Max Verstappen converted pole position into victory at the 2023 Formula 1 Dutch Grand Prix for the third year in a row, navigating an action-packed, rain-hit encounter to take the chequered flag ahead of Fernando Alonso and Pierre Gasly and draw level with Sebastian Vettel on nine successive F1 wins.
Click here to subscribe to our print edition!
It all began with spits of rain before the start of the race that dramatically turned into a shower on the first lap, prompting split strategies up and down the order as Verstappen headed a pack of drivers who initially stayed out on slicks and teammate Perez led a group into the pits to take on intermediates.
What followed was a frenetic opening phase as those who made an early switch to intermediates rose to the fore, while those who stayed out longer on slicks lost a hatful of positions prior to the rain easing off and the track gradually drying up.
With the Red Bulls running those aforementioned alternate strategies, it was Perez who led the way as the race settled down, while Verstappen had fallen back to fourth – behind Zhou Guanyu and Gasly – and had work to do to reclaim P1.
After managing to do so with a much superior pace, Verstappen looked set for a clear run to the chequered flag and the win on a bone-dry track, only for further rain to work its way onto the radar and hit the track with force in the closing stages.
That led to another flurry of pit lane activity and a red flag after Zhou crashed out, bringing a seven-lap dash to the flag when the action resumed and serving up one last test for reigning double-world champion Verstappen to overcome.
Overcome it, Verstappen did as he kept his cool at the slippery restart and managed the gap back to Alonso and Perez with aplomb, confirming his hard-fought triumph and equalling Vettel’s victory record that has stood since the 2013 season.
Alonso’s second-place finish marked his first podium since Canada more than two months ago, while Perez crossed the line in third but was hit with a five-second time penalty for speeding in the pit lane, promoting a delighted Gasly to the rostrum.
Perez had to settle for fourth after his sanction, followed by the Ferrari of Carlos Sainz and Mercedes of Lewis Hamilton, who were involved in a late, wheel-banging scrap, as Lando Norris, Alex Albon, Oscar Piastri and Esteban Ocon completed the points.
Lance Stroll just missed out on a top-10 finish in the other Aston Martin, followed by Nico Hulkenberg, F1 newcomer Liam Lawson and Kevin Magnussen – the AlphaTauri driver given a 10-second penalty for impeding the Dane in the pit lane.
That moment aside, it was a strong debut performance for the 21-year-old New Zealander, who otherwise stayed out of trouble and kept his car on the track, finishing three spots up on teammate Yuki Tsunoda, who took a five-second penalty of his own for causing a collision with George Russell.
Valtteri Bottas was the only Alfa Romeo to finish after Zhou’s crash, taking 15th from Tsunoda and Russell, the latter losing what would have been a points finish after contact with Norris during the final dash to the flag.
Joining Zhou on the sidelines were Charles Leclerc, due to damage picked up on the first lap that ultimately proved too challenging to race on with, and Logan Sargeant, who followed up his qualifying crash with another heavy shunt.
Mario Isola, Motorsport Director, Pirelli:
It was a very spectacular race, with several changes in the weather, which made life difficult for the teams when it came to deciding on which tyre to use and when to pit. From a purely technical point of view, apart from the literally colourful sight of having all five of our tyre colours being used, two aspects are worth highlighting. As expected over the course of the weekend, the cooler temperatures favoured the use of the Softs, clearly the best tyre in the dry, even coping well in wet conditions, as demonstrated by the drivers who chose not to pit in the opening laps when it started to rain. The compound most affected was the Hard, but the long stint from Russell, who would probably have run to the chequered flag if the rain had not returned, demonstrated that this tyre was not totally unsuited to the conditions. The second point to underline concerns the Intermediate, which once again proved to be competitive with either a little or a lot of water on the track.
Finally, there are various people I wish to congratulate: Max Verstappen for his ninth consecutive win, the Zandvoort spectators who once again put on an amazing show in the grandstands, their enthusiasm so contagious despite the bad weather, Fernando Alonso back on the podium, as he had been doing regularly at the start of the season, at one point even looking to challenge for the win and to Pierre Gasly who produced a really great result.
How the race was won from the tyre point of view:
The rain was the main factor that affected the outcome of the race. Everyone started on dry tyres, Hamilton on the Medium, with everyone else on the Soft. But right from the opening lap the rain appeared, forcing almost the entire field to pit for Intermediates. However, some brave drivers – the Williams duo, Hulkenberg, Bottas and Piastri – opted to stay out, banking on the rain not lasting long. Indeed, after about ten laps, the track was again suitable for slicks so that in the space of 12 laps everyone was back on dry tyres. In these very cool conditions, the Soft was clearly the best compound and was used for as long as possible, as can be seen from the fact that Tsunoda did 50 laps with one set and Albon 44.
Only one driver, Russell, opted for the Hard tyre, finding himself down the back end of the pack after the Safety Car came out following Sargeant going off track. The Mercedes driver would probably have finished the race on that set of C1s if the rain had not decided to shake things once again, falling even more heavily than at the start of the race. Once again, all the drivers began to pit, and with the rain really coming down, some even opted to fit the extreme wet, Ocon being the first to do this, followed by the two Red Bull drivers. The race was red-flagged after Zhou went off, so the question of how these tyres would have performed in these conditions went unanswered. In the closing stages after the restart, the intermediate proved it was a valid choice even with a lot of water on a track with a temperature of only 20° C.
Next weekend, Monza hosts the Formula 1 Pirelli Gran Premio d’Italia 2023. Tyres for the Italian round, from 1 to 3 September, will be the C3, C4 and C5 compound, and for a second time after it was first tried in Hungary, the Alternative Tyre Allocation will be applied. Pirelli is the Italian Grand Prix title sponsor, its home race, as its headquarters are just a few kilometres from the circuit in the Bicocca district of Milan.
2023 Formula 1 Dutch Grand Prix Race Results
|1.||1||Max Verstappen||Netherlands||Red Bull Racing||2:24:04.411||25||339|
|2.||14||Fernando Alonso||Spain||Aston Martin F1 Team||+3.744s||19||168|
|3.||10||Pierre Gasly||France||Alpine F1 Team||+7.058s||15||37|
|4.||11||Sergio Perez||Mexico||Red Bull Racing||+10.068s||12||201|
|5.||55||Carlos Sainz||Spain||Scuderia Ferrari||+12.541s||10||102|
|6.||44||Lewis Hamilton||Great Britain||Mercedes-AMG Petronas||+13.209s||8||156|
|7.||4||Lando Norris||Great Britain||Mclaren Racing||+13.232s||6||75|
|8.||45||Alexander Albon||Thailand||Williams Racing||+15.155s||4||15|
|9.||81||Oscar Piastri||Australia||McLaren Racing||+16.580s||2||34|
|10.||31||Esteban Ocon||France||Alpine F1 Team||+18.346s||1||36|
|11.||18||Lance Stroll||Canada||Aston Martin F1 Team||+20.087s||0||47|
|12.||27||Nico Hulkenberg||Germany||Haas F1 Team||+20.840s||0||9|
|13.||40||Liam Lawson||New Zealand||Scuderia AlphaTauri||+26.147s||0||0|
|14.||20||Kevin Magnussen||Denmark||Haas F1 Team||+26.410s||0||2|
|15.||77||Valtteri Bottas||Finland||Alfa Romeo F1 Team||+27.388s||0||5|
|16.||22||Yuki Tsunoda||Japan||Scuderia AlphaTauri||+29.893s||0||3|
|17.||63||George Russell||Great Britain||Mercedes-AMG Petronas||+55.754s||0||99|
|18.||24||Zhou Guanyu||China||Alfa Romeo F1 Team||DNF||0||4|
|19.||16||Charles Leclerc||Monaco||Scuderia Ferrari||DNF||0||99|
|20.||2||Logan Sargeant||USA||Williams Racing||DNF||0||0|
2023 Constructor Standings
|1.||Red Bull Racing||623|
|2.||Mercedes-AMG F1 Team||305|
|4.||Aston Martin F1 Team||221|
|6.||Alpine F1 Team||84|
|7.||Haas F1 Team||12|
|8.||Alfa Romeo Racing||10|