Formula 1 2021 Dutch Grand Prix was held at the famous Zandvoort circuit in the dunes north of Zandvoort, Holland. It was round 13 of the 2021 Formula 1 season, and the first time the race was held in the Netherlands.
Zandvoort is a very special circuit with a combination of fast and extremely banked corners, consisting of two 19-degree banked turns in sectors 1 and 3. This is the first time that Formula 1 returned to Zandvoort since 1985, where McLaren won 1-2.
Max Verstappen started the weekend in good form and secured the pole position ahead of main title rival Lewis Hamilton. Bottas made it two Mercedes in the top 3. The Mercs threw many obstacles in the way, but Max eventually managed to win his first home race ahead of Hamilton and Bottas.
Pre-Race Preparations Thursday
Kimi Raikkonen announced that he'd be leaving Formula 1 at the end of the season. Kimi raced for 21 seasons in Formula 1 and won one world championship with Ferrari back in 2007. Bottas is expected to take his seat in Alfa Romeo starting next season, while George Russell, currently driving for Williams, will replace the Finn.
Pirelli was quite conservative in choosing the tyres for the first Dutch GP and brought the hardest compounds from the range. C1 (White) was the hard tyre, C2 (Yellow) was the medium tyre and C3 (Red) was the soft tyre.
Unlike in the last race when the rain robbed everyone of a great race, this weekend was forecasted to be dry with no chance of rain.
Practice Sessions of the F1 Dutch Grand Prix 2021
Hamilton was fastest in the morning practice session ahead of Max and the two Ferraris. Ferrari took a step forward and finished the FP2 on top. Leclerc was the lead Ferrari ahead of Sainz and Ocon. Max, who couldn't get a clean lap in on soft tyres, was only fifth fastest.
The Red Bull and Mercedes cars were head-to-head as they fought for the pole position. However, it was clearly Red Bull that had the race pace advantage, especially in the hands of Max.
Alpine and Alpha Tauri looked quick in the midfield teams, with both their cars showing a decent chance to score points. Meanwhile, McLaren seemed to lack pace and the right balance for their car.
Verstappen was finally able to clock a lap without any problems. He finished the FP3 session on top and was nearly six-tenths ahead of the Mercs of Bottas and Hamilton. Sergio Perez also delivered a decent lap and was fourth quickest ahead of qualifying. Alonso was fifth ahead of Norris, Stroll, Vettel, Leclerc and Gasly. Kimi was declared Covid-positive, and reserve driver Robert Kubica replaced him.
Qualifying Sessions of the F1 Dutch GP 2021
Sergio Perez was the biggest surprise of the Q1 session. After a poor opening effort, Sergio had to go for a second attempt. This time, the team made a poor judgment, and he failed to start the final lap, missing the flag by 1 second. Vettel was on a decent lap, but a block by the Haas pair ruined his afternoon. Both the Haas drivers and Kubica joined those two at the end of Q1.
George Russell was on a great lap and might have reached Q3 had he not crashed, bringing out the first red flag of the session. The session restarted, and his teammate crashed this time, resulting in a second red flag. FIA announced that the session would not be restarted, and as a result, Norris failed to reach Q3 for the first time this season. Tsunoda and Stroll were the other two drivers who failed to reach the last session.
Max delivered a stunning lap and grabbed the provisional pole position ahead of Hamilton and Bottas. The gap to Lewis was nearly four-tenths of a second and looked like he had P1 secured. Max couldn't improve on the final run and failed to deploy DRS quick enough coming out of the final corner. Lewis had a much better final lap and finished just 0.038 sec behind Max. Bottas secured 3rd behind the top 2. Gasly was 4th ahead of Leclerc, Sainz, Giovinazzi, Ocon, Alonso, and Ricciardo.
Sunday Race – Verstappen leads the F1 2021 championship race once again
The atmosphere was electric, and the orange army was out to show their love and support for local hero Max Verstappen. The Dutch sensation did not disappoint and made a great start ahead of the two Mercedes cars. Behind, Alonso moved from P9 to P7, while Giovinazzi moved in the other direction from P7 to P10. This track made overtaking very difficult, and for a driver to manoeuvre an overtake, he must have a 2.1 to 2.5-second pace advantage.
At the front, Lewis had dropped to nearly four seconds behind Max and didn't have the pace to outrace the Red Bull car. Lewis was the first to pit on lap 20 and switched to new medium tyres but a slow stop of 3.6 sec. Max pitted on the next lap and, thanks to a 2.7-sec stop, emerged two seconds ahead of Lewis, while Bottas was in the lead of the race.
Max was on to the back of Bottas by lap 30 and needed to make a pass complete quickly to beat the Mercedes team strategy. He did quick work of Bottas and overtook him easily. Bottas pitted a lap later and emerged 3rd place.
On lap 36 of 72, everyone had pitted except Norris and Kubica. At the halfway point in the race order, Max led Lewis, Bottas, Gasly, Leclerc, Sainz, Norris, Perez, Alonso, and Ocon. Mercedes threw the dice again and pitted Lewis on lap 39 for a used set of medium tyres. That didn't work out, and he was out in the traffic.
Max pitted the next lap and came out ahead of Lewis and crucially clear of the traffic. With 15 laps to go, Lewis closed the gap to 1.8 sec and then 1.2 sec but couldn't get into the DRS range. With 10 laps to go, the gap swelled back to 4 sec.
Lewis pitted a couple of laps before the end of the race, snatching the point for the fastest lap from his teammate. This time, Max crossed the line and won the Dutch GP in front of the fans, bringing the Dutchman back into the championship lead ahead of Lewis and Bottas.
Gasly finished a brilliant 4th ahead of Leclerc, Alonso, Sainz, Perez, Ocon, and Norris.
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