Watch the Dutch GP live on Sky Sports F1 today at 2pm as Max Verstappen looks to take back the championship lead by winning his home race at Zandvoort; Mercedes have Lewis Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas in top three to attack Red Bull
By Matt Morlidge
Last Updated: 05/09/21 9:48am
Max Verstappen joins Anthony Davidson to take us through his pole lap in front of his home fans at the Dutch GP
Max Verstappen and Lewis Hamilton start alongside each other on the front row today at the Dutch GP for the first time since their dramatic Silverstone crash – with the title challenger hoping to take the title lead by winning his first home race, amid Mercedes’ strategy advantage.
All the ingredients are there for the first Dutch GP at Zandvoort in 36 years to deliver a cracker as Verstappen and Hamilton, who holds a slender three-point championship lead, are reunited in the top positions.
The last time that happened, it was Hamilton’s home race at the British GP. After plenty of wheel-banging through the opening corners, the pair then collided, crashing Verstappen out and handing Hamilton a penalty.
In front of the masses of the passionate ‘Orange Army’ rather than Silverstone’s Hamilton support, and on a circuit where track position will be key – the first lap is sure to be feisty. But could there be contact again?
Lewis Hamilton says both he and Max Verstappen will be going for it at the start, with the two championship rivals lining up alongside each other on the front row
“I guess time will tell,” stated Verstappen, looking to become the first home winner around Zandvoort. “But I think as drivers you always try to do the best start you can to Turn 1 and then see what happens afterwards.
“On the first lap to just try and gain a position of defend a position.”
“There’s not much more to add,” said Hamilton.
Dutch GP build-up is live on Sky Sports F1 from 12.30pm, with lights out at 2pm.
Dutch GP Starting Grid – Top 10
|1) Max Verstappen, Red Bull|
|2) Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes|
|3) Valtteri Bottas, Mercedes|
|4) Pierre Gasly, AlphaTauri|
|5) Charles Leclerc, Ferrari|
|6) Carlos Sainz, Ferrari|
|7) Antonio Giovinazzi, Alfa Romeo|
|8) Esteban Ocon, Alpine|
|9) Fernando Alonso, Alpine|
|10) Daniel Ricciardo, McLaren|
While Verstappen and Red Bull certainly appeared to hold the pace edge over Hamilton and Mercedes on Saturday – with Max insisting his pole lap should actually have been 0.3s faster – the Silver Arrows should be able to put the leader under significant pressure in the race today.
That’s because they have Valtteri Bottas starting third, while Verstappen is very much a lone Bull due to team-mate Sergio Perez’s qualifying struggles, leaving him 16th on the grid.
With two fast cars against one, even if they do not take the lead on the first lap Mercedes can split their tyre strategies afterwards – in what teams are undecided will be a one or two-stop race – in a bid to assume control.
Anthony Davidson compares the qualifying laps of Max Verstappen and Lewis Hamilton from the Dutch GP
“If we’re able to have the same pace in the race – and I think that it’s going to be about survival on the one-stop – Max needs to make a decision,” said Mercedes boss Toto Wolff. “Is he going for a one-stop, or is he going for a two-stop?
“Certainly we’ll be pitting one, putting on massive pressure, and leaving the other one out.”
Red Bull’s Christian Horner said: “We’ve just got to get our heads down and get on with our own race. In a perfect world, we’d drive away at the front – I just don’t think it’s going to be that simple!
“They’ve got two guys, they can split their options. But the key guy we have to beat obviously is Lewis. So you’ve got to pick your fights.”
The other big unknown is Hamilton’s race pace, after the championship leader’s aborted second practice. Verstappen’s long runs were mighty in the Red Bull.
“The pace was good,” said Verstappen. “The track is still very hard on the tyres and it’s 72 laps around here.
“It’s going to be a difficult race just to manage that and of course I have two Mercedes cars behind me. They will definitely push me along – but that’s fine.”