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Verstappen extends title lead as he wins entertaining Dutch GP


Unlike last weekend, in terms of the grid, what you see is what you get, there are no grid penalties so everyone starts where they qualified.

As is so often the case, the start and the lap that follows will be crucial, and in view of the pace of Verstappen's RB18 probably the only opportunity for the opposition to get the jump on the world champion before he disappears into a cloud of orange smoke.

With one Ferrari alongside and another behind, the Dutchman will have his work cut out, especially with the Silver Arrows in close attendance.

Toto Wolff, bless him, believes that the front row, even pole, was possible for Hamilton yesterday, so what better opportunity for the Stevenage Rocket to prove his boss correct.

Of course, other than how they actually get away, the other important factor is strategy, particularly in terms of whether it is going to be a one-stop race or two stopper... but more of that later.

Behind the leading group comes Norris, who heads Schumacher, Tsunoda, Stroll, Gasly and the Alpine pair.

McLaren really needs a result today if it is to stay in touch with its French rival in the battle for best of the rest, the tussle over Oscar Piastri giving the situation added spice.

Qualifying 17th, Ricciardo has a golden opportunity to prove his worth this afternoon, as does Schumacher who starts from 8th. Both have yet to secure contracts for 2023, and time is rapidly running out.

The good news is that while Verstappen heads into today's race as favourite it is not going to be the walkover he enjoyed seven days ago. That said, his rivals will not have slept easy last night after seeing how he and his team were able to turn things around after Friday's disaster.

The main threat has to come from Ferrari, but as ever reliability remains a concern, as does strategy, despite the fact that nobody is willing to admit the Scuderia has a problem in that department... and had had for some time.

At a time Liberty is increasingly looking to anonymous street tracks, Zandvoort remains one of those fabulous 'old school' circuits, one that tests both man and machine.

Furthermore, though they can get carried away at times, it is great to see the passion the Orange Army brings to the sport, a passion which sets us up nicely for the likes of Monza and Suzuka.

The 72-lap Grand Prix is quickest on paper as a two-stopper, but that doesn't exclude a one-stopper.

If going for a two-stopper, starting on the soft is a good idea. This could then be followed by two stints on the medium (if enough medium tyres are available within a driver's allocation, as is the case for Red Bull, Ferrari and Mercedes) or one stint on the medium with a final stint on the soft again.

A one-stopper could either be medium to hard or soft to hard (to have some extra speed at the beginning of the race). A soft-medium one-stopper is also possible, but it's marginal for wear life, with a lot of pace management required.

Starting on the medium gives different options, but either a one-stopper or a two-stopper is still achievable even if starting on the soft.

There are a few variables affecting these theoretical calculations, such as the amount of degradation on the soft tyre and the amount of grip on the hard.

This is an old-school circuit with not much run-off, and the action so far suggests that a safety car could be likely - which means a cheap pit stop.

With this year's generation of cars and tyres helping to overtake, track position might not be the priority that it was before: this could favour some more aggressive two-stop strategies.

One more point: at 60kph, the pit lane speed limit is lower here than at most other tracks, meaning that it takes a bit longer to make a pit stop.

The pitlane opens and the drivers begin to head out. Among the last out is Verstappen... but when he does appear the crowd roars. The last to take his place on the grid is Hamilton.

Following his spin at the end of Q3 yesterday, Red Bull opted to change Perez' engine overnight.

Ahead of the formation lap the air temperature is 23 degrees C, while the track temperature is 34 degrees. Though bright there is lot of cloud, with race control advising that there is a 20% chance of rain.

All are starting on softs bar Hamilton, Russell, Norris, Schumacher, Albon and Magnussen who are on mediums. Verstappen is on fresh softs, while the Ferraris and Perez are on used.

They head off on the formation lap. As Verstappen leads the field around the circuit the noise from the crowd is deafening.

It has suddenly clouded over.

The grid forms.

They're away! Verstappen moves across the track to cover Leclerc, and as the head into Turn 1, the Dutchman leads the Monegasque and his Spanish teammate. However, is on the inside and as they round the corner there is contact between the Mercedes and Sainz, causing the rear end of Hamilton's car to momentarily wobble.

Behind these are Perez, who has Russell and Norris battling behind. Strong starts from Stroll and Ocon.

At the end of lap 1, it's: Verstappen, Leclerc, Sainz, Hamilton, Perez, Norris, Russell, Stroll, Ocon and Schumacher.

Magnussen runs wide at Turn 2and clouts the barrier but appears able to continue. Indeed, he reports that the car is fine.

After 2 laps Verstappen is already 1.1s clear of Leclerc.

Russell has passed Norris to retake sixth, and is now 2.1s down on Perez.

Unusually, Alonso had a disappointing start and is currently running 13th behind Gasly.

Hamilton is closing on Sainz as the mediums begin to come into their own.

In tenth, Schumacher heads a DRS train of 7 cars.

Lap 6 sees Leclerc post a new fastest lap (16.213) as he maintains a 1.2s gap to the leader.

At the start of lap 10, Alonso sweeps past Gasly on the pit straight to claim 12th, as Russell reports that the track is very green but with "rubber-in".

In tenth, Schumacher has broken free of the DRS train and has a 1.7s comfort cushion over Tsunoda.

Vettel pits and rejoins the race in 20th.

A bold move sees Magnussen pass Latifi at Turn 1 for 18th.

"Some runners showing high deg," Norris is told as Ricciardo and Gasly both pit.

Alonso pits at the end of lap 12, as does Zhou. The Spaniard switches to hards as he rejoins in 16th.

Out front, Verstappen has a 2.5s lead while Hamilton remains 0.6s down on Sainz.

Schumacher, Tsunoda and Latifi pit at the end of lap 13. There's an issue for Schumacher, and as a result he rejoins in 18th.

Sainz pits at the end of lap 14, as does Perez. It's a dreadful stop for the Spaniard who rejoins in 11th - it's as if the team were not ready for him.

Replay suggests they didn't have the rear-right tyre ready, while Perez went over the wheel gun.

Never mind Carlos, there's nothing wrong with Ferrari's strategy... so you keep assuring us.

Check out our Sunday gallery from Zandvoort here.


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1. Posted by Spindoctor, 05/09/2022 10:41

"This Championship is done & dusted. Everyone else should stop any serious work on the 2022 car & concentrate on 2023....."

Rating: Negative (-1)     Rate comment: Positive | NegativeReport this comment

2. Posted by ToeKnee, 04/09/2022 16:08

"Someone tell Ferrari (abbott and costello show), modern cars require 4 tires. When you think you are the most embarrassing team in the past 20 years, and you still manage to be even more embarrassing!!"

Rating: Positive (2)     Rate comment: Positive | NegativeReport this comment

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