Max Verstappen felt it was ‘incredible’ to win his home race, with the Dutchman triumphing in Sunday’s Dutch Grand Prix at the Circuit Zandvoort despite almost race long pressure from behind from Lewis Hamilton.
The Red Bull Racing driver took a superb pole position on Saturday afternoon and held onto the lead at the start, with the Dutchman building a gap when needed in order to stay ahead when making his pit stop. To the delight of his orange army, he took his seventh victory of the season and the lead in the Drivers’ Championship standings.
Verstappen admitted the expectations were high coming into the weekend with the supporters at the track almost inclusively in his corner, but he felt it was a positive Team performance at Zandvoort that saw him withstand the pressure from Hamilton and the Mercedes-AMG Petronas Formula One Team.
“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,” said Verstappen. “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.”
Verstappen admits racing in front of his home fans was an incredible feeling, but he knows he will have little time to celebrate with the Italian Grand Prix coming up this weekend.
“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,” he said.
“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.”
“Every overtake was on the limit and I had to take a lot of risks” – Sergio Pérez
Team-mate Sergio Pérez finished eighth on Sunday despite starting the race from the pit lane, with the Mexican pulling off a number of impressive overtakes around a track that was expected to be difficult to pass.
Pérez admitted he had to take risks in order to fight for points, with his move on Lando Norris particularly close as they two banged wheels. Ultimately, he felt sixth could have been a possibility had he not been delayed as much as he was by some of his rivals defending as robustly as they did.
“I gave it my all, every overtake was on the limit and I had to take a lot of risks,” said Pérez. “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.”