Fasten your seatbelts, this one is going all the way to Abu Dhabi.
Max Verstappen wrested control of the Formula One Drivers’ Championship title fight from Lewis Hamilton and Mercedes on a dramatic day in the Netherlands on Sunday.
The tight, twisting and sometimes-gravity-defying track at the Zandvoort Circuit did not disappoint. Despite a lack of overtaking opportunities, we were bumper to bumper from position 1 to 20.
Mayhem ensued with the green light: lap records fell and an orange-clad partisan Dutch crowd screamed the track down with flares burning and deafening cheers as Dutchman Max romped home to take a three-point lead over Hamilton in a Drivers’ Championship race Red Bull crave after years of Mercedes dominance.
Valtteri Bottas secured third spot as Sergio Perez again flopped and trundled home in eight place, handing Mercedes the upper hand in the Constructors’ Championship.
Mercedes are now 12 points ahead in the Constructors’ but Lewis is a crucial three behind Max in the Drivers’.
The track at Zandvoort seriously favoured Verstappen as he grew up on the Tarmac here, from karting to progress and then through the Formulas,
Hamilton was experiencing the serious ‘wall’ embankment for the first time and was three seconds behind his title rival at the chequred flag. But the drama was not done.
Bottas bagged fastest lap with minutes to go. It was snatched away by Hamilton on the final lap as he will not give an inch in this tussle.
He sounded seriously miffed at getting a point (which goes to fastes lap) over the radio. He demanded to pit, get new, soft tyres and then he hammered in a new world record on the track. All the while Verstappen cruised to his seventh win of the season and cement his place in Dutch history.
We are now halfway through the season, but we now know there will be more thrills and spills to come - quite literally around the next corner.
Italy (Monza) and Russia (Sochi) will suit the Mercedes set-up, but Verstappen is looking formidable. We can only guess how it will pan out, but we will be in for a thriller in Abu Dhabi (Yas Marina Circuit, December 12) as the curtain falls on one of the most memorable seasons in F1.