Dutch Grand Prix – Max Verstappen had taken his third win at Zandvoort to equal Sebastien Vettel’s record of nine consecutive race wins.
After a wet-dry qualifying threw up some surprises on the way to pole, the eventual polesitter was much less of a surprise as Max Verstappen took his ninth of the season, the third in a row at his home race. He’ll be joined on the front row by Lando Norris while George Russell took P3.
The sun was shining in the build up to the race but as the national anthem rang out the dark clouds had returned with spits of rain starting as the intriguing mix of a DJ playing house music with Andre Rieu and the Johann Strauss Orchestra in ballgowns and tuxedos behind him kept the spirits up.
There would be nineteen cars lining up on the grid after Kevin Magnussen, who qualified P18, changed power unit and gearbox parts in parc ferme so he would now be starting from the pit lane.
After qualifying the stewards handed Yuki Tsunoda a three place penalty for impeding Lewis Hamilton, so he will start P17, while Carlos Sainz got away with just a reprimand for his potentially dangerous manoeuvre on Oscar Piastri as the Spaniard came out of the pitlane into the McLaren driver’s way. Ferrari were fined €5,000 for not warning Sainz of the cars that would be around him as he exited.
There would only be one driver not starting on the soft tyres as the race got underway, Hamilton in P13 had chosen the mediums instead.
As the cars came around to the end of the formation lap the rain started coming down but everything started as planned and it was Fernando Alonso who got the best start, the Aston Martin racer dispatching Alex Albon and Russell to move into P3 on the opening lap. The heavens opened at the end of the first lap and seven drivers ducked into the pit lane to switch to intermediates, Sergio Perez and Charles Leclerc among them.
At the front Alonso had improved even more, getting past Norris to slip into P2. More cars headed to the pits, Verstappen, Alonso and Sainz taking the green-ringed tyres while McLaren felt the rain was easing so kept their drivers out.
Norris briefly had the lead but Russell got ahead at the first corner and then the McLaren driver got slightly offline and lost out to Perez who was flying on his intermediates. By lap three Perez was leading the race and Norris reconsidered remaining on the softs and ducked into the pits at the end of the lap.
By lap five Perez had an eleven second gap to Zhou Guanyu in P2 while Pierre Gasly was just ahead of Verstappen in P3. The early stop had also improved Leclerc’s position with the Ferrari driver in P5 ahead of Alonso and Sainz. However he could have been even higher up if he hadn’t had a long stop as Ferrari hadn’t his tyres ready when he pitted. Norris was P12 while Russell, who’d just emerged finally had his stop, was behind his teammate in P18.
Albon, Piastri, Valtteri Bottas, Nico Hulkenberg and Logan Sargeant, all out of the points, were the only ones who had stuck it out on the slick tyres. Liam Lawson hadn’t had to wait long in his F1 career to get a penalty as the AlphaTauri rookie was handed a 10 second penalty for impeding Magnussen in the pits.
On lap 10, with more rain predicted to be on the way, Verstappen had moved into P2 and had closed the gap to Perez to less than five seconds. Despite Mercedes telling Russell that rain was coming though it would be lighter than before, Piastri was lapping quickly on the softs so the intermediates were removed with Hamilton one of the first to go back to slicks.
Everyone was back on dry tyres by lap 13 and Verstappen undercut Perez to swap the positions and gap at the front, while Alonso was in P3.
The rain started again a couple of laps later but, as predicted, it was lighter than previously but on lap 16 the Safety Car joined the fun when Sargeant went into the barriers at the exit of T8. The Williams drivers were the only cars who hadn’t pitted and were still on the softs they started the race on, with Albon up in P8.
The race was back on at the start of lap 22 and while Alonso looked to have a go at Perez in P2, it remained as a Red Bull 1-2. Right behind them Sainz tried to make his own move on Gasly in P4 but the Alpine racer held the spot though he will have to serve a 5 second penalty for speeding in the pit lane.
There were some interesting moves over the next few laps, Piastri making a great move in Leclerc for P13 while Norris made it back into the points after dispatching Magnussen. The Haas driver had his own interesting moment prior to that and was shown the black and white flag for moving under braking at the restart.
The closest drivers on track then were Tsunoda, Norris and Hamilton, the AlphaTauri driver doing a good job defending his P8 while Piastri had made it to P11 and was closing in on the back of them.
Sainz headed back to the pits on lap 42 and rejoined in P11 on a fresher set of softs. Just after that Leclerc retired his car due to floor damage.
After so many laps stuck behind Tsunoda, Norris stopped on lap 44 to strap newer soft tyres on and get out in clear air in P14. Lap 46 saw Albon finally get rid of the tyres he started on, the Williams driver dropping from P5 to P11 as he emerged on the medium compound.
Once all the front runners had finished their stops, Verstappen and Perez remained at the front but a slow stop for Alonso, his front left not coming off easily, saw him emerge behind Sainz and Tsunoda, who was still to pit. The Aston Martin driver though quickly dispatched both the Japanese driver and his countryman to retake the final podium place while Gasly, who’d had to serve his five second penalty, slotted in behind them.
Lap 57 saw spits of rain appear once again and the prediction was that the coming shower would be heavier than at the start of the race.
With just over ten laps to go Albon got past Russell for P6, before having a moment on the grass on his own, ahead of them Gasly made it past Sainz for P4 just before the rain started and Perez led the charge to the pits for intermediates.
Verstappen and Perez remained at the front, despite the Mexican having a slow stop, but he then lost the spot to Alonso after locking up in the heavy rain.
The Virtual Safety Car was called on lap 63 as Zhou aquaplaned into the barrier at T1, the Alfa Romeo driver wasn’t the only one as others also went into the run off or through the gravel there, Perez and Hamilton among them. Verstappen had just emerged after swapping to full wets while other drivers had headed into the pits for their own changes as the race got Red Flagged on lap 64.
For the race restart the grid order wouldn’t be as it was when the Reds came out instead it would be from before that so those who’d just headed to the pits and lost position will regain them again, and the damage Perez had taken when he touched the pit wall on his way in for that stop, was able to be repaired during the pause.
The restart was scheduled for 5:14 local time, so just about 45 minutes after the Red Flags were flown, and everything would get back underway with a rolling start after two laps behind the Safety Car and all cars would be required to be on intermediate tyres.
The race was back to green flag on lap 67 Alonso doing his best to stay with and try to pass Verstappen. Perez remained in P3 but he was handed a five second penalty for speeding in the pit lane so he would need to pull a gap to Gasly to keep the final podium spot. Further back in the top ten Russell got past Norris for P7 but then the Mercedes driver fell back and had to pit for a puncture, most likely from contact with Norris.
Heading into the final lap Verstappen had pulled a few seconds of a gap and while Perez was within a second of Alonso there would be no way for him to pull enough of a gap if he got ahead and it didn’t look like he would be holding on to a podium as Gasly was still within five seconds of the Red Bull driver.
Verstappen took the victory to equal Vettel’s record of nine consecutive race wins, Alonso took P2 and also denied the home driver the fastest lap by setting a 1:13.837 to Verstappen’s 1:13.889. The Spaniard joked that he thought about making a move on Verstappen at the restart but didn’t think he’d make it out of the track if he did.
Gasly was ecstatic with his P3 and felt that Perez’ penalty for speeding evened out the French driver’s own one from earlier in the race. Gasly was just 0.1km/h over the 60km/h limit while Perez was 0.8km/h too fast. The penalty dropped the Red Bull driver to P4 while Sainz came home in P5, Hamilton just six tenths behind him while Norris almost snatched the P6 from the seven-time champion, taking the chequered flag just 0.023 seconds after him.
it was another fantastic result for Albon as he bagged his fourth points finish of the season for Williams with another P8. Piastri took P9 for McLaren while the final point went to Alpine’s Esteban Ocon.
In his debut race, Lawson brought his AlphaTauri home in P13, ahead of Magnussen, Bottas, Tsunoda and Russell. The Kiwi took the chequered flag after his teammate but Tsunoda had a five second penalty for a collision with Russell which dropped him back in the order.