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Dutch Grand Prix 2023

Winners and Losers from the 2023 F1 Dutch Grand Prix

It was a chaotic race at Zandvoort which ended with a record being equalled, bruised egos and a performance that excelled given the circumstances.

Verstappen Zandvoort podium
To news overview © XPBimages

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On the very first racing lap of Formula 1's return at the Dutch Grand Prix, all hell broke loose with a sudden downpour hitting the track.

It led to some making pitstops, others trying to brave it and and eventually conceding defeat. It made some drivers races but for others ruined any chance of a decent result.

We begin our round-up of Winners and Losers from the 2023 Dutch Grand Prix with the soon-to-be three-time World Champion.

Winner - Max Verstappen

For Max Verstappen not to win the 2023 Drivers' championship would now quite simply be the greatest collapse in the history of any sport by any athlete or team.

Such late collapses are often known as 'doing a Devon Loch' after the horse, owned by Queen Elizabeth, The Queen Mother, who fell within sight of the finishing post of the 1956 Grand National.

Should Verstappen not take his third title from this position of extraordinary strength, such failures would be known as 'doing a Max Verstappen.'

No matter what Mother Nature or fellow drivers can throw at the Red Bull driver, he comes up smelling of tulips and usually soaked in champagne.

In the early stages after he pitted for Intermediates, he was about 14 seconds behind leader and teammate Sergio Perez.

With the same car, same tyres and same track conditions, Verstappen, at times, took nearly FOUR seconds a lap out of Perez. What else is there to actually say?

Even if the RB19 picked up some damage in the remaining nine races of the season, you wouldn't put it past him to still find a way to win.

The question now is whether he can win all nine of those remaining races and thus smash the record he equalled of Sebastian Vettel's nine straight wins.

It would be 18 wins on the trot for Verstappen if he does do it - and to be frank, no-one is going to get close to stop him.

Max Verstappen in the 2023 Formula 1 season is going to go down as one of the greatest sporting seasons.

What did Verstappen say?

"The pressure is on to perform and of course, I am very happy with the win here. It is incredible, it wasn't easy for us with the weather to make the right calls all the time, but I am incredibly proud."

			© Red Bull Content Pool
	© Red Bull Content Pool

Loser - Mercedes

During the title-winning years, Mercedes was a well-oiled machine who, when on a roll, was unstoppable, much the same as Verstappen is now.

It was a smooth, slick operation where with operations the best in the pit-lane, bar the occasional blunder every team is allowed every so often.

But as the sharpness of the car has taken a nosedive, the execution from the team also isn't what it once was.

This is a team full of racers, and so the idea that they were unable to predict the weather forecast seems a bit odd.

Rule 101 of racing in wet conditions is 'be on the right tyres at the right time'.

What you lose by making that extra pitstop you can gain back by being on the wet rubber and vice versa.

George Russell explained the expected the rain to last for a couple of minutes and not the 10 it did.

Fair enough, they are far from the first racing team to be caught out by the weather and won't be the last, but to commit to staying out with both Russell and Lewis Hamilton (who was the sole driver to start on Mediums) was strange.

Cover your bases and then at least one car could have been in contention for the podium Russell felt he was on course for pre-race while Hamilton took sixth in the end.

It is one step forward, two steps back for Mercedes which feels like a team just unable to get all its ducks in sync. It is close, but at this level of elite sport, close is not quite good enough.

What did Toto Wolff say?

"We will review thoroughly and the situation is never [the fault] of one person or one department. It is the communication between the drivers, the pit-wall, strategy and all of us taking decisions.

"That was absolutely subpar from all of us, and that includes me. It is good when it hurts, and when it stings, it sticks."

			© RN365/Michael Potts
	© RN365/Michael Potts

Winner - Fernando Alonso

Chaotic race, red flags, wet weather? If you ever wanted a recipe for Fernando Alonso to pop up and grab a strong result, this was it.

Canny as ever, Alonso sent the Aston Martin up the inside of the banked Turn 3 on the opening lap to run third behind Verstappen and Lando Norris.

When the deluge came, he casually passed the McLaren on slicks through the sweepers in Sector 1.

He then bided his time, keeping things ticking over and was in striking distance of Perez throughout, also overcoming a slow pit-stop.

The Spaniard now has seven podiums this season - which is more than double the number he got between 2014 and 2022.

He also picked up the first fastest lap of his career since the 2017 Italian Grand Prix and can still harbour hopes of finishing second in the standings.

Aston Martin has its mojo back after a difficult few races before the summer break, and a revved up Alonso is always an enticing watch.

What did Alonso say?

“I did think about trying a move at the last restart but then I thought maybe I couldn’t exit the circuit. So I stayed calm in second."

			© XPBimages
	© XPBimages

Loser - Charles Leclerc

At no point during the entire weekend did Charles Leclerc show any pace that made it seem a podium was possible.

It was a scrappy weekend for the Monegasque who admitted that it was his call to pit on the opening lap coming off the final corner and that he did expect to lose a bit of time while Ferrari got organised.

During the race, contact caused floor damage and it cost him a huge 60 points of downforce.

It was therefore just a matter of time before he retired, with Ferrari duly putting him out of his misery on Lap 41.

What did Leclerc say?

"I think initially it was five to 10 points [of downforce we were missing] but then we realised that it was more than 60.

"That is a different category, so after that first lap, it was all uphill."

			© XPBimages
	© XPBimages

Winner - Liam Lawson

Put yourself in the following situation.

You get a call-up to make your debut having missed two-thirds of practice, in a car you've never driven at a tough track.

Then, seconds into your first start, the rain comes down forcing you into a first live pitstop, then you must survive the awful conditions.

A red flag is then flown forcing you into a mini-sprint to the flag. Oh, and you've also copped a 10 second time penalty.

That was Liam Lawson's weekend - and the Kiwi made a very good account of himself.

In the end, he came home 13th, just eight seconds away from a debut point, and ahead of teammate Yuki Tsunoda, although the Japanese racer did finish ahead on the road before a five-second penalty was applied for colliding with Russell.

All in all, this was a free hit for Lawson with the next race at Monza much fairer to judge him on, but for a first attempt with everything he had to face, this was a very strong debut, one that he described as "sketchy."

What did Lawson say?

“It was a little bit sketchy. Rolling up to the grid, it started raining. It definitely wasn't the best feeling. But throughout the race, I was obviously learning a huge amount."

			© Red Bull Content Pool
	© Red Bull Content Pool

Loser - McLaren

What started with so much promise for Norris and McLaren ended with the dreams of what could have been.

Given the MCL60 can get heat into the tyres quickly, the rainy conditions were ideal for McLaren, if only it could have followed wet weather racing rule 101.

The team elected to tough it on out slicks and Norris slipped back down the order as others vaulted up thanks to being on the right tyre at the right time.

It is something the British driver picked up upon, believing the team must get better operationally.

Seventh place was his reward, but from second on the grid, that is far from what both driver and team would have been expecting.

What did Norris say?

It's clear we made the wrong decision. We made a bad decision and it's something we'll review and discuss because I guess we have made a couple this season.

"We've lost too many positions and also the points throughout this year with a couple of these things.

F1 2023 Dutch Grand Prix RN365 News dossier

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