ZANDVOORT, Netherlands — Runaway Formula 1 leader Max Verstappen won a rain-scarred Dutch Grand Prix on Sunday to equal Sebastian Vettel’s record of nine consecutive F1 wins, and increased his huge championship lead at 138 points as he heads for a third straight world title.
The Red Bull star picked up his third straight win from pole position at Circuit Zandvoort, with veteran Aston Martin driver Fernando Alonso of Spain finishing second and picking up a bonus point for fastest lap.
“Nine games in a row is something I had never thought of. I’m very happy with that,” Verstappen said. “I know I have a car capable of a lot.
The local crowd dressed in orange blew it up.
“I already had goosebumps when they played the national anthem before the start. Even with the bad weather and the rain the fans were still there, there was an amazing atmosphere,” said the Dutch driver. to perform.
Alpine driver Pierre Gasly crossed the finish line in fourth place behind Red Bull driver Sergio Perez, but the Frenchman dropped to third as Perez was handed a five-second speeding penalty in the pit lane.
For Gasly, who had suffered the same penalty earlier, it was a fourth career podium.
“I feel so happy, what a race,” he said.
Perez finished fourth ahead of Ferrari’s Carlos Sainz Jr. and Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton sixth.
The chaotic race was delayed for 40 minutes by a late red flag after Alfa Romeo’s Zhou Guanyu crashed. He restarted with a rolling start on lap 65 of 72, in a race that featured several tire swaps as the changing weather conditions took their toll.
“There were so many rivers on the track that it becomes so dangerous,” Verstappen said.
The race resumed with Verstappen ahead of Alonso, Perez and Gasly. After two laps behind the safety car, Verstappen pulled away comfortably to claim his 11th win of a dominant campaign, extending his lead over Perez.
Vettel set the record for consecutive wins in 2013 with Red Bull during his first dominant era – when he won four titles in a row – and Verstappen’s win was a 14th straight record for Red Bull dating back to the last race in the league. ‘last year.
“To match Sebastian, nine straight wins, to do it twice as a team is really incredible,” said Red Bull team principal Christian Horner, who was also in charge during Vettel’s heyday.
Verstappen also moved closer to his own F1 record of 15 wins set last year and 46 overall. Verstappen, who turns 26 next month, is already fifth all-time in wins. Alain Prost (51) and Vettel (53) are in his sights with nine races to go.
It was another bad day for Ferrari, with Charles Leclerc retiring on lap 44 due to ground damage. This is Leclerc’s third retirement this season, as many as all of last season, while Sainz still has no podium.
Alonso, 42, is enjoying a resurgence and is confident of picking up his 33rd career win at some point.
“We are getting closer,” he said. “The car was flying, it was very competitive, very easy to drive. In these conditions you need a car you can trust and I trusted the car today.
– Formula 1 (@F1) August 27, 2023
McLaren’s Lando Norris finished seventh, while Alex Albon (Williams), Oscar Piastri (McLaren) and Esteban Ocon (Alpine) completed the top 10. It was a race to forget for Mercedes driver George Russell, who started third and finished 17th.
The start saw Verstappen pull away cleanly from Norris and Alonso passed Russell to move into third. Rain was falling heavily moments later, forcing several drivers into the pits for the first of many tire changes.
Surprisingly, Ferrari didn’t have the new tires ready for Leclerc and the team didn’t seem to notice he had a damaged front wing – yet another mistake in a string of errors from Ferrari this season and last.
Perez came in for his change one lap ahead of Verstappen, who came out 10 seconds behind Perez but quickly started closing the gap. With the track drying up, Verstappen stepped in for another change while Ferrari changed Leclerc’s front wing. Perez came on the next lap, this time, and emerged three seconds behind new leader Verstappen.
Logan Sargeant started from 10th place – the highest grid spot for an American driver since 1993 – but crashed for the second time in as many days, bringing out the safety car on lap 17 of 72 of the steep incline circuit.
“I don’t know what happened, man,” an exasperated Sargeant told his team.
Sargeant, who failed to score a point in his debut season and is battling to save his place, sat on a grassy embankment with his head bowed.
On the track, Verstappen comfortably held off Perez after the safety car restarted, with Alonso in third. Perez drifted further behind Verstappen as Leclerc returned to the garage.
He hopes his fortunes will improve next weekend at Monza, Ferrari’s home track where Verstappen can set a new F1 record if he wins.
It would be a suitable place to do so, given that Vettel won his first race there in 2008.
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