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Dutch Grand Prix 2023

Verstappen an F1 great as Mercedes drop the ball - What we learned at the Dutch GP

What did we learn from a chaotic Dutch GP weekend at Zandvoort?

Verstappen Zandvoort podium
Article
To news overview © XPBimages

Max Verstappen equalled the F1 record for most consecutive wins with victory in a chaotic Dutch Grand Prix to take another step towards a third world title.

The Red Bull driver finished ahead of Fernando Alonso and Pierre Gasly in a rain and red flag-hit race to stretch his championship lead over teammate Sergio Perez to 138 points.

But what did we learn from a dramatic Zandvoort event?

Verstappen unstoppable

Verstappen's dominance in F1 this season has been such that rivals have been awaiting a crazy, chaotic event to capitalise.

But with two separate rain showers, a late race safety car and a strategic matrix facing the Dutchman and his Red Bull team, they never missed a beat as every challenge thrown at the two-time champion.

A record ninth win in a row and another step towards his third title came in front of a jubilant home crowd and led to Red Bull Motorsport Advisor Helmut Marko to label Verstappen as one of F1's all-time greats... and who can argue?

Result Race - Dutch

# Driver Team Time Tyre
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Mercedes drop the ball

Mercedes started third and 13th with George Russell and Lewis Hamilton and ultimately fumbled a podium opportunity for both cars.

Whilst Russell staying out for the second lap when rain began to fall perhaps made some sense being as he was at the head of the field, Hamilton was in prime position to take a gamble despite starting on the Medium tyres.

Sergio Perez was only six positions ahead of the Briton on the grid and ended up leading at the start of lap three.

Yet the Silver Arrows failed to react, instead holding out for an end to the rain, which wouldn't come for some 10 minutes. By the time a switch to Intermediates came for both drivers, it was far too late and the duo were consigned to the bottom half of the field.

It has to be noted that the rest of the race saw strategy and pace help both advance through the field and had it not been for a late puncture for Russell - who made contact with McLaren's Lando Norris - a double points finish would have been achieved.

Much to learn from for Mercedes ahead of the Italian Grand Prix.

			© RN365/Michael Potts
	© RN365/Michael Potts

Ferrari face chastening homecoming

If there is one team you wouldn't want to be a part of entering the Monza weekend on current form, it would be Ferrari.

The Italian national press and the Tifosi can be tough to appease at the best of times, let alone coming off the back of an event where Carlos Sainz has suggested the SF-23 was in the bottom half of the pecking order.

This is all from the birth of a car under F1's newest technical era that had raced into a championship lead last season, with the Scuderia spiralling downwards ever since.

Charles Leclerc's miserable afternoon at Zandvoort was down to damage sustained on lap one but his retirement came only after yet another embarrassing mix-up at a pit stop that left everyone thinking 'not again'.

There is not an F1 fan that wouldn't want a Ferrari driver on the podium at Monza. But that looks a far cry off the back of the Dutch weekend, even if pre-summer break form provided optimism.

			© XPBimages
	© XPBimages

Alpine find welcome pressure relief

Alpine endured a turbulent build-up to the summer break with a raft of management changes that included the departure of Team Principal Otmar Szafnauer and long-serving Sporting Director Alan Permane being announced mid-Belgian Grand Prix weekend.

It was unneeded negative PR for Alpine after a troubled start to the season, with public criticisms from former CEO Laurent Rossi and a number of issues on track only slightly softened by Esteban Ocon's podium in Monaco.

Qualifying struggles at Zandvoort saw neither driver make Q3 but a perfect race execution from the strategy team and a near-flawless driver from Pierre Gasly - who overcame a five-second penalty early on - allowed him to capitalise on a late penalty for Perez and collect a podium.

The next question for the French manufacturer is whether it can kick on from the performance. At least it has given all involved a welcome boost.

			© RN365/Michael Potts
	© RN365/Michael Potts

Williams take major step forward

The story of the weekend may well have been Williams - the team achieving a double top 10 in qualifying and an eighth with Alex Albon in the race.

Logan Sargeant was unlucky to crash in Q3 when hitting a damp patch on a drying track, whilst his race-ending incident was in no-part down to him but rather a Williams hydraulic failure.

Albon fought back through the field after the team followed a similar error to Mercedes when the rain fell early on but the fact the team and driver are disappointed with its eventual finishing position shows just how much Team Principal James Vowles and the Thai-Briton have galvanised a misfiring outfit.

The future is bright at Grove.

F1 2023 Dutch Grand Prix RN365 News dossier

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