Every championship has its trials and tribulations, and how a team responds to those challenges often determines a season's success
On a sunny Sunday in the Netherlands, Red Bull Racing Honda driver Max Verstappen answered trying Formula 1 weekends at Britain and Hungary by taking his second straight victory and reclaiming the top spot in the F1 Drivers Championship standings.
Verstappen turned his sixth pole of the campaign into his seventh victory, sending thousands of orange-clad fans into delirium as he won his home Dutch Grand Prix. The young Honda driver led 64 of 72 laps around the Zandvoort circuit to outlast Lewis Hamilton for the win.
The victory moved Verstappen back in front of Hamilton in the championship as the Dutchman regained the top spot after a DNF in Britain and a 9th-place in Hungary erased his lead.
Scuderia AlphaTauri's Pierre Gasly had his best day of the season, starting fourth and running a strong race to place a season-best fourth. The result is his 10th top-10 finish of the season and vaulted him to eighth in the season standings. The finish also kept AlphaTauri's status alive as the only team in Formula 1 to have scored points in each race of 2021.
Sergio Perez earned Driver of the Day honors in fan voting after a workman-like performance that saw him finish eighth after starting from Pit Lane due to a pre-race engine change. Perez pitted on the ninth lap and made his tires hold up for 40 laps before a late stop for soft tires. The Mexican used those new shoes to climb through the field, passing Daniel Ricciardo, Lando Norris and Esteban Ocon in the waning laps to place eighth.
AlphaTauri rookie Yuki Tsunoda had a trying day, retiring after 50 laps with a potential power unit issues. Tsunoda qualified 14th, marking his best qualifying result in the last four starts.
The win is Honda's 14th in the Hybrid era (2015-Present) and allowed Red Bull Racing to stay just 12 points behind Mercedes in the Constructors Championship after 13 of the year's 22 planned races. Perez is fifth in the standings and closed to within six points of Norris for fourth, while Gasly gained a position, moving up to eighth. The series heads to Monza next weekend for the Italian Grand Prix, where Gasly shocked the F1 community by earning his first series victory there a year ago.
Technical Director, Honda F1
"Another win, which once again was down to a brilliant performance from Max and good race management from the Red Bull Racing team. It was far from being an easy race with Max fighting two Mercedes, but the team made the right calls and the pit crew did an excellent job to keep one step ahead of them. Pierre ran a one-stop strategy from fourth on the grid and raced really well, keeping ahead of the two Ferraris chasing him, bringing home a good points total for AlphaTauri's fight in the Constructors' championship thanks to a fourth place finish. With Checo, we made the decision to introduce a new PU and start from pit lane. He pulled off several overtaking moves on a track where passing was very difficult and an eighth-place finish is a very good comeback. Yuki was also going well, but unfortunately we had to retire him when we spotted something on his data which we will investigate further. The Dutch fans created a fantastic atmosphere all weekend, although we did feel pressure to do well at Max's home race. This was the first time we have raced at Zandvoort after an absence of many years and for Honda it will also be our last time, so we are glad to have given the Dutch fans, who showed Honda so much support this weekend, the result they wanted. Now we move on to Italy, motivated to do well for the rest of the season."
Max Verstappen - Red Bull Racing Honda
Start 1st, Finish: 1st (7th win of the season)
"It's incredible to win here today on another home track and it feels great to take the lead in the Driver's Championship again. Of course the expectations were very high coming into the weekend and it's never easy to fulfill that but the whole crowd has been incredible and I am so happy to win here. It was quite a tough race, Lewis was really putting the pressure on and both Mercedes' had really good pace but we managed to have that three second buffer when we needed it and I think that was very important. 72 laps around this track is cool, especially in front of all these fans, they were incredible throughout the whole race, I've never experienced anything like this before in my life. I will of course celebrate at home this evening, but Monza is just around the corner and the championship fight is tight, so we want to perform at our best."
Sergio Perez - Red Bull Racing Honda
Start: Pit Lane (Qualified 16th), Finish: 8th
"I gave it my all, every overtake was on the limit and I had to take a lot of risks. Today was all about damage limitation as I started from the pits after taking the penalty for the engine change. It was a bit of a shame at the end when Lando and I touched, I had a lot of damage on the right-hand side of the car. I think it was a racing indecent as I wasn't given enough space and I don't think he could see me. Since that point I lost a lot of grip, otherwise, I definitely think P6 was on the cards today. I really wish I could have given more to the Dutch fans, they have been incredible all weekend. From now on it's just about looking ahead and trying to come back strong in Monza."
Pierre Gasly - Scuderia AlphaTauri Honda
Start: 4th, Finish: 4th
"P4 is an amazing result today, I don't think we could really hope for much better and it's 12 important points for us. I really enjoyed all 72 laps here in Zandvoort, it's a fantastic track. The team did a fantastic job throughout the weekend and today we were flying! I'm obviously very excited to get back to Monza after last year and obviously the expectations are very high. We've maximized our package this weekend, so it'll be interesting to see how it performs next weekend in Italy."
Yuki Tsunoda - Scuderia AlphaTauri Honda
Start: 14th, Finish: DNF
"Today's result is disappointing, we saw an issue on the PU data and unfortunately had to retire the car. Up until that point the race was going quite well and the pace of the car was there, but it was hard to overtake. I've got to look forward to Monza now, I have some experience on that circuit which is good. I'm going to take the same approach as this week, slowly building up the pace and hopefully we can put it all together next week."
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