Max Verstappen won a hectic 2023 Dutch Grand Prix that brought F1 back with a bang after the summer break, and showed there may be life in the rest of the season yet.
In doing so, Verstappen equalled Sebastian Vettel‘s record for the most consecutive grand prix wins at nine, and few would bet against him breaking it next time out at Monza.
The only reason Verstappen doesn’t feature here is in the interest of… Interest. The Dutchman could’ve been in a the winners pretty much every weekend this season but that’d be boring and he’ll have to be included at the Italian GP if he does break the record.
Still, there were plenty of drivers to choose from for this one, unsurprisingly given such a chaotic weekend.
Winner: Lewis Hamilton
It’s not how you start, it’s how you finish. Hamilton was over a minute down just eleven laps into the race, and was fuming with Mercedes for leaving him out on the dry tyres after all those around him had pitted.
And that was after a deeply disappointing Q2 exit, meaning a Mercedes has missed Q3 in half of the last 16 F1 qualifying sessions.
However, Hamilton turned it around from there. He looked so comfortable working his way through the field at a track that’s not the easiest to overtake on, including the neat move he stuck around the outside of Lando Norris, and probably would’ve had Sainz had the race gone on a lap longer too.
But as it was, 13th to sixth is not to be sniffed at.
Loser: Logan Sargeant
Oh Logan. After qualifying tenth the American looked set for the first points of his F1 career, but that went up in smoke almost immediately – literally thanks to Sargeant‘s first-corner lockup that set him back six places on the opening lap.
And 15 depressingly similar laps later Sargeant‘s race was over as he span into the wall suffering a hydraulics issue for his second crash in as many days.
There’s been more and more chatter that Sargeant could be imminently replaced at Williams, which would mark a pretty monumentally stupid development plan after they promoted him to F1 a year early, but at least James Vowles has rubbished those rumours.
Winner: Fernando Alonso
How good is it to see Alonso back on the podium? Aston Martin have silverware for the first time since the Canadian GP and they look capable of fighting for more trophies in the second half of the season too.
Alonso said ahead of the Dutch GP that he’d be happy with two or three more podiums in the remainder of the year and didn’t expect to replicate his six from the first half of 2023, so he’s well on his way to achieving that goal. And a happy Fernando is the best Fernando.
His move on George Russell up the inside of turn 3 was one of the overtakes of the season, it’s such a stunning corner and Alonso showed how it’s done, after Verstappen was arguably lucky to escape a penalty for seeming to push Gasly off there.
Loser: Sergio Perez
Like with Hamilton, it’s how you finish that’s important here despite Perez setting himself up well for a creditable podium after starting seventh.
But Perez and Red Bull combined for the worst-managed end to a race since Abu Dhabi 2021, slipping from second to fourth in just 12 laps.
The mistake at turn one, then a pit stop that couldn’t have been timed any worse, then the penalty for speeding in the pitlane, it went from bad to awful in a remarkably small number of laps for the Mexican.
It was also yet another heavy qualifying defeat for Perez, he trailed home over 1.3 seconds behind Verstappen.
Winner: Pierre Gasly
There’s a certain irony how three of Pierre Gasly‘s four podiums have come directly at the expense of the three drivers who’ve featured for Red Bull since he was sacked from the team halfway through 2019.
This one was probably the most deserving of the lot though, Gasly remained in the fight at the top throughout the race and pounced to take advantage of Perez‘s collapse at the death.
In what’s been a punishingly difficult 2023 season so far for Alpine, the drivers have been the standouts of the whole operation, from Ocon‘s Monaco podium to Gasly‘s statement sprint in Belgium and now a haul of 16 points and one trophy from Zandvoort.
Loser: Daniel Ricciardo
This doesn’t need much analysis, does it? Sustain a broken wrist in free practice – especially in an incident that Ricciardo looked frustrated he didn’t react to sooner – and you can’t not feature as a loser.
The only reason Liam Lawson doesn’t feature in the winners is because it felt too uncouth, but the Kiwi now has a golden opportunity to make his case for a full-time F1 seat.
Winner: Dutch Grand Prix
Zandvoort extended until 2025 ahead of this season after two successful editions of the modern Dutch GP, but based on this weekend the event looks sure to remain on the calendar well before that.
Sellout crowds packed the grandstands bathed in orange and there was excitement from the first practice session as Nico Hulkenberg hit the wall and the running order looked to be anyone’s guest.
That continued into a scintillating qualifying session that really had it all and produced a fantastic grid for Sunday’s battle. And the race itself was a very strong candidate for best of the season.
The rain definitely helped but Zandvoort‘s tight and twisty nature is a recipe for excitement, inviting daring overtakes while punishing any slip-ups with its grass and gravel runoffs.
It’s not just action on the track too. Fans looked like they were loving every second of it even in rain breaks, with house and techno music blasting out over the grandstands and Verstappen providing the result they all came to see.
Loser: Wet-weather tyres
If you ever feel useless, just remember Pirelli brings dozens of full-wet tyres to every grand prix knowing full well they’ll never be used in anger.
The FIA has been testing mudguard-style wheel covers that can be fitted to cars to reduce spray and allow wet racing to return, but by all accounts there’s still a significant amount of work to be done before they’re ready to be deployed on race weekends.
Until then, heavy downpours will continue to halt grand prix in their tracks and those blue-walled tyres will continue to be rendered redundant.