Motor racing: Verstappen wins fourth race in a row at Dutch GP to take stranglehold on title fight

Max Verstappen widened his overall world championship lead to 109 points over Leclerc. PHOTO: EPA-EFE

ZANDVOORT, Netherlands - Red Bull's Max Verstappen won his home Dutch Grand Prix from pole position for the second year in a row on Sunday to take his 10th victory of the season and extend his Formula One lead into triple figures.

He added a bonus point for the fastest lap, as George Russell finished second for Mercedes with Ferrari's Charles Leclerc completing the podium. Seven-time world champion Lewis Hamilton was fourth in the other Mercedes.

Reigning champion Verstappen widened his overall world championship lead to 109 points over Leclerc with seven races remaining.

“I’m proud to be Dutch” said the 24-year-old, as he took another relentless step towards a second successive world title.

“They threw everything at us but we made the right calls,” he said over the radio as he celebrated his fourth win in a row.

“It’s always special to win your home grand prix, this year I had to work for it even more,” he added as the grandstands full of orange-shirted fans – most of the 105,000 attendance – went into party overdrive.

Leclerc and Verstappen’s Mexican teammate Sergio Perez are tied on 201 points in second place overall, with the Ferrari driver ahead on wins with seven rounds remaining, but Verstappen’s second title looks a formality.

In the constructors’ standings, Red Bull have 511 points to Ferrari’s 376, with Mercedes on 346.

Briton Hamilton fumed at his team after leading a race he might have won but for the timing of safety cars and a tyre strategy that left him on slower tyres than rivals.

“I can’t believe you guys,” he said over the radio, with expletives filling the airwaves.

The Mercedes drivers had run one-two for the first time this season, after rivals made their first pit stops, with the pair on an initial one-stop strategy while Verstappen planned for two.

A virtual safety car period triggered by AlphaTauri’s Yuki Tsunoda changed that, however, with Verstappen taking a cheap pit stop and Hamilton complaining his hopes of winning had been “stuffed”.

“That VSC has stuffed us,” said Hamilton, knowing that instead of Verstappen having to pass him, it was he who had to pass the Dutchman with 18 laps to go.

A full safety car was then deployed when Valtteri Bottas parked his Alfa Romeo at the turn 1 entry, prompting Red Bull to pit Verstappen again for softs, a move that put the Mercedes first and second again.

Racing resumed on lap 60, with 12 to go, and on his worn, cold medium tyres Hamilton had no defence as Verstappen, taking a tow, cruised past to lead again.

Hamilton vented his understandable anguish in an expletive-laden team radio message at seeing a great chance to win snatched away.

“Why am I the only guy not out here on softs?” he asked.

Russell flew by a lap later and Leclerc too, on lap 66, leaving him fourth as the party started for Verstappen. REUTERS, AFP

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