The Formula 1 Dutch Grand Prix was awash with fans in orange who all came to see their hero, Max Verstappen, win his third home race and his 9th win in a row equalling the record. They were awarded with just that as Max took his Red Bull Racing car to the top step with Fernando Alonso and Pierre Gasly in tow to complete the podium.
The race was a very tricky affair starting on dry asphalt but just as the lights went out, the rain began falling. By lap 3, all the drivers started boxing but a few waited too late, Mercedes chief among them, hoping it would be lighter rain and relatively isolated to the final few corners.
A handful stayed out, Alex Alton included, dropped several places but as the track dried and the Inter-shod cars boxed for slicks, they came back up through the field and in contention.
The dry race resumed but then rain came again prompting a second stop for Intermediates and then a third stop for Full Wet tires for some but Zho Guanyu went off track into the barrier causing a red flag.
In the end, the race turned into a 6-lap shoot out with Max taking the win from Alonso and Gasly who had recovered from a 5s penalty in his Alpine to take advantage of Sergio Perez’s 5s penalty and claim the podium in 3rd.
A big win for red Bull and Max Verstappen who equalled Sebastian Vettel’s 9-wins-in-a-row record. Max and the team made the right call to bring him in ahead of teammate Sergio for the undercut which got Max out front where he remained for the rest of the race. A sublime performance.
A win for Fernando Alonso and Aston Martin who brought some upgrades (that may have worked) and managed to stay competitive and in the hunt for the podium all day. A spirited drive in the changing conditions launched Fernando up the order and he took advantage of Red Bull’s error in strategy by boxing Perez just before a red flag came out. The team were going to box Alonso at the same time as Perez but Fernando declined and that simple call was the difference between third or fourth, and nabbing second. A head’s up move from the veteran who got his first podium since the Canadian GP.
A big win for Pierre Gasly and Alpine who both needed a good result after a sluggish season so far and the recent culling of the herd. Pierre had a 5s penalty that he overcame and a good strategy, as well as very good pace in tricky conditions, to take advantage of Perez’s misfortune and claim 3rd place.
It was a tough weekend for Ferrari but Carlos Sainz managed to hold off a very quick Lewis Hamilton for 5th and that’s a win despite the troubles Ferrari had.
A win for Lewis Hamilton as he was thwarted during qualifying by Tsunoda and again by the team’s mistake during the opening laps of the race, He came back through the field and claim 6th place. It’s not where he wanted to be and he felt he had more pace than that but he had the cards stacked against him and still came out of the race with a good hand. I agree, I had Lewis in P2 or P3 for this race and I think he could have been there with George.
A win for Alex Albon, who was my driver of the weekend, as he gambled staying out on softs during the first rain and managed to continually climb his way back into the top 10 for good points. They missed the timing to take Inters but they made the most of it. He was targeting P6 but a second stop, perhaps a lap too late, left him in P8 but that is still a great result. Both the team and Alex in particular, are punching well above their weight
It’s a sort of win for McLaren despite the missed strategy calls as both drivers finished in the points but as you’ll see below, it was also a fail.
A Win for Liam Lawson who sat in for Daniel Ricciardo at Alpha Tauri and bested his teammate, Yuki Tsunoda with a very respectable P13 for a rookie who had no time to prepare. Sure, Yuki had some car issues, wrong strategy calls but still, Liam was running there or thereabouts and that’s a great result. Damon Hill said his job was to just learn but I think Liam wanted to shine and he did just that.
A fail for Mercedes who missed the strategy call and this left a lot of work for both Lewis and George Russell to do. Both did the hard work in getting back up into he points but George suffered a puncture late in the race and a DNF. Lewis may have been a podium contender for sure had they gotten the strategy correct. To be fair to the team, it was a very complicated race from a strategy perspective. It’s a shame because I think Mercedes had a seriously quick car here.
A fail for McLaren who had Lando Norris in second at the start of the race but missed the strategy calls and got caught in the DRS train mid-race. For me, Lando is a bit like a fire and forget weapon and if you have the laser on the target, he’s going to strike but if you get it slightly off, it’s hard to recover given the car’s weak points. Despite that, a good recovery drive from both Lando and teammate, Oscar Piastri.
A fail for Red Bull and Sergio Perez. Red Bull made the absolute right call with Sergio on the first lap to box for Inters and this gave him the lead of the race. I understand why they made the call to box Max first for the undercut as well although Sky Sports seemed flummoxed by the move. I also understand the reason Max was taking chunks of time out of Sergio’s lead as the Mexican was conserving the Inters. Where it fell apart was the spin late in the race from Sergio losing 2nd to Alonso and then the box right at the red flag.
A fail for Ferrari and Charles Leclerc for the crash on Saturday and then a tough Sunday with floor damage and a DNF. The car just wan’t fast enough on this track and let’s hope that Monza’s low downforce config suits them better. Also, Saturday seemed like another unforced error from Charles.
I’ll need to go back and look at Haas F1’s strategy calls because there was a moment when they made the right call that put Kevin Magnussen into the top 10 but they lost ground and Nico Hulkenberg ended up ahead of Kevin in P12 with the Dane in P14. At the time of writing this, I’m not sure what happened.
There are two elements on the grid that I am curious about what the teams will do. The first is Lance Stroll who is seriously missing out on points for Aston Martin and Sergio Perez who isn’t finishing where the team need him to finish which is right behind Max.
Pirelli view of the Race:
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 once again shake things up, 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 as to 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.
Dutch GP Results:
|1||1||RED BULL RACING HONDA RBPT||72||2:24:04.411||25|
|2||14||ASTON MARTIN ARAMCO MERCEDES||72||+3.744s||19|
|4||11||RED BULL RACING HONDA RBPT||72||+10.068s||12|
|11||18||ASTON MARTIN ARAMCO MERCEDES||72||+20.087s||0|
|13||40||ALPHATAURI HONDA RBPT||72||+26.147s||0|
|15||77||ALFA ROMEO FERRARI||72||+27.388s||0|
|16||22||ALPHATAURI HONDA RBPT||72||+29.893s||0|
|NC||24||ALFA ROMEO FERRARI||62||DNF||0|