Analysis: Things we learned from the Dutch Grand Prix

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Formula One returned from its traditional summer break with a spectacular Dutch Grand Prix thanks to the weather that made sure the Zandvoort race was a breathless affair from start to finish. F1Technical’s senior writer Balázs Szabó analyses the 33rd Dutch Grand Prix.

Driver of the day – After some difficult races in July, Fernando Alonso displayed a much encouraging form at Zandvoort, finishing second just 3.7s behind race winner Max Verstappen. The two-time world champion was voted as the Driver of the Day, having received 20.9 per cent of the votes, beating Alexander Albon (14 per cent), Max Verstappen (10.9 per cent) and Pierre Gasly (9.1 per cent).

Pit lane - Red Bull were not only the fastest team on track, but they displayed the most convincing performance in the pit lane as well. The Milton Keynes-based outfit recorded the fastest pit stop, changing the tyres on Max Verstappen’s car in just 2.01s.

McLaren completed the second fastest pit stops, servicing both Oscar Piastri and Lando Norris in just 2.27s. Interestinly, neither Ferrari or Mercedes managed to get themselves inside the top ten on the chart of the pit stops.

Pit stops - Despite pitting five times, Max Verstappen won the Dutch Grand Prix on home soil in commanding fashion. While many think that this might be a record, the Dutchman himself has already won an F1 race with five pit stops.

At the 2019 German Grand Prix, the rain wreaked havoc at the Hockenheimring as teams desperately changed strategies. With the track drying up after the start and further sudden downpours in the later phases of the race, drivers were forced to change onto slick, wet or intermediate tyres. In the end, Verstappen came out victorious while conducting five pit stops.

However, this is not the absolute record as Jenson Button completed six pit stops at the 2011 Canadian Grand Prix en route to a sensational victory. The Briton had a difficult start to his race, making contact with his team-mate Lewis Hamilton and then Ferrari driver Fernando Alonso and falling back to the last position. He then made his way up through the field and overtook Sebastian Vettel on the last tour of the Montreal race. The 2009 F1 champion conducted a total of six pit stops of which one was a drive-through penalty.

Michael Schumacher’s strategy at the 2004 French Grand Prix is also worth mentioning as the German beat pole-sitter and then Renault driver Fernando Alonso with a four-stop strategy.

The 1993 European Grand Prix, held at Donnington Park, is regarded as one of the best ever wet weather F1 races. Despite Ayrton Senna winning the race, Alain Prost set the record of the most number of pit stops performed in a single Grand Prix as the Frenchman conducted a staggering seven stops en route to his third place finish.

Fastest lap – Fernando Alonso did not only secure his seventh podium finish at the Dutch Grand Prix, but he also recorded the fastest lap of the race. The Spaniard clocked a 1m13.837s on Lap 56, beating Max Verstappen and Lewis Hamilton by just a tenth of a second for the fastest race lap.

It marked the first time that the two-time world champion secured a fastest lap in 2023, but he has now joined the group of drivers who have already set a fastest race lap this year at least once with this gang including Max Verstappen (6), Lewis Hamilton (2), Sergio Perez (2), George Russell (1) and Zhou Guanyu (1).

Records – Max Verstappen scored his 46th career win, his 11th victory this year’s and his ninth consecutive win which saw him draw level with Sebastian Vettel. His pole position which he secured in challenging climatic conditions was his 28th career pole position.

Red Bull scored their 105th F1 victory and their 14th consecutive triumph since last year’s season-closing Abu Dhabi Grand Prix with which they managed to beat their own record for the longest winning streak in F1.

Return – Aston Martin has had a difficult run of four races in July when they were unable to replicate the form they showed in the opening part of the season. But an upgraded floor appears to lift their performance again which Fernando Alonso duly used to secure his 105th career and his seventh podium finish in 2023 on the race track on which Aston Martin made their F1 debut with Roy Salvadori and Carroll Shelby back in 1959.

This result also saw the two-time world champion take over a record from seven-time world champion Michael Schumacher with the Spaniard now claiming the record for the longest interval between first and last career podium finishes.

Overtaking - The Dutch Grand Prix set a new record regarding the number of overtaking manoeuvres. No less than 186 overtaking manoeuvres were completed during the Zandvoort race which is exclusive pitstops and Lap 1 overtakes. Of these 186 overtaking actions, 59 were broadcast live. Fernando Alonso was the driver who conducted the highest number of overtakes with 13.

Double-scorers – Red Bull, McLaren and Alpine were the only teams to score points with both their cars. Ferrari collected points with Carlos Sainz, Mercedes with Lewis Hamilton, Williams with Alex Albon and Aston Martin with Fernando Alonso.

The debutant – Having served as Red Bull’s reserve driver, Liam Lawson made his Formula One debut on Sunday, replacing Daniel Ricciardo at AlphaTauri after the Australian sustained a broken bone in his hand during a crash in the second free practice.

The 21-year-old became the 10th New-Zealander to compete at the pinnacle of motorsport after Bruce McLaren, Tony Shelly, Chris Amon, Denny Hulme, Howden Ganley, Graham McRae, John Nicholson, Mike Thackwell and Brandon Hartley having raced in F1. The most successful ones were McLaren and Hulme who won four and eight races respectively.

Title fight - Championship runaway leader Max Verstappen further extended his lead in the Drivers’ Championship. The Dutchman sits atop the standings on 339 points, 138 points clear of his team-mate Sergio Perez. With Mercedes having displayed encouraging pace in recent months, Lewis Hamilton closed in on third-placed Fernando Alonso in the standings, albeit the Spaniard’s second-place finish at Zandvoort means that he now enjoys a lead of 12 points over the seven-time world champion.

There was a change between the Ferrari drivers as well. Charles Leclerc has had an improving form in the last race weeks, but his incident with Oscar Piastri on Lap 1 and the subsequent damage to the floor of his Ferrari SF23 meant that he was forced to retire from the Dutch Grand Prix. His team-mate Carlos Sainz finished the incident-filled round in P5, collecting 10 points and overtaking Leclerc in the standings. The Spaniard sits fifth on 102, three points clear of the Monegasque.

Mercedes driver George Russell failed to score points after his dismal strategy and a late incident with McLaren’s Lando Norris, meaning that he failed to score a single point for the third time in 2023. The former F2 and F3 champion is tied on points with Leclerc, but the Monegasque's second-place finish at the Austrian Grand Prix means that he is the higher-placed driver in the standings.

The biggest gainer of the Zandvoort race was Pierre Gasly who moved himself up to P10 in the standings thanks to his first podium finish with Alpine.

Track limits – After this year’s chaotic Austrian Grand Prix, only one single track limit infringement was registered at the Dutch Grand Prix. Alpine’s Pierre Gasly went wide at Turn 3 in the opening phases of the race which meant that he had his lap time deleted.

Penalties - A total of four sporting penalties were handed out at the Dutch Grand Prix. F1 debutant Liam Lawson received a 10-second time penalty for impeding Kevin Magnussen in the pit lane when AlphaTauri completed a double-stack pit stop at the end of the opening lap.

Sergio Perez was handed out a five-second time penalty for exceeding the pit lane speed limit of 60 kph by 0.8 kph. The Mexican was called in for wet weather tyres when he encountered a flooded area at the pit entry that caused him to collide with the wall, preventing him from braking in a timely manner.

Yuki Tsunoda received a five-second penalty and two penalty points after a collision with Mercedes driver George Russell. The Japanese driver was overtaken by the Briton into Turn 1, but he “was on the dirty inside line and having braked later, he then understeered into Russell.”

Haas driver Kevin Magnussen received a five-second time penalty that was imposed after the race. The Danish driver appeared to fall more than 10 car lengths of the car in front at the race resumption. “Multiple times during the two laps behind the safety car he dropped back more than the required ten car lengths, sometimes as far back as 260-270m and then sped forward, all in an attempt to warm his tyres,” read the FIA statement.