Hamilton was setting good sector times on his fresh tyres. No need to do anything different to what Mercedes do currently.

01:29 PM

Lap 20 of 72 - Top 10

  1. VER

  2. HAM +3.6

  3. BOT +10.7

  4. GAS +29.4

  5. LEC +31.5

  6. SAI +37.9

  7. ALO +48.9

  8. OCO +52.3

  9. RIC +55.4

  10. GIO +58.1

01:28 PM

Lap 19 of 72 - I don't want to be too pessimistic

But this is not shaping up to be a classic race of the 2021 season.

Pérez up to 16th now with a nice move into the chicane on Latifi. On the outside and then the inside. Hamilton getting a ton of instructions about adjusting settings on his steering wheel. No idea what for.

01:26 PM

Lap 18 of 72 - Bottas gets the hurry-up

"Valtteri, at this pace we are not going to interact with the leaders," he is told. He's seven seconds behind Hamilton. A gentle afternoon drive to a comfortable third? Why not...

01:25 PM

Lap 17 of 72 - Hamilton back on the pace of Verstappen

So that half a second must have been an error somewhere. They haven't had to lap anyone on track yet.

01:24 PM

Lap 16 of 72 - Pérez does get Mazepin

He's now up to 17th.

01:23 PM

Lap 15 of 72 - Where are the biggest battles on track currently?

For 17th Pérez and Mazepin, still... that's the only position where one driver is within a second of the other. Oh, and Stroll vs Russell for 11th. So hard to overtake here as is being proven.

01:22 PM

Lap 14 of 72 - Hamilton loses half a second to Hamilton last lap

Not sure how that happened. Tyres? 14 laps on them this race plus what they did yesterday.

01:21 PM

Lap 13 of 72 - Sounds like Verstappen is going long

His lead is back up to three seconds again. Lapping very similarly to Hamilton. Bottas a little further off the pace. The gaps to the remainder of the field are enormous already.

Red Bull Racing RB16B Honda leads Lewis Hamilton of Great Britain driving the (44) Mercedes AMG Petronas F1 Team Mercedes W12 during the F1 Grand Prix of The Netherlands at Circuit Zandvoort on September 05, 2021 in Zandvoort, Netherland - Formula 1/Formula 1 via Getty Images
Red Bull Racing RB16B Honda leads Lewis Hamilton of Great Britain driving the (44) Mercedes AMG Petronas F1 Team Mercedes W12 during the F1 Grand Prix of The Netherlands at Circuit Zandvoort on September 05, 2021 in Zandvoort, Netherland - Formula 1/Formula 1 via Getty Images

01:19 PM

Lap 12 of 72 - Top 10 and gaps

  1. VER

  2. HAM +2.8

  3. BOT +8.3

  4. GAS +19.6

  5. LEC +22.9

  6. SAI +27.8

  7. ALO +36.4

  8. OCO +38.0

  9. RIC +39.6

  10. GIO +40.9

01:18 PM

Lap 11 of 72 - Russell in 11th under pressure from Stroll

Giovinazzi in 10th is 1.1s ahead of Russell. Chance of points for the Williams driver for the third race in a row? Yes. Vettel pits from down the order and goes onto the hard tyres. Pérez has now set the new fastest lap with a 1:14.596 on the medium tyres.

01:16 PM

Lap 10 of 72 - Hamilton sets the fastest lap

Looks like he's moving onto a two-stop strategy now. This could be interesting...

The gap down to under three-seconds now, just. What do Red Bull do here?

01:15 PM

Lap 9 of 72 - Pérez pits already

Changing his flat-spotted hard tyres for something else. Bit of a miserable couple of weeks for him since announcing his new contract. He's not far off being lapped...

01:14 PM

Lap 8 of 72 - Running order

  1. VER

  2. HAM

  3. BOT

  4. GAS

  5. LEC

  6. SAI

  7. ALO

  8. OCO

  9. RIC

  10. GIO

  11. RUS

  12. STR

  13. NOR

  14. TSU

  15. VET

  16. KUB

  17. MAZ

  18. PER

  19. LAT

  20. MSC

01:13 PM

Lap 7 of 72 - Verstappen leads by 3.1s

Schumacher had a collision with someone and had a nose change at that pit stop. Not sure who. Pérez makes a big error at turn one and locks up, flat spotting his front right. Not ideal when he should be going long on them.

01:11 PM

Lap 6 of 72 - Pérez has not made any progress

He's behind Mazepin, albeit in DRS range. Still in 18th, though, having only moved ahead of the pitting Mick Schumacher.

01:10 PM

Lap 5 of 72 - Ocon and Alonso duelling at turn three

Alonso takes the high banking and Ocon tries the inside but can't make it stick... think he had to get out of it to avoid a collision which he had to do.

Mick Schumacher makes an early stop and goes onto the hard tyres. Hamilton says his soft tyres are struggling to hold the pace.

01:09 PM

Lap 4 of 72 - Giovinazzi nudged Alonso's rear on lap one

Think he managed to avoid any real damage but it could have been a bit of a mess.

Verstappen's lead stabilising at 2.3s. Gasly holding fourth but is dropping off the back of Bottas, as would be expected. Nearly four seconds behind.

01:07 PM

Lap 3 of 72 - Top 15

  1. VER

  2. HAM

  3. BOT

  4. GAS

  5. LEC

  6. SAI

  7. ALO

  8. OCO

  9. RIC

  10. GIO

  11. RUS

  12. STR

  13. NOR

  14. TSU

  15. VET

01:07 PM

Lap 2 of 72 - Verstappen leads Hamilton by 2.2s

Verstappen well in the process of disappearing up the road... Bottas is 1.5s behind Hamilton. The key for Verstappen is to get out of undercut range from both Mercedes cars.

"Ricciardo is smoking and dropping oil," Russell says of the McLaren.

01:05 PM

THE 2021 DUTCH GRAND PRIX IS GO!

It's a good start from Verstappen who moves over to cover Hamilton. Verstappen opens up a few car lengths very early on. It's quite congested at the back but everyone makes it through the tight turns two and three safely. The gap from Verstappen to Hamilton is 1.6s as they enter the final sector already...

01:04 PM

A fair amount or orange flare smoke around on the formation lap

Verstappen leads them around to form up on the grid. Pérez waits at the exit of the pit-lane. I can't wait for this. Thankfully I don't have to wait much longer...

We're nearly set...

01:02 PM

FORMATION LAP IS GO

The clock tick around to 2pm and Max Verstappen leads them away.

Everyone in the top 10 is on the soft tyres – Pérez as predicted on the hards. Russell in 11th, Norris in 13th, Kubica in 16th, Mazepin in 18th and Latifi from the pit lane on mediums.

12:56 PM

What can Pérez do from the pit lane?

I think a few points would be a decent result. With a handily-timed Safety Car, though, you never know. Going to assume he starts on the hard tyres.

Sergio Perez of Mexico driving the (11) Red Bull Racing RB16B Honda on their way to the grid prior to the F1 Grand Prix of The Netherlands at Circuit Zandvoort on September 05, 2021 in Zandvoort, Netherland - Lars Baron/Getty Images
Sergio Perez of Mexico driving the (11) Red Bull Racing RB16B Honda on their way to the grid prior to the F1 Grand Prix of The Netherlands at Circuit Zandvoort on September 05, 2021 in Zandvoort, Netherland - Lars Baron/Getty Images

12:52 PM

Predictions?

I would be surprised if we manage to avoid a yellow flag or worse in the opening couple of laps. T1-T3 allows a variety of different lines and the barriers are very close in to the top of the banking as you exit into the fast sweepers, which are also very narrow. Someone is no doubt going to try to be a hero. Usually it happens at the middle or the back where things are bunched quite closely... it could happen at the front.

Mercedes hold the tactical advantage with two cars in the top three as opposed to Red Bull's one. As Toto Wolff pointed out, though, Pierre Gasly in the Red Bull sister team is in fourth. He could get ahead of one or both Mercedes cars, especially given how poor Bottas has been at starts recently.

12:46 PM

15 minutes to go

And the circuit is as quiet as it has been all weekend as the national anthem of the Netherlands is observed. A little less Eurovision than the one we had in Austria earlier in the year.

12:41 PM

Final starting grid for the Dutch GP

1. VER 2. HAM
3. BOT 4. GAS
5. LEC 6. SAI
7. GIO 8. OCO
9. ALO 10. RIC
11. RUS 12. STR
13. NOR 14. TSU
15. VET 16. KUB
17. MSC 18. MAZ
PIT LANE: LAT, PER

12:36 PM

Think a Max Verstappen win would be popular?

Verstappen has single-handedly revived F1 interest in the Netherlands.

12:35 PM

Even from here, the atmosphere looks amazing

Max Verstappen of Netherlands and Red Bull Racing fans show their support ahead of the F1 Grand Prix of The Netherlands at Circuit Zandvoort on September 05, 2021 in Zandvoor - Boris Streubel/Getty Images
Max Verstappen of Netherlands and Red Bull Racing fans show their support ahead of the F1 Grand Prix of The Netherlands at Circuit Zandvoort on September 05, 2021 in Zandvoor - Boris Streubel/Getty Images
Max Verstappen of Netherlands and Red Bull Racing fans show their support ahead of the F1 Grand Prix of The Netherlands at Circuit Zandvoort on September 05, 2021 in Zandvoort, Netherlands. - Photo by Dan Istitene - Formula 1/Formula 1 via Getty Image
Max Verstappen of Netherlands and Red Bull Racing fans show their support ahead of the F1 Grand Prix of The Netherlands at Circuit Zandvoort on September 05, 2021 in Zandvoort, Netherlands. - Photo by Dan Istitene - Formula 1/Formula 1 via Getty Image

Plenty of flares let off when Max did his lap out of the pits and onto the grid.

12:25 PM

Strategy chat from Pirelli

A one-stopper the quickest. With the high likelihood of a Safety Car, strategy could be divergent and the winner might end up two-stopping. That said, there has been a warning about teams double stacking their cars in the very tight pit lane. Could work out well for some and not for others.

12:22 PM

A royal fist bump for Max

12:16 PM

Hamilton speaks on the driver parade

"Today is going to be so difficult. It's my first time on the heavy fuel on this track with these tyres. I think Max was quicker than us on the long run on Friday – it's going to be tough to keep up with him. There's strategy we can play. If we can keep up with Max we can hopefully apply a little bit of pressure. We just need to keep ourselves in the game. "

Doesn't sound too optimistic but he's got a good chance of a win here today, no doubt.

12:16 PM

Watch: A very bad five minutes for Williams yesterday in Q2

12:09 PM

Current constructor standings

12:04 PM

A word for Antonio Giovinazzi

He will line up a superb seventh after his equal-best qualifying yesterday. He has been on it all weekend and has yet to confirm his place at Alfa Romeo for next year.

Antonio Giovinazzi of Italy driving the (99) Alfa Romeo Racing C41 Ferrari during final practice ahead of the F1 Grand Prix of The Netherlands at Circuit Zandvoort on September 04, 2021 in Zandvoort, Netherlands - Clive Rose - Formula 1/Formula 1 via Getty Images
Antonio Giovinazzi of Italy driving the (99) Alfa Romeo Racing C41 Ferrari during final practice ahead of the F1 Grand Prix of The Netherlands at Circuit Zandvoort on September 04, 2021 in Zandvoort, Netherlands - Clive Rose - Formula 1/Formula 1 via Getty Images

His usual team-mate, Kimi Raikkonen, is absent this weekend after testing positive for Covid-19. Reserve driver Robert Kubica steps in to replace him and did a decent job to get 18th on the grid yesterday after limited time in the car.

11:57 AM

Current driver standings - Top 12

Will the drivers' championship lead change hands again today?

11:51 AM

Watch: Onboard for Max Verstappen's pole lap

And he did it without using DRS on the pit straight. That would have cost him somewhere between a tenth and two.

11:46 AM

Qualifying times

  1. Max Verstappen (Ned) Red Bull 1min 08.885secs

  2. Lewis Hamilton (Gbr) Mercedes GP 1:08.923

  3. Valtteri Bottas (Fin) Mercedes GP 1:09.222

  4. Pierre Gasly (Fra) Scuderia AlphaTauri 1:09.478

  5. Charles Leclerc (Mon) Ferrari 1:09.527

  6. Carlos Sainz Jr (Spa) Ferrari. 1:09.537

  7. Antonio Giovinazzi (Ita) Alfa Romeo Racing 1:09.590

  8. Esteban Ocon (Fra) Alpine 1:09.933

  9. Fernando Alonso (Spa) Alpine 1:09.956

  10. Daniel Ricciardo (Aus) McLaren 1:10.166

  11. George Russell (Gbr) Williams 1:10.332

  12. Lance Stroll (Can) Aston Martin 1:10.367

  13. Lando Norris (Gbr) McLaren 1:10.406

  14. Nicholas Latifi (Can) Williams 1:11.161

  15. Yuki Tsunoda (Jpn) Scuderia AlphaTauri 1:11.314

  16. Sergio Perez (Mex) Red Bull 1:10.530

  17. Sebastian Vettel (Ger) Aston Martin 1:10.731

  18. Robert Kubica (Pol) Alfa Romeo Racing 1:11.301

  19. Mick Schumacher (Ger) Haas F1 1:11.387

  20. Nikita Mazepin (Raf) Haas F1 1:11.875

11:33 AM

Weather forecast for the today

Hint: reckon we should be able to get this race done, in full...

11:14 AM

Good afternoon F1 fans

And welcome to our coverage for the 2021 Dutch Grand Prix from Zandvoort. It is the first Dutch Grand Prix since 1985, when only – of those on the grid today – Lewis Hamilton, Fernando Alonso and Robert Kubica were born. Back then Niki Lauda won for McLaren in the final of his 25 Grands Prix victories.

Things have changed a little at Zandvoort since then, notably the enormous renovation which started a couple of years ago, to ready the track for Formula One cars. The biggest changes have been the introduction of some pretty steep banking around the track – particularly at turns one and three and the final turn.

How have the drivers fared with this unforgiving and old school circuit? It has been mixed, with several crashes and numerous red flags throughout Friday and Saturday. Max Verstappen and Lewis Hamilton did pretty well yesterday, though, with the home favourite taking pole and Hamilton digging a lap out of nowhere to just miss out on pole position. Valtteri Bottas was third for Mercedes and Pierre Gasly an excellent fourth for AlphaTauri. The Frenchman is having an excellent season again.

Pole position qualifier Max Verstappen of Netherlands and Red Bull Racing celebrates in parc ferme during qualifying ahead of the F1 Grand Prix of The Netherlands at Circuit Zandvoort on September 04, 2021 in Zandvoort, Netherland - Dan Istitene - Formula 1/Formula 1 via Getty Images
Pole position qualifier Max Verstappen of Netherlands and Red Bull Racing celebrates in parc ferme during qualifying ahead of the F1 Grand Prix of The Netherlands at Circuit Zandvoort on September 04, 2021 in Zandvoort, Netherland - Dan Istitene - Formula 1/Formula 1 via Getty Images

A few others did not fare so well. Lando Norris was only 13th, Sergio Pérez was knocked out in Q1 after failing to cross the line in time to start a new hot lap and both Williams cars crashed towards the end of Q2. George Russell escaped without too much damage and will start 11th but Nicholas Latifi's FW43B damaged enough to mean replacement parts and thus a start from the pit lane. Pérez will start there too as Red Bull made the decision for an entirely new new power unit (which had to come at some point this season). It makes sense, given his poor qualifying.

What can we expect from the race, then? The first lap is going to be crucial as usual. More so, perhaps given that the chances of overtaking look quite slim. There are a few question marks over strategy and tyre wear, though, and the chances of a Safety Car or red flag look pretty high going by what we have seen here so far.

To have Verstappen and Hamilton alongside one another on the front row again? What a prospect. I wonder if we will see a repeat of the duel on the first lap at Silverstone? Hopefully without the crash. We're going to find out...

Lights out at 2pm, we'll be here for all the build-up, live updates and reaction from it all.

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