The Dutch Grand Prix 2023
When the race started the track was damp but as soon as the last red light lit up the rain started to fall and fall hard, the first corner was clean, Alonso passed both Albon and Russell in the first 3 corners to take 3rd, Sainz tried in vain to get past Albon, Piastri and Leclerc swapped position back and forth with the young Australian winning that battle but the ferrari being left with no right front wing end plate. But during all this action the rain was getting worse quickly and as Max Verstappen crossed the line to start Lap 2 others reacted to the rain on track and radar projections, Perez was the first man in followed by Chales Leclerc (to a totally unprepared pit crew who didn't have the intermediate tyres or themselves ready) and the cars of Gasly, Lawson and Tsunoda, a call that would ultimately get Gasly his first podium of the season
Lap 7 and Lawson gets a 10 second penalty for impeding Magnussen in the pit lane and Max Vertappen is up to 2nd after over taking a feisty Gasly and the Alfa Romeo of Zhou with 11 seconds between himself and team mate Perez in first.
By lap 9 that gap was down to 6.1 seconds and closing fast and behind them the Ferrari pit wall was swapping the Scuderia drivers because the damage to car of Charles Leclerc was holding up his team mate Sainz behind him, a decision they didn't live to regret. Despite the more rain forcast the track was drying fast and the Albon & Piasti who had held out on the soft tyre through the wet conditions were flying and making great moves up the field along with the HAAS of Magnussen. The rest of the grid took the hint and in a flurry of activity pit for the dry soft compound, Redbull decided to pit Max Verstappen before lead driver Perez meaning the Championship leader under cut his team mate and Perez had no clue till after he had stopped and saw it on the timing board, not a choice he seemed happy about. Even less happy was Gasly after the stewards decision to give him a 5 second penalty for speeding in the pit lane.
Lap 16 and Piastri finally pit for new soft tyres but much to the dismay of the advancing rookie, as he left the pits Sargeant had a big incident at turn 8 bring out a Safety car and negating any advantage Piastri had gained from riding out the wet track with his dry starting tyres. Had the Mclaren team left him out 1 more lap Oscar could have had very different fortunes today. During the safety car Mercedes and George Russell made the questionable choice to put the hard tyres on which landed him whey down the order and Stroll pit for new softs. lap 21 the safety car dipped in to the pit lane and Verstappen lead the grid around for the 1st restart of the day. It was a clean first corner with Perez holding onto the back of Max briefly, a great battle between Sainz and Gasly, and the latter held onto his position in 4th behind the Aston Martin of Alonso. Magnussen made a dangerous move while braking in defense of his position against an advancing Albon that the HAAS driver got a black and white flag for and Albon got the position, not long after Ocon also over took Magnussen, Piastri put a cracking move on Bottas and then Hamilton and Piastri passed an ailing Chales Leclerc, another fiery impressive move from the young aussie driving the tyres off the Mclaren.
Lap 38 and Charles Leclerc was losing yet more places, being over taken by the Alfa Romeo of Valteri Bottas and Liam Lawson in his first race in formula 1, before Ferrari retired the damaged car just 3 laps later.
When Alex Albon finally pit to change the soft tyres he started on, on lap 45 (a truly impressive stint through the rain at the start) and was up to 5th behind Gasly, but unlike all the cars who switched to the intermediate in the rain Albon( and Piastri) had to run a 2nd soft compound and was force to put the medium tyre on, Piastri and Mclaren did the same when he pit a lap later. Alonso had a slow stop that dropped him from 2nd to 4th. In the flurry of pit stops Yuki tsunoda had made his way up to 5th but over the next 5 laps drops down 6 places. More overtakes going on all over the track, Albon passing Russell, Hamilton got Norris, Gasly and Sainz had another great battle and Hamilton makes another brilliant move on the Alpine of Ocon, putting the Mercedes cars together on track with Hamilton on a much better strategy and Russell being told to let his team mate past but not without pushing hard enough to stay in front he dips a tyre on to the grass and has to make what you can only describe as a miracle catch to keep the car on the track altogether.
Lap 60 MORE RAIN!!! Lots more rain and this time no one is risking it stopping and making the soft work, the whole grid pit for inters except Ocon and Verstappen who put the full wet tyres on, with Redbull doing the same with Perez just 1 lap later and....at the same moment Zhou hits the wall bringing out a safety car and then being upgraded to a red flag while Perez was in the pit lane on lap 64 and with the rain only increasing in intensity the grid stat it out in the pits till it was safe to run.
With 2 laps to go Hamilton was trying everything he had to pass the sole surviving Ferrari of Sainz but despite some fantastic racing between the 2, Sainz held off the Brit who had a rapid Lando Norris on his tail, ready to pounce had either of the drivers in front made a mistake. Also fighting to the end was Albon and Piastri, with Albon staying ahead and finishing 8th a head of Piastri in 9th.
Max had over come 6 pit stops, 2 rain storms and changeable conditions to win his 3rd Dutch Grand Prix and his 9th Consecutive race this year beating/equaling the record held by Sebastian Vettel. It was a master class from the Championship leader but other drivers deserve some genuine applause, like Piastri for his mega and many over takes, Hamilton who again in the face of adversity came alive in the Mercedes, Norris who raced brilliantly after a bad call on tyres at the start that took his chances of better than 7th. Lawson who not only kept it on the road in a car he had never driver before Practice 3 Saturday morning, he also beat his experienced team mate Yuki Tsunoda, Gasly of course deserves a massive shout out, the team made a great call to pit him behind Perez for inters and the he did them proud by driving beast of a race making great overtakes and showing his real race craft.
WHAT A BLOODY BRILLIANT RACE( Please pardon the language but it really was)
Writer @ F1 Journal