Defending world champion Max Verstappen achieves his ninth consecutive victories this season, matching Sebastian Vettel’s record. The Red Bull driver was unaffected by the two rain showers and a red flag in an action-packed Dutch Grand Prix.
The championship leader kept calm during a six-lap shootout at the end of the race following a red flag for heavy rain, and managed a restart over Fernando Alonso perfectly to extend his streak of Formula 1 victories in a dominant 2023 season.
Heavy rainfall on lap 61 produced a stoppage as the race stewards waited for some of the rain to clear, which offered Verstappen a challenge to the lead that he’d held since lap 12.
Although Alonso got close at the restart and was on Verstappen’s tail at the first corner, the reigning champion held his nerve to build a 3.7-second lead by the end of the race to extend his championship lead.
Rain began to fall with the drivers’ visors at the start of the race, and the ensuing downpour left the circuit visibly wet towards the end of the lap and prompted a series of opportunistic drivers to pit immediately.
Sergio Perez was among them and collected the intermediate compound of tyre, which ensured he had the right tyre for the worsening conditions.
Verstappen elected to pit on the following lap, but his falling speeds on the soft tyre ensured that Perez could emerge ahead of his teammate. Checo picked his way past the yet-to-stop George Russell and Lando Norris, who were left behind on a damp circuit as efforts to brave the rain did not pay off.
Despite stopping a lap later, Verstappen’s laps on the intermediate tyre proved rapid and he was imbued with the confidence to carve his way through the order. He swiftly made his way up to second after clearing first-lap stoppers Zhou Guanyu and Pierre Gasly, and began to chase after Perez.
The circuit then began to dry, and indications from the drivers who did not stop suggested that the crossover point had emerged to prompt the intermediate runners to pit again.
Verstappen was granted the chance to pit ahead of Perez at the end of lap 11 to fit a fresh set of soft tyres, and the widening tyre delta between the two ensured Max was able to perform an undercut when Perez stopped a lap later.
After reclaiming the lead, Verstappen and Perez settled into a pattern before a lap 16 interruption for a safety car as Logan Sargeant put his Williams into the wall on the exit of Turn 8. The lap 22 restart was well managed by Verstappen, however, as Perez could not stay sealed to his team-mate’s gearbox and instead had to fend off Alonso into Turn 1.
The two made a further dry-weather pitstop each for new softs, but Perez calling in four laps earlier made little difference to Verstappen’s lead.
Verstappen was told of heavy rain impending as the weather radars showed a cell of heavy showers drawing nearer. It hit the Dutch coastal resort of Zandvoort on lap 60, and Perez was first in as Verstappen felt that it was dry enough to continue for one more lap. Even as conditions quickly intensified, Verstappen was able to return to the pits on lap 61 and collect the intermediates without losing too much time.
Then, Perez hurt his own chances considerably when he slipped off at Turn 1 on lap 63, giving second position to Alonso as he narrowly avoided the gravel.
Zhou Guanyu’s crash under the continuing rain at the first corner was enough for the FIA to upgrade an initial virtual safety car to a red flag, which saved Perez as his call for wet tyres was halted as the pitlane exit was closed but, as the order reverted to the previous lap, Checo’s long period of time sat stationary at the traffic lights did not hurt him.
After a 43-minute delay, the race resumed for the final eight laps remaining; two behind the safety car, before a six-lap shootout to decide the end of the race. Alonso attempted to pull close to Verstappen and tried varying lines to prise open an advantage, but had no answer to the speed of the Red Bull driver.
From there, Verstappen kept building his advantage and ultimately matched Sebastian Vettel’s streak of nine Formula 1 wins that the four-time champion achieved at the end of 2013.
Pierre Gasly joined Verstappen and Alonso on the podium, as Perez picked up a five-second penalty for speeding in the pitlane while getting himself into the correct order for the restart.
So congratulations to Max Verstappen in winning the Dutch Grand Prix in front of his passionate orange army. Despite the wet weather, the world champion remained calm and control to score another victory. The next race is Ferrari’s home event at Monza and it will be fascinating if Max can continue his winning form.
Dutch Grand Prix, race results:
1 Max Verstappen Red Bull 2:24:04.411
2 Fernando Alonso Aston Martin +3.744s
3 Pierre Gasly Alpine +7.058s
4 Sergio Perez Red Bull +10.068s
5 Carlos Sainz Ferrari +12.541s
6 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes +13.209s
7 Lando Norris McLaren +13.232s
8 Alex Albon Williams +15.155s
9 Oscar Piastri McLaren +16.580s
10 Esteban Ocon Alpine +18.346s
11 Lance Stroll Aston Martin +20.087s
12 Nico Hulkenberg Haas +20.840s
13 Liam Lawson AlphaTauri +26.147s
14 Kevin Magnussen Haas +26.410s
15 Valtteri Bottas Alfa Romeo +27.388s
16 Yuki Tsunoda AlphaTauri +29.893s
17 George Russell Mercedes +55.754s
Zhou Guanyu Alfa Romeo DNF
Charles Leclerc Ferrari DNF
Logan Sargeant Williams DNF