Max Verstappen once again wins the Dutch GP, despite a race characterised by rain and unstable conditions, taking a step closer to his third world title. The Dutchman thus claims nine consecutive wins, equaling Sebastian Vettel’s record. Fernando Alonso and Pierre Gasly joined him on the podium.
Crazy race with unstable weather: Verstappen the only certainty amidst rain and chaos
The thirteenth round of the season is staged at the home of the reigning world champion, Zandvoort. Once again, the Dutchman started on pole, starting alongside the McLaren of Lando Norris, always competitive on highly loaded circuits.
The gearbox on Charles Leclerc’s car was replaced pre-race, adopting an older specification, as was the chassis, after yesterday’s qualifying contact against the barriers.
All drivers chose to start on the softer tyre, with the exception of Lewis Hamilton and Nico Hulkenberg – who ran on the medium tyre.
The first lap was immediately ‘tricky’, with the rain suddenly hitting the circuit (especially in the last sector) just as the green flag went off.
Some gambled and changed for intermediate tyres, including Sergio Perez. Verstappen, together with other drivers, stayed out initially before stopping a lap later. After the dust settled, Verstappen ran in 4th with Perez in 1st.
On lap 11, the slick tyre started to work better than the intermediates. Most made the decision to stop, whilst Perez stayed out for a lap longer than teammate Max Verstappen. The controversial team radio from the Mexican came on the next lap: “Did they undercut us?”.
On lap 16, the first safety car took to the track, caused by Logan Sargeant, who went out after suffering a hydraulic failure that cost him control of the car. At this point, George Russell and Lance Stroll took advantage to make their third stop.
The race resumed on lap 22, with Max Verstappen immediately creating a vacuum against his teammate. In the meantime, they informed Leclerc his floor was damaged, with an estimated loss of around 60 load points. About twenty laps later, after being overtaken by Lawson, they inform the Monegasque that they will retire the car at the end of the lap.
Second stop a few laps later for Sainz, who, thanks to an 8s pit stop by Fernando Alonso, momentarily conquers the podium, but two laps later, the multiple world champion takes back the third position.
On lap 61, the rain returned, and Perez, together with Sainz, Gasly and the two Mercedes, decided to go to the pits to mount intermediate tyres.
The only one to try the full-wet was Esteban Ocon. Verstappen stopped a lap later, but was able to retain his lead.
Just a few laps later, Verstappen and Perez decided to pit to mount the full wets, with Zhou Guanyu hitting the barriers and ringing out a red flag.
It starts again after about forty minutes, with the obligation of the intermediate tire. The start will be carried out behind the Safety Car.
In these last six laps of the race, Lewis Hamilton tried to attack Carlos Sainz for fifth position, with the Spaniard managing to outscore the McLaren and Mercedes cars at a difficult circuit for the SF-23.
However, the winner of the Dutch Grand Prix was still Max Verstappen. The reigning world champion has always been in control of the leadership, making a difference, especially in the stints characterized by rain. It is the eleventh victory of the season for the Dutchman, moving to -5 from Prost and -7 despite him being ‘only’ 25 years old.
In second position was Fernando Alonso, taking a first podium in several months (since Canada), with his Aston Martin seemingly finding joy with their latest updates.
Pierre Gasly finished on the podium thanks to Perez’s 5s penalty for speeding in the pitlane, demonstrating excellent pace throughout the race despite driving a car from the middle of the group.
For the Frenchman, it is the fourth podium in his career as an F1 driver so far. Rounding out the top 10 were: Sainz, Hamilton, Norris, Albon, Piastri and Esteban Ocon.