With only eight rounds remaining and little to separate the title race, the pressure is ratcheting up for crash-prone protagonists Max Verstappen and Lewis Hamilton.

The Dutch Grand Prix couldn’t have gone any better for Max Verstappen and his legion home fans on a weekend Mercedes began the painful process of renewing its driver line-up.

Max Verstappen has beaten Lewis Hamilton to victory at the first Dutch Grand Prix in 26 years to regain the title lead.

The Dutchman had a blistering start from pole position while the two Mercedes drivers briefly sparred into the first turn. By the end of the first lap his lead was up to 1.7 seconds over Hamilton, and he added an extra two seconds to that by lap 20.

Mercedes, sensing its window of opportunity closing, brought Hamilton into the pits for the undercut, but Verstappen stopped the following lap to maintain his advantage, albeit reduced by two seconds.

But Mercedes’s potential ace was Valtteri Bottas, who had been left on track to inherit the lead. The team hoped he could sandwich Verstappen between himself and the tailing Hamilton to generate an opportunity for the Briton to pass on a circuit that otherwise made overtaking difficult.

Verstappen closed on the Finn on lap 29, but the battle didn’t last long. Bottas’s worn tyres forced him into a mistake on lap 30, allowing the Dutchman and Hamilton to sail through out of the last corner of that lap.

Hamilton had one final card to play, making his second stop aggressively early and onto the medium-compound tyre when Verstappen had only the slower hards remaining, but the stop was badly timed. Hamilton rejoined the circuit among lapped traffic, squandering any first-mover advantage, and Verstappen’s car turned out to have strong pace on the hard tyre anyway,

Strategic options exhausted, Mercedes waited until Hamilton’s tyres expired late in the race before bringing him back to the pits for the qualifying tyre to allow him to score a consolation point for fastest lap.

Verstappen had seen off Mercedes’s full armoury without breaking a sweat, and he took the flag to thunderous applause from the 70,000-strong Dutch crowd.

“As you can hear already, it’s just incredible,” he said. “Of course the expectations were very high going into the weekend, and it’s never easy to fulfil that, but I’m of course so happy to win here and take the lead as well in the championship.

“It’s just an amazing day. The whole crowd — incredible.”

Hamilton tried to cling to Verstappen, keeping the Red Bull Racing car just in his sights for much of the race, but he never had the pace to close, and the Briton admitted Mercedes simply lacked performance to take the fight to the leader.

“Max did a great job,” he said. “I gave it absolutely everything today — flat out.

“I pushed as hard as I could, but they were just too quick for us.”

Bottas was an anonymous third, fading from the lead fight after being passed by Verstappen and Hamilton early, and his day was compounded by a late safety stop and instruction not to try to set the fastest lap to ensure his teammate could add the point to his championship campaign.

“Unfortunately for me it was pretty uneventful,” he said. “We tried, but we didn’t quite have the pace today.” … Continue reading

Max Verstappen scored an emphatic victory at his home Dutch Grand Prix to retake the world championship lead from second-placed Lewis Hamilton.

The Dutchman’s triumph was never in doubt despite several Mercedes attempts to challenge his grasp on the lead at the pit stops. Hamilton attempted to keep up with the race’s blistering pace with an alternative tire strategy, but his rubber inevitably faded late, allowing the home hero to cruise to a comfortable win.

A perfect start was his foundation, getting away cleanly to control the racing line into the first turn. The second phase of Hamilton’s launch was slower, dropping him into the clutches of teammate Valtteri Bottas.

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Max Verstappen has pipped championship rival Lewis Hamilton to pole position for the Dutch Grand Prix in a thrilling finish to qualifying.

Max Verstappen snatched pole for the first Dutch Grand Prix in 36 years by less than a tenth of a second from title rival Lewis Hamilton in a tense qualifying finish at Zandvoort.

Verstappen looked comfortably in control atop the standings for the first two segments of qualifying and after the first laps of the pole shootout held a three-tenths margin over both Mercedes drivers. So good was the Dutchman’s lap that he could squeeze only 0.038s of improvement with his second attempt.

Hamilton, on the other hand, had left plenty on the table to gain with his second attempt, correcting several snaps of oversteer in the key traction zones to run Verstappen close.


Max Verstappen made a claim to pole favorite for the Dutch Grand Prix with the fastest time of final practice at Zandvoort, comfortably ahead of both Mercedes drivers.

The Dutchman was quickest in every sector to set a time of 1m09.623s, gaining a little time thanks to a slipstream from teammate Sergio Perez out of the final banked corner.

Valtteri Bottas was next best, but the Finn was 0.556s adrift of Red Bull Racing’s benchmark, with Mercedes teammate Lewis Hamilton a further 0.2s behind.

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The Belgian Grand Prix has been called off and Max Verstappen classified the winner after heavy rain prevented the race from getting underway in the first place.

The 2021 Belgian Grand Prix has been abandoned and Max Verstappen declared the winner amid torrential rain at Spa-Francorchamps.

Half points were awarded to the drivers in qualifying order — less Sergio Perez, who dropped to last thanks to a crash on the reconnaissance lap — after two laps were completed behind the safety car to satisfy the regulations to produce a classification, short of the 75 percent required to award full points.

Rain had lashed Circuit de Spa-Francorchamps all day and intensified in the lead-up to the race. By the time pit lane opened grip was so low that Sergio Perez slid off the road at Les Combes and embedded himself in the barrier, leaving him unable to make it to the grid.

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Max Verstappen will start alongside Williams driver George Russell in a shock front row for the Belgian Grand Prix after a marathon wet-weather qualifying session delayed for a monster crash by Lando Norris.

Max Verstappen narrowly edged a sensational George Russell to take pole for the Belgian Grand Prix after Q3 was suspended for a high-speed Lando Norris crash at Eau Rouge.

The pole shootout started after minutes of heavy rain lashed the circuit, turning parts of the track treacherous for the volume of standing water.

Norris was just beginning his first flying lap when he lost control of his McLaren at Eau Rouge, and his attempted correction sent him slamming against the left-hand barrier as he crested through Radillon, which spat him across the track.

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Max Verstappen edged Red Bull Racing teammate Sergio Perez for the fastest time of final practice at the Belgian Grand Prix. The hour-long session was wet throughout, despite the rain that lashed the track during the morning abating in time for pit lane to open.

Drivers took to the track to embrace the first genuine wet running of the weekend with the forecast of heavy rain for the race in mind, and a greasy dry line emerged as the session progressed.

It was as the track improved that Verstappen — running an even skinnier, lower-downforce rear wing than yesterday despite the wet forecast — rocketed to the top of the time sheet with a lap of 1m56.924s.

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Max Verstappen set the fastest time but put his car in the wall in a twice suspended second practice session at the Belgian Grand Prix.

The Dutchman was undertaking a race simulation when he lost control of his Red Bull Racing machine exiting Turn 7, losing control over the gravel and spinning backwards into the far barrier, spitting stones onto the track.

The damage was not visually severe, but the car was stopped in the rearward impact, so the session was called off with three minutes left on the clock.

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Max Verstappen opened his Hungarian Grand Prix campaign with the fastest time of first practice ahead of Valtteri Bottas.

The Dutchman set his lap in the final 10 minutes of the session, forced to wait until the end of a red flag suspension to collect Yuki Tsunoda’s crashed AlphaTauri, to snatch top spot from the Mercedes by just 0.061.

It was an especially promising result for the Red Bull Racing driver given he was running with the Honda power unit involved in his 51G Silverstone crash two weeks ago to evaluate its viability to remain in his pool. Any serious problem with the motor would have pointed towards a near certain grid penalty later in the season for breaching his engine parts allocation.

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Lewis Hamilton emerged from the controversial British Grand Prix with a greatly reduced title deficit, but his crash with Max Verstappen has changed more than just the title arithmetic.

Max Verstappen deprived Lewis Hamilton of pole position in Formula 1’s first sprint qualifying session, perfectly placing the Dutchman to stretch his championship advantage.

Max Verstappen has snatched pole position from Lewis Hamilton after beating the Briton in Formula 1’s first-ever sprint qualifying session at Silverstone.

Max Verstappen will start the British Grand Prix from pole after beating Lewis Hamilton in the first Formula 1 sprint qualifying session at Silverstone.

Hamilton was quickest in Friday qualifying to lead Verstappen off the front row, but the Dutchman’s start was sizzling — literally in the case of his brakes, which erupted in flames as he sat on the grid waiting for the lights to go out — to take the lead into the first turn from the tardy Briton.

Bottas even tried to pull alongside Hamilton, so slow was his getaway, but the Finn wasn’t far enough ahead to hold the line into Abbey and had to fall into line for third.

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