Verstappen achieves nine consecutive victories

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

Verstappen takes Dutch Grand Prix pole

Max Verstappen achieved a popular pole position in front his home orange army fans. It was a frantic qualifying session featuring two red flag moments and yet the defending champion beat Lando Norris by half a second.

The Red Bull driver set a time of one minute, 10.567 seconds lap, which remained untouchable in the final moments of Q3 to ensure a third consecutive pole at his local race to the delight of his fans.

Although the McLarens had headed the order prior to the Charles Leclerc-enforced red flag towards the end of qualifying, Verstappen set himself up for an all-or-nothing flyer at the end and set a difficult benchmark to beat.

Norris came close and had been up on Verstappen at the close of the first sector, but lost time in the middle part of the lap to cast aside his pole chances.

An already wild qualifying session assisted by a drying circuit came to a head in Q3, where the brace of red flags compressed the final hot laps into a final four-minute window.

Logan Sargeant produced the first red flag in Q3 having just crossed the line to slot in behind team-mate Alex Albon at the top of the charts, after sustaining a heavy crash at Turn 2 after losing the rear to bring out a red flag.

The restart came with eight minutes on the board and, although Albon looked set to better his time, he instead elected to retreat to the pits and handed George Russell the chance to move to the top of the times.

But the McLarens then went to the top, Norris setting a lap with one minute, 12.049 seconds to claim a time just 0.2 seconds clear of teammate Piastri – Verstappen only able to slot into third.

Leclerc then washed out on the exit of Turn 9 and clouted the barrier, prompting a further red flag with just four minutes left on the clock.

Verstappen’s lap proved unbeatable for Norris, while Russell snatched a provisional third position from Albon’s grasp at the very end of the session as the Williams driver had been on excellent form throughout Saturday’s sessions.

Albon had earlier headed Q1, and broke into Q3 with apparent ease despite Williams’ cool expectations for the Zandvoort weekend.

Fernando Alonso bagged fifth over Carlos Sainz, while Sergio Perez could only manage seventh, 1.3 seconds behind Verstappen’s benchmark.

Oscar Piastri was eighth fastest, ahead of Q3 crashers Leclerc and Sargeant, who nonetheless made his first Q3 appearance.

Lewis Hamilton was knocked out in Q2 by improvements from Norris and Sainz at the death of the second part of qualifying, having been unable to improve during his final attempts at a quick lap.

Hamilton was hovering on the precipice of the elimination zone and, his position became more precarious when Sainz employed a fresh set of intermediates to get through to Q3.

Norris then found more time to overturn, as Hamilton appeared to be baulked by Yuki Tsunoda when attempting to complete a lap.

Lance Stroll looked to have made his way into Q2, but Sargeant’s late flyer pushed the Aston Martin driver into P11 and out of qualifying. Pierre Gasly moved ahead of Hamilton but only set a time good enough for P12 as a solid first sector faded out over the rest of his last lap.

Tsunoda was P14, just 0.02 seconds clear of Nico Hulkenberg who had briefly made a play for a Q3 appearance before sliding down the order in a frenetic end to the session.

Leclerc narrowly avoided becoming the biggest scalp in Q1, but his final lap in the opening part of qualifying lifted him out of the drop zone by just 0.05 seconds over Zhou Guanyu.

The Ferrari driver was in the bottom five with seconds left in a frantic opening part of qualifying, where improving track conditions ensured that the timing board resembled a slot machine with frequent changes of position.

Despite mistakes on his final lap, having missed the apex at Turn 11 and put him off-line for Turn 12, a subsequent slide on the exit of Turn 13 could not stop the Ferrari driver from progressing at Zhou’s expense.

Zhou, who sustained a Turn 13 drift on his own best lap, headed Esteban Ocon in Q1 while Kevin Magnussen, Valtteri Bottas, and rookie Liam Lawson were also eliminated in the opening phase.

This was a tricky qualifying for Liam Lawson as he was drafting into the AlphaTauri seat after one practice session following Daniel Ricciardo suffering a hand injury in FP2. So with limited running, the best Lawson can do is get some racing experience.

Dutch Grand Prix, qualifying positions:
1 Max Verstappen Red Bull 1:10.567
2 Lando Norris McLaren 1:11.104
3 George Russell Mercedes 1:11.294
4 Alexander Albon Williams 1:11.419
5 Fernando Alonso Aston Martin 1:11.506
6 Carlos Sainz Ferrari 1:11.754
7 Sergio Perez Red Bull 1:11.880
8 Oscar Piastri McLaren 1:11.938
9 Charles Leclerc Ferrari 1:12.665
10 Logan Sargeant Williams 1:16.748
11 Lance Stroll Aston Martin 1:20.121
12 Pierre Gasly Alpine 1:20.128
13 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1:20.151
14 Yuki Tsunoda AlphaTaur 1:20.230
15 Nico Hulkenberg Haas 1:20.250
16 Zhou Guanyu Alfa Romeo 1:22.067
17 Esteban Ocon Alpine 1:22.110
18 Kevin Magnussen Haas 1:22.192
19 Valtteri Bottas Alfa Romeo 1:22.260
20 Liam Lawson AlphaTauri 1:23.420