For the third time in a row it's Max Verstappen who takes victory at the Dutch Grand Prix. This time in unbelievably mixed conditions that were similarly mastered by Fernando Alonso as AMR seem to rediscover their pace. Pierra Gasly was over the moon with an unexpected third place for Alpine.
The track was completely dry at the start of the race with Verstappen taking the lead from pole, followed by Norris and Russell. Albon was able to slot into 4th despite ousting his fears about the dirty starting slot off the racing line. Alonso followed up in 5th but then got past Albon and Russell by taking the banked Turn 3 on the inside.
Halfway into the lap a big shower quickly wetted the entire track. Perez, Zhou, Gasly, Leclerc, Tsunoda and Magnussen all pitted immediately while the leaders remained out. They were advised to do so but the next lap most pitted anyway. In those conditions, Alonso pulled off another passing move in Turn 3 and moved up into second place by demoting Norris.
As Perez charged through to take the lead, Verstappen and Alonso got on with it as well. Verstappen got stuck behind Gasly in third for a while with Alonso being stuck for roundabout the same amount of laps behind Leclerc. The latter had gained a number of positions that to the early decision to pit for intermediate tyres.
By lap 7 Perez was still leading, followed by Verstappen at 8 seconds. Zhou was third, then Gasly, Alonso, Leclerc, Sainz, Tsunoda, Magnussen and Ocon. Further back, Albon, Piastri, Bottas, Hulkenberg and Sargeant had opted to stay on the slick tyres and ended up 15th to 20th with only Stroll in between them following a switch to intermediates only in lap 6.
In lap 9 the soft slick runners started to be faster again with Piastri doing S1 in 26.6 while the leaders needed 2 seconds more than that. Piastri went on to set the fastest lap - notably 4s quicker than the leaders - on lap 11, immediately triggering pitstops for Zhou, Alonso, Sainz and pretty much everybody on intermediates behind them.
that meant Perez, Vestappen, Gasly and Leclerc were the only ones remaining on intermediates in lap 12. Not for long though as they all pitted except for Perez. Leclerc during that stop lost some time as he as given a new front wing after incurring damage in a battle with Piastri early on;
Perez was the last to switch back to slicks on lap 12. As he came out of the pits, Verstappen streamed past to take the lead. Alonso was third and only 1.1 seconds behind Perez after the Spaniard enjoyed a well timed pitstop and passed Zhou in Turn 3 right as they exited the pitlane one behind the other.
On lap 15 more rain arrived but it was much less intense that earlier on. It lasted for just 30 seconds and didn't really fully wet the circuit, enabling drivers to keep going. That was also the plan for Logan Sargeant but just like in qualifying he crashed out quite badly. The American Williams driver stepped out just fine at Turn 8 as the safety car as brought out on track to enable marshalls to clear the debris.
As Gasly was given a penalty, Russell pitted for hard tyres and Stroll exchanged his softs for medium Pirellis.
After 4 neutralised laps the race got going again with Verstappen flooring it ahead of the banked final corner. The draft allowed Alonso to have a look on Perez but the Mexican decisively shut the door and left positions unchanged. Albon though managed to gain a position one lap later by passing Magnussen after getting blocked on the straight by the Dane earlier on in a fairly harsh manner. The incident was "noted" by the stewards.
Further behind Leclerc seemed to be in big trouble. Hamilton was the first to pass him for 12th position but the Ferrari driver soon lost another place to Piastri in Turn 3. Leclerc was clearly unable to follow those who passed him while having to look into his mirrors as Hulkenberg, Bottas, Russell, Stroll and Lawson were all bunched up.
Norris and Hamilton on the other hand disappeared in the distance and went on to pass Zhou, positioning both of them in points scoring positions by lap 34. Piastri sort of followed them through, making for a triple pack of cars clearly faster than those around them. Tsunoda was up next but the AlphaTauri proved a lot more difficult to pass.
In front positions remained fixed with Verstappen edging more and more ahead of Perez, a gap that amounted 5.7 seconds by lap 38. Alonso followed at 4 seconds with Gasly and Sainz each another additional 2.5 seconds further back.
On lap 42 Ferrari pitted Sainz to take a fresh set of soft tyres, retuning him to the track in 11th place, down from 5th. Leclerc was also called in the same lap but for the Monegasque it was the end of the race as "the situation was getting worse". Clearly something unusual was up with Leclerc's Ferrari.
Norris pitted one lap later, followed by Ocon. The stop enabled Hamilton to record his own personal best thus far and have a go at Tsunoda himself. The AlphaTauri proved quick nonetheless and as Norris set fastest lap on his fresh tyres, Hamilton was called in another lap later as well. The Mercedes driver switched to medium compound tyres and rejoined the track 5s behind Norris with Bottas now in between them.
Perez, Gasly and Ocon pitted soon in the same laps. Alonso pitted 3 laps later and had a dreadful 8.3 second stop as the Aston Martin crew struggled to get the left front wheel off the car. The Spaniard returned right behind Tsunoda but still ahead of Gasly as the latter had served his 5s penalty during his own stop.
Alonso and Gasly quickly made it past Tsunoda who started to struggle on 39-lap old soft tyres. Alonso went on to set fastest lap at the time and rapidly close in towards Sainz who he'd pass on lap 51 on the straight.
Tsunoda quickly moved backwards and soon lost positions to russell, Albon and Ocon before getting passed by the inseparable duo of Norris and Hamilton. The Japanese AlphaTauri driver was probably continuing on his old tyres until the rain arrived, expected at 10 laps from the end of the race. Aston Martin's and Red Bull's engineers also told their drivers the rain would be even more intense than what they saw at the start of the race.
With Tsunoda out of the way, Hamilton also finally got past Hamilton and quickly went on to move up into 8th position by passing Ocon as well.
Knowing the rain was set to come and a tyre change would be needed anyway it appeared like Alonso was putting the hammer down and trying to get whatever advantage he could get over the Ferrari of Sainz in the last few dry laps. The Spaniard beat Verstappen's earlier fastest lap and increased his advantage to Sainz to 7.5 seconds with 15 laps remaining.
Sainz himself struggled too and got passed by Gasly for 4th one lap later. Hamilton at the same time moved up into 7th place by passing his teammate Russell.
On lap 61 Perez anticipates the rain and pits for intermediates. Sadly for him the tyres weren't ready and the stop took 10 seconds. Everybody from position 5 pitted while Verstappen, Alonso, Albon and Ocon all had to do another lap as rain started to floor the circuit.
Ocon was soon told that rain was going to be "very very heavy" so as the only one on the track he opted for full wets with everybody else on intermediates. Ocon quickly said that as a terrible decision but conditions rapidly worsened, leading to Perez missing Turn 1 and rejoining in third place while handing second place to Alonso.
In lap 64 Zhou crashed out. This triggered a virtual safety car and made Verstappen pit to switch for full wets. Perez followed to do the same but as he was in the pits the race was stopped.
After everybody had been able to reach towards their 10000 daily steps through the paddock, drivers re-fitted their helmets when race control announced a restart at 17:14 local time.
The restart was done with Verstappen ahead, followed by Alonso, Perez, Gasly, Sainz, Hamilton, Norris, Russell, Albon, Piastri, Ocon, Tsunoda, Stroll, Hulkenberg, Bottas, Lawson and Magnussen as the order was restored based on the positions at the end of the last completed lap ahead of the red flag. This meant that some cars were first allowed to leave the pitlane and complete the lap they ran less than the rest, rejoining at the back of the pitlane before the entire queue, starting with Verstappen left the pitlane behind the safety car.
Still, when cars left the pitlane behind the safety car several drivers had to change their positions. Perez for instance had to navigate through more than half of the field to position in third place.
Race control therefore decided the SC to stay on track for 2 laps while intermediate tyres were mandated for the wet track.
The laps behind the safety car showed that conditioned were still very difficult with visibility particularly bad for those in the middle of the pack.
Around 17:19, much to the joy of the Dutch crowd the race was on again for 5 remaining laps. Moments later Perez was given a 5s penalty for speeding in the pitlane. Russell meanwhile moved up a spot in Turn 3 but by the end of that lap reported "I'm out" and returned to the pits to retire his car.
As the top three followed each other closely, Gasly dropped behind and Hamilton really put the pressure on Sainz for 5th place. Hamilton was literally glued to the Ferrari throughout the entire lap but without DRS had trouble to make it past the Spaniard. It proved insufficient and also not enough to exploit Perez' penalty as Sainz simply lost too much ground to the cars ahead.
The race was soon over with Verstappen winning the Dutch Grand Prix for the third consecutive time. Alonso finished second with Gasly completing the podium after adding the 5s penalty to Sergio Perez's finishing time.
|1||1||Max Verstappen||Red Bull Racing Honda Rbpt||72||2:24:04.411||25|
|2||14||Fernando Alonso||Aston Martin Aramco Mercedes||72||+3.744s||19|
|3||10||Pierre Gasly||Alpine Renault||72||+7.058s||15|
|4||11||Sergio Perez||Red Bull Racing Honda Rbpt||72||+10.068s||12|
|7||4||Lando Norris||Mclaren Mercedes||72||+13.232s||6|
|8||23||Alexander Albon||Williams Mercedes||72||+15.155s||4|
|9||81||Oscar Piastri||Mclaren Mercedes||72||+16.580s||2|
|10||31||Esteban Ocon||Alpine Renault||72||+18.346s||1|
|11||18||Lance Stroll||Aston Martin Aramco Mercedes||72||+20.087s||0|
|12||27||Nico Hulkenberg||Haas Ferrari||72||+20.840s||0|
|13||40||Liam Lawson||Alphatauri Honda Rbpt||72||+26.147s||0|
|14||20||Kevin Magnussen||Haas Ferrari||72||+26.410s||0|
|15||77||Valtteri Bottas||Alfa Romeo Ferrari||72||+27.388s||0|
|16||22||Yuki Tsunoda||Alphatauri Honda Rbpt||72||+29.893s||0|
|NC||24||Zhou Guanyu||Alfa Romeo Ferrari||62||DNF||0|
|NC||2||Logan Sargeant||Williams Mercedes||14||DNF||0|