Max Verstappen survives torrential weather chaos, scores F1 record-equaling ninth win in a row at Dutch Grand Prix
FiredUp Network Sports Writer
Sunday, August 27, 2023
Photo Credit: Sporting News
Through all of Red Bull and Max Verstappen’s wins in 2023, a few of them have presented challenges.
In Saudi Arabia, Verstappen started 15th after a driveshaft failure in qualifying, only to finish 2nd. In Miami, an ill-timed red flag started the Dutchman in 9th, only for him to win anyways.
At the Belgian Grand Prix, Verstappen started mid pack again after an engine penalty, only to take the lead less than midway through and win again.
The Dutch Grand Prix was a set of circumstances he hadn’t faced all year, though. In a rare chaotic 2023 race, one would’ve thought that maybe - just maybe - Verstappen and Red Bull would slip.
He still came through.
In a crazy dry-wet-dry-wet event at Zandvoort, Verstappen fell to fifth after pitting a lap later for intermediates to everyone else, and still came back through to retake the lead when the track dried back out.
When the torrential rain storm came with under ten laps to go to cause a red flag, Verstappen held his head on the restart to fend off Fernando Alonso and cruised to yet another win.
Verstappen scored his eleventh win of the 2023 season at his home Grand Prix, which crucially marked his record-equaling ninth win in a row. He is now level with Sebastian Vettel, who also won nine in a row with the same Red Bull team back in 2013.
On top of that, it was Verstappen’s third win in three races in his native Netherlands. He is unbeaten in Formula 1 at Zandvoort.
The story of the race, though, was the weather. On the opening lap of the race, rain began to fall, which caused chaos in the pit lane with most pitting for intermediates, albeit on different laps, and some staying out on slicks.
That massively shook up the order, and even the strategy for the remainder of the race once the track dried back up.
With around ten laps to go, teams informed their drivers that a massive storm was coming, and that rain was going to be very heavy.
It came in buckets soon after, which caused drivers to instantly come in for intermediates, and even wets, before the race was red flagged for aquaplaning and visibility.
Just before that, Zhou Guanyu also crashed hard into Turn 1, while Sergio Perez fell out of second place with a spin in the same turn.
The race was stopped for over 40 minutes, before the final eight laps were completed in intermediate conditions.
Finishing second was Alonso for Aston Martin, who scored his first podium since the Canadian Grand Prix in mid June.
Alonso started fifth, and quickly got into third on the start, before passing Sergio Perez for second during the heavy rain storm at the end when the Mexican went off at Turn 1.
While Perez followed Alonso over the line in third, he received a 5-second penalty for speeding in the pit lane when he pitted for extreme wet tires before the red flag, which promoted Pierre Gasly to P3 for Alpine.
Gasly benefited huge from the opening lap rain and subsequent scramble in the pits for intermediates, which saw him run in the top five all race long.
It was the Frenchman’s first Grand Prix podium since Azerbaijan in 2021, and his first for Alpine.
Behind Perez in fourth was Carlos Sainz in fifth for Ferrari, who salvaged some points on a bad day, and weekend for the Scuderia with Leclerc scoring a DNF.
Lewis Hamilton finished sixth for Mercedes after starting outside of the top ten, ahead of Lando Norris in seventh for McLaren.
Norris started the race on the front row alongside Verstappen, and climbed back to score a decent result after falling way down the order after the rain chaos in the opening stages.
Alex Albon finished eighth for Williams, who lost spots from a P4 start after staying out on slick tires. He came home just ahead of Oscar Piastri in ninth, and Esteban Ocon in tenth.
Had the race not been rightfully red flagged for the heavy rain, Ocon likely would’ve won the Dutch Grand Prix, as he gambled to be the only driver on extreme wet tires when the heavy rain began.
Next weekend, Formula 1 heads to Monza for the Italian Grand Prix, where Verstappen will have a great shot to break Vettel’s F1 record with a tenth win in succession.