The Sea of Orange and Verstappen Win again!
After a month-long summer break, Formula 1 returned to action in the Netherlands for the Dutch Grand Prix. As expected, the crowd was a massive sea of orange at the entertaining circuit of Zandvoort, welcoming F1 and, of course, their favorite Dutch driver, Max Verstappen, with passion and intensity. Verstappen leads the championship in his Red Bull while the rest of the field struggles to keep up. Verstappen won last year and was the hands-on favorite to win again in 2023. The rest of the field perhaps cannot compete with Verstappen, but they surely could battle among themselves for a podium or points.
In any case, the Dutch Grand Prix proved to be yet another unpredictable entering race due to flashes of rain. Despite all the adversity, the sea of orange had plenty to sing about because Max Verstappen claimed his ninth straight win, his third in the Netherlands, and gave Red Bull their 13th straight victory. Verstappens’ ninth victory ties him with Sebastien Vettel, who also accomplished the feat in 2013 with Red Bull. It has been a record-breaking season for Red Bull and Verstappen, and no one has a chance of stopping them. Let’s look deeper at what transpired at the 2023 Dutch Grand Prix.
As expected, Verstappen claimed his 8th pole position of the season with a masterful drive in the waning minutes of Q3 on an ever-changing track surface that went from wet to dry throughout qualifying. The biggest surprise of the day was the performances by Williams and their drivers. Alexander Albon continues to raise his stock as he qualified in fourth place, forced out of third by Mercedes George Russel. Albons teammate Logan Sargeant also made Q3 for the first time this season and in his rookie season in F1. Sargeant qualified in the tenth and was also responsible for the first 43d flag of the day in Q3 after he spun out, crashing into the barriers. Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc shared the same fate as Sargeant, triggering the second red flag of the session with 4 minutes left of Q3. Mclaren continues to show significant improvements, qualifying with Lando Norris in second place and Oscar Piastri in fifth. Verstappen is poised to give his loyal fan base plenty to cheer about at Zandvoort, but could the rest of the field play spoiler or at the least put on an entertaining show for the final two podium positions? As per usual, on race day, I could provide those answers.
Menacing clouds hung over the Zandvoort and The Dutch Grand Prix on Sunday, with rain forecasted to fall twenty minutes into the race. While the clouds overhead deserved attention, the race on the track started with Verstappen taking off clean and retaining his first-place head into turn on2. Alonso, like usual, made some incredible moves, catching drivers off guard, taking him from P5 to P3 to the pleasure of racing fans around the world. The rain came much sooner than expected, and it came down with a fury, eventually leading to a slew of pit stops to get the proper tire selections to deal with the wet circuit. By the time Lap 4 was done, so had the rain, but the track surface was still soaked until Lap 10, where teams dived into the pits to opt for soft tires to manage the drying track surface.
Verstappen, who lost the race’s lead during the whole slew of pits, managed to regain 1st place quickly ahead of his teammate Perez. On Lap 17, the first Safety Car was needed on track after Williams’ Logan Sargeant slid into a wall, ending one of the most promising races of his rookie season. Verstappen cruised the entire race in first, never feeling any real pressure from the rest of the drivers on the track. On Lap 61, heavy rain returned, which forced Alfa Romeo’s Zhang Zhou into a barrier, triggering a Virtual Safety Car. Other drivers struggled to stay on track, and the race was red-flagged on Lap 64. The stewards ruled that the race would have a running start once conditions cleared in the sky.
The restart of the race was drama-free, and Verstappen marched forward to easily claim his ninth win of the season. Aston Martin and Alonso were pleased with a second-place finish, and Alpine’s Pierre Gasly finished in third, capitalizing on a five-second penalty handed to Perez for speeding in the pit lane. Perez finished in 4th, followed by Carlos Sainz and his Ferrari in 5th. Lewis Hamilton, who had a dismal race, finished in 6th for Mercedes, followed by Lando Norris and His Mclaren in 7th.
Williams, who had a great weekend, could be proud of yet another stellar performance by Albon in 8th place. Mclaren’s Oscar Piastri in 9th and Alpine’s Esteban Ocon in 10th grabbed the final two spots in the points.
Up next, Formula 1 will be traveling to Monza for the Italian Grand where the infamous Autodromo Nazionale Monza once again Red Bull remains a heavy favorite.
|1||MAX VERSTAPPEN||NETHERLANDS||RED BULL|
|2||FERNANDO ALONSO||SPAIN||ASTON MARTIN||1:13.837|
|4||SERGIO PEREZ||MEXICO||RED BULL|
|5||CARLOS SAINZ JR||SPAIN||FERRARI|
|11||LANCE STROLL||CANADA||ASTON MARTIN|
|13||LIAM LAWSON||NEW ZEALAND||ALPHA TAURI|
|14||VALTERRI BOTTAS||FINLAND||ALFA ROMEO|
|15||YUKI TSUNODA||JAPAN||ALPHA TAURI|
|RETIRED||GEORGE RUSSEL- LAP 72||BRITAIN||MERCEDES|
|RETIRED||ZHOU GUANYU-LAP 62||CHINA||ALFA ROMEO|
|RETIRED||CHARLES LECLERC- LAP 41||MONACO||FERRARI|
|RETIRED||LOGAN SARGEANT-LAP 14||UNITED STATES||WILLIAMS|