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Max Verstappen wins Dutch Grand Prix to the delight of home fans

<i>Bryn Lennon/Getty Images Europe/Getty Images</i><br/>Fans show their support for Verstappen in the Netherlands.
Bryn Lennon
Bryn Lennon/Getty Images Europe/Getty Images
Fans show their support for Verstappen in the Netherlands.

By George Ramsay, CNN

Max Verstappen regained the top spot of the Formula One championship standings as he won the Dutch Grand Prix in front of raucous home support.

A sea of fans dressed in orange roared loudly as Red Bull’s Verstappen took the checkered flag at Zandvoort, while orange flares were also set off from the stands following the conclusion of the first Dutch GP since 1985.

Verstappen started the race in pole and finished more than 20 seconds ahead of championship rival Hamilton, whose Mercedes teammate Valtteri Bottas completed the podium in third.

AlphaTauri’s Pierre Gasly was fourth, while Charles Leclerc of Ferrari was fifth.

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“Of course, the expectations were very high going into the weekend and it’s never easy to fulfill that,” 23-year-old Verstappen said after the win.

“I’m so happy to win here and to take the lead in the championship. It’s just an amazing day with the whole crowd here. It’s incredible.”

In a closely-fought championship, Verstappen moves to the top of the driver standings with 224.5 points, while Hamilton is second on 221.5 points.

While Bottas led briefly at one point as Verstappen and Hamilton both pitted, the race always looked set to be a shootout between the two championship leaders, who soon caught up with the Finn after their pit stops.

Tailing his rival throughout the 72-lap race as both drivers’ teams settled on a two-stop strategy, Hamilton admitted afterward that his Mercedes just wasn’t fast enough on the day.

“I gave it absolutely everything today, flat out, I pushed as hard as I could, but they were just too quick for us,” the seven-time F1 champion said.

Hamilton did pick up an extra point for the championship standings by recording the fastest lap time of the day over Bottas with his final lap after pitting for soft tires.

The victory was Verstappen’s seventh of the season and fifth from the last seven races as he chases his first F1 championship title — although the win he was awarded at last week’s Belgian GP was only worth half the usual points amid rainswept conditions.

Three consecutive weekends of F1 action conclude next week at the Italian Grand Prix in Monza, the 14th race of the season.

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