'Never seen this': F1 fans erupt over 'insane' scenes at Dutch GP

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Max Verstappen, pictured here after becoming the first Dutch driver to win his home Grand Prix.
Max Verstappen became the first Dutch driver to win his home Grand Prix. Image: Getty

Max Verstappen has reclaimed the F1 championship lead in extraordinary scenes at his home Grand Prix in the Netherlands.

The 23-year-old made light of the burden of expectation to become the first Dutch driver in F1 history to win his home Grand Prix.

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The Red Bull driver triggered chaotic scenes at Zandvoort as a capacity crowd of 70,000 celebrated his victory and surge to the top of the championship standings.

The 70,000-strong crowd was decked out in bright orange shirts and lit orange flares during and after the race.

“As you can hear, it’s incredible,” Verstappen said of the crowd support, who took advantage of the removal of Covid restrictions.

“Obviously the expectations were high going into the weekend and it’s never easy to fulfil that, but I’m just so happy to win here, to take the lead in the championship as well.

“It’s just an amazing day. The whole crowd ... it’s incredible.

“Mercedes tried to make it difficult for us but we countered them all the time really well. We can be really pleased with the whole team performance today.”

Over 70,000 fans, pictured here watching Max Verstappen win the Dutch Grand Prix.
Over 70,000 fans showed up to watch Max Verstappen win the Dutch Grand Prix. (Photo by Dan Istitene - Formula 1/Formula 1 via Getty Images)

The revival of the Dutch GP at Zandvoort in 2021 after a 36-year absence owed everything to Verstappen's surging popularity and success, the Dutchman the first championship contender the country has produced.

The man who started the hype rolling as Formula One's youngest ever driver (at 17) was already the youngest points scorer (17), podium finisher (18) and race winner (18).

Organisers had said before the event that they could have sold one million tickets, far beyond capacity and Covid-19 restrictions, and those who did get in were there for a Verstappen victory.

Fans flocked to social media in disbelief over the size of the crowd - a rare sight since the start of the coronavirus pandemic.

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Max Verstappen re-claims championship lead

Verstappen re-claimed the championship lead with the victory, earning a three-point buffer over seven-time world champ Lewis Hamilton who came second on Sunday.

Verstappen will be hard to overhaul in the championship with nine rounds remaining.

The Red Bull driver finished 21 seconds ahead of Hamilton to ice his seventh win of the season and 17th of his career.

Hamilton softened the blow with a bonus point for fastest lap, while his Mercedes teammate Valtteri Bottas was third.

Verstappen's winning margin was exaggerated because Hamilton had to pit again to wrestle back the bonus point from Bottas.

Mercedes told Bottas to abort his bid for fastest lap, but it was too late and forced Hamilton to retrieve it.

Max Verstappen, pictured here sending the 70,000 fans at the Dutch Grand Prix into raptures.
Max Verstappen sent the 70,000 fans at the Dutch Grand Prix into raptures. (Photo by Boris Streubel/Getty Images)

A jubilant Verstappen grabbed a Dutch flag and celebrated with the adoring fans who had turned the stands by the seaside town into an orange sea of bodies.

Orange flares were lit and feet were stamped as Verstappen turned to the crowd with a clenched fist after a clinical drive.

AlphaTauri driver Pierre Gasly placed fourth ahead of Ferrari's Charles Leclerc and Alpine driver Fernando Alonso, while Australia's Daniel Ricciardo was 11th in his McLaren.

Verstappen started from pole position for a season-leading seventh time, and sixth in the past seven races, courtesy of a brilliant qualifying session on Saturday.

He will look to carry his momentum into the Italian GP at Monza next weekend, where Hamilton again seeks a record-extending 100th win.

"I gave it absolutely everything today, flat-out. I pushed as hard as I could. But they were just too quick for us," Hamilton said.

with AAP

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