DUTCH GP – Max Verstappen keeps his cool in a drama-filled race equalling Sebastian Vettel’s nine wins in a row

Testing & Race Reports

Max Verstappen had taken a third consecutive win at the Dutch Grand Prix and equal Sebastian Vettel’s nine-race win record a decade ago. The Dutchman once again completed the home double for the third year in a row, in mixed conditions the Red Bull driver looked unstoppable as he continued to march toward his third title.

While on paper it was one of the smallest winning margins of the season, that was because of the late red flag as heavy rain rolled in causing a half-hour stoppage. Verstappen didn’t appear to let a late red flag stop him seam rolling to his ninth win of the season, in a race where weather was the only real challenge to the Dutchman.

Verstappen’s control was clear it soon became clear this race would be about control, control of strategy, and response to the weather and following the first round of stops the Dutchman regained the lead and soon opened the gap. Another textbook win in one of the greatest seasons in the sports history.

Verstappen will have the opportunity at next weekend’s Italian Grand Prix to move beyond the nine successive wins Sebastian Vettel recorded for Red Bull in 2013. Victory at Monza as well will see him win every race of the ‘European season’ since the formation of the world championship.

He now leads the driver’s championship by a hundred and thirty-eight points from his teammate Sergio Perez with Fernando Alonso third. Red Bull lead Mercedes by two-hundred and eighty five in the constructors.

Alonso was second, the Aston Martin driver finishing two seconds behind Verstappen and set his own record for longest time between first and latest podium dating back to Malaysia 2003. Alonso in the closing sprint couldn’t get close enough to stop Verstappen claiming another home win at Zandvoort.

But the Spaniard on the restart did try to get close in the closing stages, he was on his tail into Tarzan, but Verstappen held his nerve on the restart to build nearly a four-second lead in the final ten lap sprint and take another win. He had managed to pass Perez when he went off in the closing stages as the conditions changed.

Pierre Gasly was third his first podium since Lusail in 2021, a much-needed boost for Alpine which has had a summer defined by dramas within its management. He even managed to make up for a five-second penalty for speeding in the pit lane to take his first podium of the season.

Verstappen said, “Incredible and today they didn’t make it easy for us with the weather to make all the right calls but incredibly proud, I already had goosebumps when they were playing the national anthem before the start.”

Alonso added, “It was a very intense race at the beginning with the wet conditions. We were very fast, we maybe stopped one lap too late, the same as the leaders. The car was flying, it was very competitive, very easy to drive.”

Perez was fourth, the Mexican dropping from third following a ten-second penalty for speeding in the pit lane. But he had already lost second to Alonso in the closing stages having slid wide with ten laps to go at Tarzan. That was just before the red flag, but while he gained the position back Alonso retook the position on the restart.

One of the questions going into this weekend was could Perez stop Verstappen marching towards his third title, until just before the red flag he was second then he ran wide losing a position to Alonso.

Aston Martin it was an encouraging performance, after they slipped to the back of the pack chasing Red Bull in the four races before the summer break. They had been hoping that the new floor could move them back ahead of Ferrari and Mercedes, with Alonso going with it with an outstanding drive.

Shortly after Guanyu Zhou made a mistake and slide wide at Tarzan as the rain was getting too heavy forcing drivers onto the full wet, but the virtual safety car was soon changed to a red flag.

The final sprint to the end was relatively uneventful after such a madcap race, as Verstappen eased away from Alonso on a wet track following a restart behind the safety car and the Spaniard held off Perez’s attacks. The first race after any kind of break, normally the winter or summer break, often proves to be drama-filled and action-packed.

Despite trying to get close to Perez, Carlos Sainz was fifth finishing ahead of Lewis Hamilton, both trying to get within ten seconds of Perez. While in the closing stages the two continued to fight hard but Hamilton couldn’t find a way passed the Ferrari, finishing sixth seven tenths behind.

Hamilton however did deliver a strong recovery drive after being caught out in changeable conditions in qualifying, he started thirteenth and made up seven places but couldn’t pass Sainz for fifth.

Sainz’s Ferrari teammate Charles Leclerc retired on lap forty, following a collision early on with Oscar Piastri and a poor stop. He had stayed in the race despite the floor damage before he tumbled down the order and that’s when Ferrari decided to retire him around half distance.

Regarding the clash with Piastri, he said: “We were in wet conditions with slicks, it was such a slight touch but for some reason, it had huge consequences on my car, so a shame.”

Lando Norris was seventh ahead of Alex Albon, the Williams driver has had a strong weekend after qualifying fourth. However, the McLaren driver made contact in the closing stages on the restart with George Russell, costing the Mercedes points, in what was called by the stewards to be a racing incident.

Russell had fought hard after losing out in terms of track position by earlier making the call for inters then the collision dropped him outside the points.  He told Sky Sports, “It was when we were side by side [contact with Lando Norris] in the chicane at the end of the lap”

“We had such a fast car but all the decisions with the weather went against us. We need to look into what we could have done better.”

Mercedes having one of their most difficult weekends through strategy and errors, Hamilton and Russell both struggling. Before the collision it was looking as if Russell was going to be in the leading pack, and after the race Hamilton saying the team had the pace to challenge Verstappen.

But they made the mistake of staying out too long on slicks, which turned out to be the wrong decision as the track conditions became progressively worse.

He said “In those conditions, if we’d made the right call, I had the pace to be challenging the top two. I think we would have been challenging Max if I’m really honest. Particularly when we got to the dry, pace-wise I think we weren’t terribly far off. I’m not saying that we’d beat them, but I think we would have been [close].”

Albon knew it was always likely he would need to be brave and bold, the bold move to stay on dry tyres through the first shower, that brought him into sixth place where he remained until the red flag. But it was always likely he would have lost a few positions on the restart, and he lost two positions to Hamilton and Norris, but split the McLarens finishing nearly a second and a half ahead of Oscar Piastri. Esteban Ocon completed the top ten.

Lance Stroll was eleventh ahead of Nico Hulkenberg, and Liam Lawson delivered a strong debut race finishing thirteenth for Alpha Tauri. The New Zealander was three and a half seconds ahead of teammate Yuki Tsunoda, he was brought into replace Daniel Ricciardo after a crash on Friday.




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