Dutch Grand Prix: Max Verstappen wins in front of home crowd to retake championship lead

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Max Verstappen sealed the Dutch Grand Prix on Sunday afternoon to the delight of a packed set of orange-clad Zandvoort grandstands, ahead of Lewis Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas.

Max leapt off of the line to open up an early lead, being in front by over 1.5 seconds by the end of lap one from Lewis Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas.

Further back, Fernando Alonso caught the eye with a typically progressive start, whilst Sergio Perez launched from the pitlane and began embarking on a recovery drive from the back of the field.

Indeed, the Mexican would soon show that it is possible to overtake on Zandvoort's tight and twisty configuration - belying pre-weekend fears - though those he largely breezed past had both a tyre and car performance disadvantage more often than not.

Up front, a change in position seemed more likely to centre around pitstops, with Mercedes and Lewis Hamilton deciding to switch their pre-race strategy to a two-stop, in a bid to undercut Verstappen.

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The Dutchman, understandably, opted to cover Lewis' move with his Red Bull team to pit just one lap later and remained in front, though Hamilton had managed to take a second out of his lead in just one tour of the circuit - however, Verstappen would soon be able to restore his roughly three-second cushion.

Bottas, meanwhile, was still on the Silver Arrows' plan A - a one-stop - with the idea being that the Finn could either win the race himself taking one trip to the pits less or, more likely, hold up Verstappen even for a little bit so he was in striking distance of Hamilton.

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By lap 30, the Dutchman was under the wing of the Finn and, ultimately, his tyre advantage was too great for Bottas to really be able to hold him up. He did a bit, with Hamilton closing to within a second of the Red Bull man, but Verstappen was able to get past Bottas with relative ease and soon rebuild his gap.

Around ten laps later, Verstappen and Hamilton once again pitted - with Lewis coming in a lap sooner though, again, he'd not be able to overtake the Dutchman as Mercedes took a punt and, unfortunately for them, left Hamilton coming out in traffic.

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Verstappen would change tyres a lap later - onto hards whereas Hamilton was on mediums - and this would set us up for the final stint of the race, with one interesting dynamic potentially which tyre compound would be best for the final 30 or so laps.

Initially, it looked as though Hamilton was concerned that he simply would not be able to make the tyre last as long as he needed to, but before too long the competitive spirit came out - overriding calls from his Mercedes team to think about settling for second - as he set about setting fastest laps to try and close the gap to Verstappen.

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With ten laps to go, Hamilton's attempts to reel in Verstappen appeared to have waned. He'd leant on his tyres as much as he dared to close the gap but, in truth, it wasn't enough with the time between the two now at four seconds.

Indeed, that rather summed up this afternoon's Dutch Grand Prix. Mercedes and Hamilton threw all they could at Red Bull and Verstappen but, try as they might, they could not force their way through.

Verstappen largely had this one covered from the get-go, and he returns to top spot in the Drivers' standings ahead of next weekend's Italian Grand Prix.

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