Verstappen, a pride for his compatriots

Max Verstappen celebrates his victory, with George Russel to his right. / reuters

Netherlands GP

The Dutchman already has an advantage of more than 100 points in the World Cup after achieving his fourth consecutive victory, among the chaos of Ferrari

Max Verstappen achieved his tenth victory this Sunday, and there are four in a row, to the delight of the thousands of fans who went crazy in the Zandvoort stands. It was a race that the Dutchman dominated in all luck. Both in rhythm and strategy. Red Bull and Verstappen put together a perfect race. Accompanying him on the podium of the Dutch Grand Prix were George Russell and Charles Leclerc, but not on the same merit. Not in vain, Leclerc started second and finished third, and he can be thankful that, once again, the Chinese fell to Carlos Sainz. Being a Ferrari driver means risking the guy not only in each race, but in each pit stop, because the mechanics will most likely fail if the strategist does not.

This time it was up to the soldiers to miss the shot or, rather, hit Carlos Sainz in the foot. In the first scheduled stop in this race, the Madrid native was attacked by the ‘meme’ that the Scuderia has become this season. The Italian team once again proved that they are a walking chaos, when one of the wheels was not ready. Sainz’s F1-75 entered his garage, they lifted it up, took off the old wheels and when they were going to put the new ones on, the left rear was missing. The other mechanics looked like cows at the train: no idea what was going on. To make matters worse, the one who was supposed to pick up that lost wheel was out of his place and had left the nut gun lying: Checo Pérez ran over it and destroyed it.

It was the beginning of the end of Carlos Sainz’s career. The Spaniard was attempting to save the furniture with a final pit stop on more competitive tires when he was unsafely ejected. Fernando Alonso, who was coming down the pit lane after making his tire change, had to hit the brakes and even turn the steering wheel. An ‘unsafe release’ (‘insecure exit’) of manual, whose responsibility is of the mechanics, who are the ones who must tell the pilot when to leave. It cost Sainz another five seconds of punishment. Doing worse is still possible, but very difficult, and for the first time this season the man from Madrid did not finish in the top five in a race that he did not abandon.

Ferrari destroyed Sainz’s race, and it’s not the first time, and with Leclerc they achieved a decent third place more due to the demerit of Mercedes, who could possibly have refined more with Hamilton’s last change of wheels. The Briton was left without a podium that they caressed until that safety car forced them to adjust the strategy and it worked out halfway: with Russell yes, but with the seven-time champion no. And that the veteran driver from Stevenage did nothing wrong in this race, beyond getting excessively angry in the heat of the moment. Only, with a certain aroma of Abu Dhabi 2021, he saw how Verstappen, with soft tires, took track position from him, making the risky bet of the Mercedes wall fall short.

Alonso, another record

While above they had their troubles, in the middle zone other battles were being fought. Fernando Alonso was the winner here, since he showed that at 41 years old he is still the benchmark in this type of fast-paced races. He first made the AlphaTauri give up on the track, then his teammate Esteban Ocon by strategy and ended up going from thirteenth to seventh at the finish line, which became sixth due to Sainz’s sanction. Alonso was the driver who gained the most positions on the track, with a risky but successful strategy (he was the first to mount hard tires, relatively early) and had no problems reaching the noble zone of the points.

With this result, Alonso not only adds 10 consecutive grands prix among the points – a streak that he had not achieved since 2014, his last year at Ferrari – but has also equaled Kimi Räikkönen’s record with the most races finished in F1, with 278. And with the icing on the cake that, once again, he did it ahead of Esteban Ocon, who always adds a sweeter aftertaste. There will be no rest. To complete the post-summer triplet, the ‘great circus’ moves his tent to Italy, home of Ferrari.

Sainz, desperate: “Everything that could go wrong, went wrong”

Carlos Sainz was absolutely despondent after the Dutch GP. It was not be for lowerly. From the first meters, when a contact with Lewis Hamilton affected the general performance of the car, the race was extremely complicated for him. Especially because of his team, because it is difficult to do worse than Ferrari in managing the two pit stops. Once again, Sainz was the injured party. “Bad, very bad… everything that could go wrong has gone wrong,” confessed Sainz, totally disheartened. «Bad pace in the first ‘stint’, then a very bad stop, which cost us practically four positions. Then, the yellow flag, which I think I have narrowly missed. Then the ‘unsafe release’, which wasn’t, but I had to brake so as not to take on a McLaren mechanic who was pulling the jack. It was not an ‘unsafe release’, therefore, I don’t quite understand that decision », Sainz analyzed, with special focus on this last incident that he did not see as what it really was and that cost him five seconds of punishment. Sainz fears that this race is nothing more than a symptom of something worse, and the sensations are not at all encouraging. “I did not like how the race went and we have to find a couple of things for Monza, because it is clear that the Mercedes and the Red Bulls are going a little faster in race pace,” warned the Madrid native.

It’s not very common, but luck was on Fernando Alonso’s side at the Dutch GP. The Spaniard was satisfied and somewhat surprised to finish sixth in a race in which he started 13th and in which, moreover, the start was not particularly brilliant. “I did not expect this result. The truth is that we could hope to get into the points, but after the start, I was a bit boxed in from the outside. I thought it was going to be difficult », he recounted after getting back into the points, already in ten races in a row.


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