F1 Dutch GP: Verstappen fends off Alonso in red-flagged, rain hit race
Max Verstappen shrugged off two downpours and a red flag during an action-packed Dutch Grand Prix to claim his ninth Formula 1 win in a row.
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 F1 victories in a dominant 2023 season.
Heavy rainfall on the 61st lap produced a stoppage as the FIA 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 fleck 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.
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 team-mate. The Mexican picked his way past the yet-to-stop George Russell and Lando Norris, who were floundering around 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.
Fernando Alonso, Aston Martin AMR23
Photo by: Zak Mauger / Motorsport Images
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 the Dutchman 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 the road at Turn 1 on lap 63, ceding second place 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, and Perez's blushes were spared; his call for wet tyres was halted as the pitlane exit was closed but, as the order reverted to the previous lap, his achingly long period of time sat stationary at the traffic lights did not hurt him.
Pierre Gasly, Alpine A523, Nico Hulkenberg, Haas VF-23, Valtteri Bottas, Alfa Romeo C43
Photo by: Dom Romney / Motorsport Images
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 F1 wins that the German 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 during the red flag.
Carlos Sainz came under heavy pressure from Lewis Hamilton in the final six laps of the race, but was able to ward off the Briton to keep fifth place. Hamilton had been one of those at the start who had persisted with slicks, but relented at the end of the third lap to fit intermediates - falling down the pecking order.
He nonetheless recovered to collect sixth, as Lando Norris followed the two cars ahead closely to finish seventh. The McLaren driver had a late scuffle with George Russell as the two battled for position, with Russell hoping to atone from the late initial call for inters early on that destroyed his hopes of a podium.
Russell's long stint on the hard brought him back into the points, but contact with Norris sent him off the road and having to return to the pits. The incident was noted, but with no further action taken.
This elevated Alex Albon to eighth after his late decision to switch to inters ahead of the second downpour had cost him positions after running in sixth place for the bulk of the grand prix, as Oscar Piastri finished the race in ninth. Esteban Ocon completed the scorers in 10th, as Russell dropped out of the top 10 after his Norris clash.
F1 Dutch GP race results
|1||M. Verstappen Max Verstappen Red Bull Racing||1||72||2:24'04.411||6||25||Red Bull||Red Bull|
|2||F. Alonso Fernando Alonso Aston Martin Racing||14||72||+3.744||3.744||5||19||Aston Martin||Mercedes|
|3||P. Gasly Pierre Gasly Alpine||10||72||+7.058||3.314||5||15||Alpine||Renault|
|4||S. Perez Sergio Perez Red Bull Racing||11||72||+10.068||3.010||6||12||Red Bull||Red Bull|
|5||C. Sainz Carlos Sainz Ferrari||55||72||+12.541||2.473||5||10||Ferrari||Ferrari|
|6||L. Hamilton Lewis Hamilton Mercedes||44||72||+13.209||0.668||5||8||Mercedes||Mercedes|
|7||L. Norris Lando Norris McLaren||4||72||+13.232||0.023||6||6||McLaren||Mercedes|
|8||A. Albon Alex Albon Williams||23||72||+15.155||1.923||4||4||Williams||Mercedes|
|9||O. Piastri Oscar Piastri McLaren||81||72||+16.580||1.425||5||2||McLaren||Mercedes|
|10||E. Ocon Esteban Ocon Alpine||31||72||+18.346||1.766||6||1||Alpine||Renault|
|11||L. Stroll Lance Stroll Aston Martin Racing||18||72||+20.087||1.741||7||Aston Martin||Mercedes|
|12||N. Hulkenberg Nico Hulkenberg Haas F1 Team||27||72||+20.840||0.753||5||Haas||Ferrari|
|13||L. Lawson Liam Lawson AlphaTauri||40||72||+26.147||5.307||7||AlphaTauri||Red Bull|
|14||K. Magnussen Kevin Magnussen Haas F1 Team||20||72||+26.410||0.263||6||Haas||Ferrari|
|15||V. Bottas Valtteri Bottas Alfa Romeo F1 Team KICK||77||72||+27.388||0.978||5||Alfa Romeo||Ferrari|
|16||Y. Tsunoda Yuki Tsunoda AlphaTauri||22||72||+29.893||2.505||5||AlphaTauri||Red Bull|
|17||G. Russell George Russell Mercedes||63||72||+55.754||25.861||7||Mercedes||Mercedes|
|dnf||Z. Guanyu Zhou Guanyu Alfa Romeo F1 Team KICK||24||62||4||Spun off||Alfa Romeo||Ferrari|
|dnf||C. Leclerc Charles Leclerc Ferrari||16||41||3||Collision||Ferrari||Ferrari|
|dnf||L. Sargeant Logan Sargeant Williams||2||14||Spun off||Williams||Mercedes|
|View full results|
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