Teams’ reactions after the frenetic Dutch Grand Prix

By Balazs Szabo on

What a brilliant return Zandvoort has made this weekend! The Dutch Grand Prix took place after a 36-year hiatus, and it truly lived up to expectations by posing huge challenges to drivers and engineers and thus providing fans with thrilling actions across the entire weekend.

There was understandably huge pressure on Max Verstappen, who was expected to win in front of his passionate home crowd. The brilliant Dutchman did not fail to impress, withstanding the enormous pressure from Lewis Hamilton and dealing with the tactical tricks of Mercedes as the Anglo-German squad threw everything at Verstappen it had to stop him taking his second home victory in just seven days.

The 23-year-old, who was born is Hasselt, Belgium, but races under Dutch flag, took his 7th win of 2021 and the 17th of his career. His team can also be proud of its cooperation with Honda as the Milton-Keynes-based outfit now has more hybrid wins in 51 races with Honda (13) than they scored in 100 hybrid races with Renault (12).

Lewis Hamilton, who finished 2nd for Mercedes for the 5th time this year, has lost the championship lead and is now trailing Verstappen by three points. Considering the bad luck for Verstappen, the momentum is still with Hamilton as the Dutchman will be most likely forced to take a fourth fresh engine, and serve a grid-drop penalty as a result of it.

Charles Leclerc, 5th

“I’m pretty happy with our overall performance of this weekend. Finishing with both cars in the points today is a good result. The start was good, but then I didn’t want to take too many risks. I think the main surprise for everyone was how long the mediums could last.
„Still, I think that the soft–hard combination was the right choice for us. We were very close in pace to the car ahead, but it was just not enough today. The atmosphere was amazing, and it was really great to see so many people cheering in the grandstands. I can’t wait to see the same, just in red, in Monza next week.”

Carlos Sainz, 7th

“Overall it’s been a positive weekend for the team, although it hasn’t been the best for me, despite the good recovery from yesterday. My race today was very far from what I was looking for. I could not match the pace I had on Friday, as I completely lost the good feeling I’d had with the car up until then. I just couldn’t find the right balance, sliding too much and I had a lot of degradation.

“I was planning to attack and fight for positions, but I ended up having to defend. We need to analyse what happened today and move on. On the positive side, we scored some good points for the team, which puts us in a stronger position in the Constructors’. Now I am looking forward to Monza. It will be my first Italian GP as a Ferrari driver and I am sure it’ll be a weekend I will remember forever.”

Mick Schumacher, 18th

“Tough – it could’ve been better. It seemed there was an issue with the front wing – I’m not quite sure what it was – but I was losing a lot of front end, so I came in to change it. The hard tyre didn’t really run how I wanted it to, so we had to pit a bit early onto the medium and that worked a lot better, so from that perspective we can be quite happy. I’m definitely looking forward to coming back here next year.”

Nikita Mazepin, DNF

“I’m upset on having to retire the car as my job is to drive and I’ve not driven enough over the last few race weekends. Luckily, I don’t feel at fault for this, so that’s one thing to put in the back of your mind. I was having a good race, I was having a lot of fun – I had a very good opening lap, and I was then trying to manage what we had.

„Unfortunately, the hydraulic issue meant we needed to manage things, turn down the engine – which meant Robert Kubica got by us. As a precaution then we had to stop and retire the car. I was giving it my best and I just want to get the best result for the team. It just wasn’t meant to be today.”

Max Verstappen, 1st

“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 fulfil 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. We can be really pleased with the whole Team performance; we made the right calls and we managed the race really well.

„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 I want to make sure we perform at our best.”

Sergio Perez, 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.”

Lewis Hamilton, 2nd

“What a race and what a crowd, honestly, it’s been an amazing weekend. Max did a great job so congrats to him. I gave it everything I had out there, but they were just too quick for us this weekend. I think even if we’d have got everything right today with the traffic, the pit stops and the strategy, it’d still have been tough to get by them. We didn’t get those elements spot on, but either way, we pushed as much as we could and we’ll take it offline, debrief and see how we could have improved.

„We’ll be fighting right to the end. It was an incredibly difficult race out there, physically and mentally I think it was one of the toughest, but it’s an amazing track. The fastest lap at the end was one of my favourite parts of the race, it’s an incredible track to drive on low fuel, this is one of my favourite tracks now and I’ve had a great time here in Holland, so I’m looking forward to coming back next year.”

Valtteri Bottas, 3rd

“It was quite a quiet race for me but as a team, we scored solid points and there’s been an amazing atmosphere here. Before the race, there was so much energy from the crowd, and it’s a really cool track to drive. Very hard to overtake on, but good fun. I was pushing hard out there but we committed to the one-stop strategy quite early on, and that needed too much management really and proved tricky.

„It definitely wasn’t as fast as the two-stop. We ended up stopping late in the race for safety as we had the gap behind, and I was starting to get some tyre vibrations. We were lacking a bit of speed here compared to Red Bull but Monza is a completely different circuit so I’m hopeful we can compete there.”

Pierre Gasly, 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. I had fun today, I’m really pleased with everything, the car is really fast and I managed to get it set-up just the way I wanted.

„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 clearly maximised our package this weekend, so it’ll be interesting to see how it performs next weekend in Italy.”

Yuki Tsunoda, DNF

“Today’s result is disappointing of course, 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.”

Esteban Ocon, 9th

“It was an eventful race at the wheel, and I’m pleased to score points today. The start was pretty busy, but I enjoyed the battles out there. On our side, we probably had the pace to be a position or two higher, but we weren’t so lucky with some situations like blue flags at crucial times.

„As a team, though, we’ve shown good pace all weekend and we can be pleased with that. It’s important points for the constructors’ championship and we move onto Monza aiming for a repeat of the same. We were competitive there last year, and the target is to continue the points run.”

Fernando Alonso, 6th

“It was a good weekend for us. We take some good points with sixth position and I thought we were generally competitive all weekend. Our start was good, but it was very close into Turn 1 and 2 and I had to run wide to avoid hitting the cars around me. We then settled into a good rhythm and executed a solid race.

„Overtaking Carlos [Sainz] at the end felt fantastic, as early in the race I didn’t think we could catch the Ferraris. It’ll be interesting to see if we can carry our form into Monza. Spa in the dry was the first time we ran with a very low downforce, so let’s see if we can have another good weekend there.”

Daniel Ricciardo, 11th

“Difficult race. Coming up to the line, I went to pull the clutch and it wasn’t working, so my preferred clutch paddle had an issue. I did the start with my other hand and that was a big part of losing a position to Russell off the line. But we recovered well and I got back past Russell and Giovinazzi.

„We actually gained a position on lap one when I thought we were going to lose a few, so that was great. We were then just stuck behind the Alpines. They were saving the tyres and I was just trying to stay with them. Once they opened it up, I didn’t have their pace.

“We put the hard tyre on and were trying to get into a bit of a rhythm. We also tried to execute a team strategy to maximise points, which cost me some race time. It was hard to get going after that and I think ultimately the pace wasn’t that good. We did struggle a bit, for different reasons, in the first and second stint. We were P10 at one point today, but it was hard to see how we could’ve been much higher than that. I’d have obviously loved to score points, but we’ll analyse it and learn from it. Next up, Monza! Give me some pizza!”

Lando Norris, 10th

“A bit of a mixed result today. Disappointing because it’s P10, but good because I didn’t think we could’ve done a lot more from 13th. It’s such a difficult track to overtake on, but we had good pace, we had a good strategy and I think we have to be happy with one point. I think that’s the best we could’ve done today. Maybe if we’d started in a better position and did a better job yesterday, we could’ve achieved a little bit more – so we need to look at how we can learn from it. Still, I’m satisfied, and we’ll use it to make sure we bounce back and are much stronger in Monza.”

Sebastian Vettel, 13th

“It was one of those days which shows that if you start further back it is really hard to recover, especially on a track where overtaking is so tricky. I had to take a lot of risks when overtaking, but if you qualify out of position it is difficult to come back. When I did have some clean air, in the final part of the race, the pace was very competitive and I found a good rhythm. From where we started, we had to try to do something different with the strategy and I was happy with our approach.”

Lance Stroll, 12th

“We can see from the race just how important qualifying is and unfortunately we were compromised yesterday, so we had it all to do today. I made an okay start off the line, but I was not able to make up any places. After that, I could only really follow George [Russell] for the majority of the race in a train of cars. Without a significant tyre delta, it is almost impossible to overtake here.

„We will look into the strategy to see what else we could have done, but I do not think we could have done a lot differently. Zandvoort is a great track to drive and it is definitely more of a Saturday circuit. I am happy to see it on the calendar, but perhaps there are ways to look into improving overtaking on a Sunday. For now, we will reset and focus on Monza.”

George Russell, DNF

“Our race was respectable. The first stint was good, keeping up with Antonio Giovinazzi and the McLarens ahead. When I pitted, I pushed it to the maximum on the pit entry. It’s a really tricky entry here and I overdid it slightly unfortunately.

„The five second time penalty didn’t really compromise our race though and we would have come home either 12th or 13th if we hadn’t had to retire the car with a gearbox issue a few laps from the end. I am already looking forward to next weekend in Italy; Monza is a completely different track to here where we run almost minimum downforce compared to Zandvoort which is almost maximum downforce. We also have the sprint race too which will offer opportunities.”

Nicholas Latifi, 16th

“As we expected, Zandvoort was a tricky circuit for racing and there weren’t many opportunities to pass other cars out there. It was never going to be easy starting from the pit lane, and it took Sergio (Perez) and I about two laps to catch back up with the pack. The first stint was good; I managed to pass both Haas cars and I was happy with our pace.

„We did a long stint on the hard tyres though, so managing those became challenging towards the end of the race and I was losing temperature due to the blue flags, so it was a bit of a struggle today.”

Antonio Giovinazzi, 14th

“It was a good start from a good position, but already in the first lap I had contact with Fernando and dropped some places. We were still in the top ten and looking solid, but then a puncture compromised our race. It had been a really good weekend until then but that bad luck during the race means we didn’t score any points. Now we focus fully on Monza, my home race: I’m looking forward to giving a good show to all the Tifosi.”

Robert Kubica, 15th

“I am quite happy with my race, even if it was not easy to step in on one of the toughest, most physical tracks. Last time I did a full race distance was nearly two years ago in Abu Dhabi, but in the end it was a good race and I even had some fun battles. Everyone probably expected a chaotic race, with yellow flags, safety cars, but none of this happened: I still managed to have a good fight with Sebastian [Vettel] and then catch Latifi and pass him in the final lap, which was fun. Considering the amount of preparation I had, I am very pleased with how the race went and I am ready if the team needs me again.”

GP Netherlandsprevious