Max Verstappen wins the Dutch Grand Prix turned upside down by heavy downpours. Fernando Alonso and Pierre Gasly complete the podium.
F1 made its return this weekend to the circuit of Zandvoort, after the summer break. If Max Verstappen got the pole yesterday, at the end of very tight qualifying, Lando Norris and McLaren confirmed their status as the second force on the grid. The nice surprise also comes from Williams and Alex Albon who starts in 4th position.
The rain turned everything upside down
When the lights went out, Max Verstappen easily retained his lead. The start is rather calm, nobody wants to take too many risks. Barely a few seconds after the first laps, the rain fell on the circuit.
Starting out on slicks, some are reacting, like the front row, and are already stopping to put on intermediate tyres. The hierarchy is turned upside down , Sergio Pérez takes the lead. Several showers are expected, the strategy will revolve around pit stops as the drivers have to manage their tires during the sunny spells. One after the other, the whole grid goes in again to put on slick tyres.
Charles Leclerc, who slipped, hangs with Oscar Piastri. This slight incident cost him quite a bit of time since the Monegasque had to return to change his front wing. Meanwhile the Australian continues to rise in the standings.
Safety Car after the Sargeant crash
Pierre Gasly receives a penalty for speeding in the pit lane. A few minutes later, on lap 17, Logan Sargeant lost control and crashed into the wall. Author of a good performance in qualifying yesterday, when he had reached Q3 for the first time in his young career, the Williams driver then experienced a real nightmare by spitting his car at the end of the session.
With this new accident, fate seems to be on the rookie. The race is neutralized under safety car. As the safety car fades away, Verstappen chooses to restart immediately. Alonso and Pérez are neck and neck.
This is also the case for Gasly and Sainz. The race falls into a false rhythm and the movements in the race are becoming more and more rare. Max Verstappen is racing alone, more than three seconds ahead of his teammate and closest competitor, Sergio Pérez. The world champion chained the best times on the track.
At the halfway point, a great battle is played out between Yuki Tsunoda and Lando Norris for eighth place. The British driver is less than a second behind the Alfa Tauri driver and does not let go of him but Tsunoda hangs on.
Leclerc’s third retirement this season
Meanwhile, Charles Leclerc sits in 15th place and is set to be overtaken by Daniel Ricciardo’s replacement, Liam Lawson. The Scuderia driver has not been able to climb back since his wing change. And Ferrari? The hypothesis of a mechanical problem is the most probable. It ended on lap 43, when Leclerc retired, Ferrari announced damage on the floor.
From the 50th lap, a new round of stops begins. Fernando Alonso, a time second, makes a stop in more than eight seconds. He comes out behind Sainz and Tsunoda and loses the podium. Despite this missed pit stop, his tires are working well and it only takes him a few minutes to regain third place.
At the same time, the clouds are becoming darker and more consistent. Some riders, lacking rhythm because of their worn rubbers, wait to return hoping for the rain which should fall violently.
As expected, a deluge hit Zandvoort just over ten laps from the finish. It’s a rush in the pits , everyone comes to put on rain tires as soon as possible. Even with intermediate tires, single-seaters slip. Will they have to opt for maxi wet rubbers? This is the choice made by Esteban Ocon. The rain continues to intensify. The track is wet. Pérez misses in the first corner and is overtaken by Alonso who recovers second place.
Red flag after Zhou goes off track
Guanyu Zhou’s Alfa Romeo also ends up in the wall. While Verstappen was in the pits to put on full wets, the race was stopped under a red flag.
On the restart, Pierre Gasly started in fourth position and could still believe in his first podium of the season. At the end of the safety car Fernando Alonso hunts Max Verstappen. Sergio Pérez receives a five-second penalty. The podium reaches out to Pierre Gasly .
The French driver was required to maintain a gap of less than five seconds with Pérez. At the same time, George Russell left the track and returned to the pits to retire. The misfortune of some is the happiness of others: Esteban Ocon enters the points.
Three times pole man, three times victorious, Verstappen won at home ahead of Fernando Alonso, second. Pierre Gasly stands on the podium of a Grand Prix for the fourth time in his F1 career.
— Formula 1 (@F1) August 26, 2023