Max Verstappen equals Sebastian Vettel’s record for most consecutive wins as he takes victory in front of his home crowd at the Dutch Grand Prix.
Though he may have taken victory today, the race didn’t start very well for him. Rain had begun to fall almost as soon as the race started, and it came down quickly. Whilst some did pit for intermediate tyres, including Sergio Perez, Verstappen was one of the drivers who stayed out. This was because some believed the rain would quick pass and dry up. However it quickly became clear that the intermediates were the tyre to be on with those staying on softs crawling around the circuit and quickly being caught by Perez. Verstappen would bite the bullet and come in at the end of lap 2, dropping down to 13th.
Verstappen pitting, alongside Alonso who’d made his way up to second, meant that George Russell and Lando Norris were briefly fighting for the lead, as the former overtook the latter into turn 1. However Perez’s pace over them was incredible, and he was able to breeze past both of them and begin build a lead up front on lap 3. Russell and Norris would pit after this.
The chaos of the opening laps had meant that many drivers would be put out of place to where they’d typically be. After 5 laps, Zhou Guanyu was in second place, Pierre Gasly was in third, whilst both Mercedes cars were down in 15th and 17th. It had also undone some of yesterday’s strong qualifying performances, such as Norris dropping from second to twelfth and Albon from fourth to thirteenth. This meant there would be a number of recovery drives on display throughout the race.
One such recovery drive was from Max Verstappen, who had already gotten back into second place by lap 7, though with a gap of just under 11 seconds to Perez ahead. However, despite being in the same car, Verstappen demonstrated unimaginable levels of pace as he quickly closed that gap down, including being 4 seconds faster on lap 7 alone.
However there would be no overtake on track for Verstappen on Perez, as he would be the first of the two to pit back onto softs once it became clear they were once again the faster tyre. This gave him enough of an undercut to retake the lead on lap 13.
A few laps later, Logan Sargeant had crashed into the barrier after suffering what Williams say was a hydraulics failure. This brought out the safety car, and though some did choose to pit, most remained on their current tyres.
Green flag racing resumed on lap 22 and the race began to settle down compared to the start. That isn’t to say there wasn’t plenty of on track action however. Zhou Guanyu was effectively a sitting duck having gone onto mediums, with them providing his Alfa Romeo with no pace. He was soon overtaken by the likes of Magnussen, Albon and Tsunoda.
A little further back and Leclerc had began to fall away, with Hamilton looking to take twelfth place away from him. The move would finally come on lap 26 coming into turn 1, whilst Piastri would make his way past at turn 3, dropping Leclerc down to 14th.
Hamilton would go onto chase down Norris, with the two fighting over the last points paying position once they’d both gotten past Magnussen. They would then move into ninth and tenth once Norris had made the move on the Alfa Romeo driver, with Hamilton following him through not long after.
Albon had performed a strong recovery by the halfway point in the race, having gotten back up to sixth, having been one of the drivers who stayed on dry tyres during the wet period. What made his performance even more impressive was the fact that he’d done this and maintained a competitive pace on softs that lasted until lap 44, when he finally pit onto new mediums.
Leclerc’s race went from bad to worse when on lap 46 he was finally forced to retire following an issue with his car.
A slow pit stop on lap 49 for Fernando Alonso meant that his third place position had temporarily been conceded to fellow Spaniard Carlos Sainz. However Alonso was able to make light work of the Ferrari driver, taking back the final podium spot three laps later.
Rain had been threatening to return for a number of laps as the clouds grew darker in the sky at Zandvoort. It would finally arrive on lap 61 and it was quickly pouring down. Everyone except Ocon had gone onto the intermediate tyres, though it quickly became clear that extreme wet tyres would soon be needed. This would be seen when multiple drivers would begin to go off at turn 1, including Sergio Perez, Valtteri Bottas, Yuki Tsunoda, Lewis Hamilton and Zhou Guanyu, with Zhou heading into the barriers and bringing out the red flag.
Perez had pit just before the red flag was called, which had brought him down to sixth. However the order was set from the lap prior to the red flag, meaning he would resume in third, having lost a place to Alonso due to his excursion at turn 1. However this would be the only bit of good fortune he would receive, as he would then get a five second penalty for speeding in the pitlane.
Green flag racing would eventually resume once conditions improved, with a rolling start on intermediates beginning a six lap shootout to the end. Alonso would look to try and close in on Verstappen for the first couple of laps, though would quickly fall away once more and stay put in second.
George Russell would have to retire with only a few laps to go, having picked up a puncture after minor contact with Norris.
Lewis Hamilton was chasing down Sainz for fifth place, and was practically pushing him through some corners, though was unable to find a way past in the end. He also had to remain wary of Norris just behind him, and was able to stay ahead by just 23 thousandths of a second come the end of the race.
Up ahead and Perez’s five second penalty would ultimately cost him a podium place, with Pierre Gasly being within a couple seconds of the Mexican driver by the time they’d reached the chequered flag. This is Gasly’s first grand prix podium for Alpine, and his first since the 2021 Azerbaijan Grand Prix.
Max Verstappen’s victory means he is now the second man to have ever achieved nine grand prix victories in a row, alongside Sebastian Vettel. He will have the opportunity to take the outright record next weekend when F1 concludes the European leg of the season at Monza for the Italian Grand Prix.