Charles Leclerc and Max Verstappen observed how tight the Zandvoort pit lane is while watching Carlos Sainz’s unsafe release at the 2022 Dutch Grand Prix.
Verstappen started on pole ahead of Leclerc and Sainz on Sunday, and that trio led in the opening stages, before a horrible pit stop from Ferrari put the Spaniard down the order.
The 24-year-old was later able to take advantage of a Virtual Safety Car to remain ahead both Mercedes drivers of Sir Lewis Hamilton and George Russell while they were on the one-stop.
Before the Dutchman’s second stop during the caution period, Hamilton had been trying to get past the other Red Bull of Sergio Perez, and it got a bit lairy when Sebastian Vettel exited the pits and got in the way of his fellow world champion.
Perez tried a darting move to the inside, which did not come off, and Hamilton got through, but the 32-year-old had gained his team-mate valuable time.
Though Verstappen cleared both Mercedes with his stop, Leclerc had pitted before the Virtual Safety Car, so the Monegasque ended up behind Hamilton and Russell when they double stacked as the Ferrari driver was adhering to his delta time.
The Mexican was passed by Russell, before making his second stop and re-joining in fifth ahead of Sainz.
The full Safety Car emerged when Valtteri Bottas stopped on the pit straight, allowing a cheap stop again for Verstappen, while Hamilton stayed out and took the lead.
The flurry of pit lane action enabled Fernando Alonso to jump Lando Norris and, while the McLaren crew were servicing the Briton’s car, Sainz had to exit the Ferrari box slowly to avoid them.
This took him right into the path of Alonso, earning him a five-second penalty.
Mercedes then boxed Russell, so Hamilton did not have any protection against Verstappen, who took the lead on the restart.
The 37-year-old was also cleared by his team-mate and Leclerc, who himself had stopped for Softs, and Hamilton eventually finished fourth having looked a contender for the win.
Perez ended sixth behind Sainz, but the 27-year-old’s penalty sent him down to eighth, as Perez inherited P5 ahead of Alonso and Norris after the McLaren driver was batted off by the double world champion.
Leclerc observed in the cool-down room that Norris had been quick while he was on the Hards.
“Lando was very strong on the Hard too,” said Leclerc.
“Was he? I don’t know,” replied Russell.
They then watched a replay of Perez trying to pass Hamilton on the inside of Turn Three.
“Oh wow, is that Checo? It’s too flat on the inside,” explained Verstappen.
“If they would have banked the inside as well, I think you could actually run there but…”
The shot of Sainz’s penalty-inducing incident appeared on screen, leading to a discussion as to the space, of lack thereof, in the pit lane.
“He took five seconds,” revealed Leclerc.
“It’s just because he anti-stalled, it’s very tight,” theorised Verstappen.
“It’s so bad,” Leclerc agreed.
As Russell was passing Hamilton, who was on old tyres, the seven-time champion moved across slightly, almost leading to a collision.
“That was a very close one!” said Russell as Verstappen’s jaw dopped.
Hamilton had been unhappy with Mercedes for leaving him out while pitting Russell, and he, in the heat of the moment, told them that they had “screwed” him.
Russell noted that restarting the race on used Mediums, particularly when others are on fresh Softs, was a tough task for his team-mate.
“It’s impossible to restart when you’re on the used tyre,” explained the 24-year-old.
“Yeah, you have no grip,” said Verstappen.
“We were pushing so much at the end, we were doing 20 laps on quali laps,” said Leclerc.
“It’s quite nice… for once,” joked Verstappen.
The Red Bull driver’s win in the Netherlands was his 10th of the season, equalling his tally from last year.