Neither rain, safety cars nor a red flag could keep Max Verstappen from a third consecutive win on home soil at the Dutch Grand Prix and to equal Sebastian Vettel’s decade-old record of nine consecutive wins Sunday.
“It’s incredible,” said race-winner Verstappen. “Also today, they didn’t make it easy for us with the weather, to make all the time the right calls. I’m incredibly proud. I already had goosebumps when they were playing the national anthem before the start. Even with all the bad weather, the rain, the fans were still going at it, so an incredible atmosphere.”
The only time Verstappen lost the lead was during a heavy rain shower that hit on the opening lap causing chaos in the field. His Red Bull Racing teammate Sergio Pérez pitted for Intermediate tires and charged through the field to snatch away the top spot.
Once he got on Intermediates however, Verstappen could not be stopped passing Pérez during a round of pit stops then kept control of the race through Safety Cars, more heavy rain, and red flags in the closing stages to take his 46th career win ahead of Aston Martin’s Fernando Alonso and Alpine’s Pierre Gasly.
On lap 16 Williams’ Logan Sargeant crashed at Turn 8. The Safety Car was released, and the field bunched up behind the Bulls until lap 21 when the caution ended.
Verstappen held the lead at the restart, with Pérez hanging on to second to keep Alonso at bay. Behind the front three, Gasly held fourth place despite heavy pressure from Sainz.
At the front, Verstappen was steadily building a gap to his teammate and by lap 44 he was 11 seconds ahead. Pérez then made another stop, for more softs, and dropped to fourth place behind Gasly.
Gasly made his pit stop on lap 47 and served a five-second penalty for an earlier speeding offence in the pit lane and Pérez moved back to third place, which became second when Alonso pitted at the end of lap 48. The Spaniard’s stop was slow due to the problem with his front left tire and he lost third place to Sainz.
Gasly then made his way past Sainz at the start of lap 60 but within a lap the rain that had been moving towards Zandvoort for some time began to fall. Pérez was again the first to react and he pitted for Inters. The Mexican was followed by a stream of cars and then on the following lap, Verstappen made his stop and resumed in the lead.
Pérez then went off at Turn 1 and clipped the barriers. He was able to continue but lost P2 to Alonso.
The rain was now intensifying and when Zhou lost control and went into the barriers at Turn 1, the VSC was deployed. With a sizeable gap in hand, Verstappen headed into the pit lane for full wet tires and with torrential rain falling, Pérez followed.
However, during the Mexican’s stop the race was red flagged and he was forced to stop at the end of the pit lane as the rest of the field tip-toed through the treacherous conditions to join him. The stoppage was also a chance for the team to assess the damage caused to the Mexican’s car in his Turn 1 spin and contact with the barrier and when he clipped the wall at the pit entry on the way into the pit lane, a moment that would later compromise his race.
After almost 45 minutes Race Control indicated that the race would get underway again, with a rolling start and with intermediate tires specified and with Verstappen at the front of the pack ahead of Alonso and Pérez.
On the restart Verstappen pulled away at the front and after 72 laps the Dutchman crossed the line to take his ninth win of 2023.
Despite pressure from behind, Alonso took P2.
“It was a very intense race,” said Alonso. “Obviously at the beginning, with the wet conditions, we were very, very fast, and we stopped maybe one lap too late, but the same as the leaders.
“I’m happy for Max, congratulations for everyone [here]. I did think about trying a move at the last restart, but then I thought maybe I cannot exit the circuit! So, I stayed calm in second.”
Pérez was scored third at the line, but he was handed a five-second penalty for his tire switch in the heavy rain, during which he exceeded the pit lane speed limit. The penalty saw Gasly rising to third as Pérez’s penalty was applied.
“It feels good. I must say, it feels good,” said Gasly, who last finished on a Grand Prix podium in Azerbaijan in 2021. “Especially at the start of the season, I felt like we were pretty unfortunate on a number of occasions and we were like, ‘Okay, there’s nothing we can do, just keep pushing, focusing on ourselves and improve what we can and what we have in our hands’.”
Pérez was left with fourth ahead of Sainz, Hamilton and Norris. Albon finished eighth ahead of Piastri and the final point went to Alpine’s Esteban Ocon.
|1||1||Red Bull Racing Honda RBPT||72||2:24:04.411||25|
|2||14||Aston Martin Aramco Mercedes||72||+3.744s||19|
|4||11||Red Bull Racing Honda RBPT||72||+10.068s||12|
|11||18||Aston Martin Aramco Mercedes||72||+20.087s||0|
|13||40||AlphaTauri Honda RBPT||72||+26.147s||0|
|14||77||Alfa Romeo Ferrari||72||+27.388s||0|
|15||22||AlphaTauri Honda RBPT||72||+29.893s||0|
|NC||24||Alfa Romeo Ferrari||62||DNF||0|
Note – Alonso scored an additional point for setting the fastest lap of the race. Tsunoda received a five-second time penalty for causing a collision. Perez received a five-second time penalty for speeding in the pit lane. Magnussen received a five-second time penalty for falling more than 10 car lengths behind the Safety Car.
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