Three things we can learn from the Dutch Grand Prix taught us

Max Verstappen (second from right) won his home grand prix.

Max Verstappen (second from right) won his home grand prix.

Published Aug 28, 2023


Max Verstappen equalled Sebastian Vettel's nine wins in a row record at the Dutch Grand Prix on Sunday.

The Dutchman kept cool and calm in a chaotic race in front of his home fans to extend Red Bull's remarkable unbeaten season to 13 races.

Verstappen can own the winning sequence benchmark if he serves up more of the same at Monza next weekend.

AFP Sport takes a look at three other storylines to emerge from a stormy weekend on the North Sea coast at Zandvoort.

Alonso and Aston 'flying'

Verstappen wasn't the only driver to leave the seaside resort with a significant milestone in his pocket.

Evergreen Fernando Alonso and Aston Martin began the second half of the season in hugely encouraging fashion.

The Spaniard's racecraft was underlined with a superb drive to take second, bagging the fastest lap and even presenting a real threat to Verstappen after the race restarted due to a deluge for a frantic seven-lap dash to the line.

After their season's brilliant beginning had tailed off before the summer break this was Alonso's first podium since Canada two months ago. It augurs well for the ambitious team in their battle for the best of the also rans behind the all-dominant Verstappen/Red Bull combination.

His 11th top three finish of the season also broke Michael Schumacher's record between his first and last career podium.

Alonso's first podium came in Malaysia, 2003. He put the result down to his car. "It was flying, very competitive, very easy to drive. In these conditions you need a car that you can trust, and I did trust the car a lot today."

Cruel blow for Ricciardo

On Thursday Daniel Ricciardo was like a kid in a sweet shop, the pleasure of looking forward to the next ten races after his return from sabbatical with AlphaTauri plain for all to see.

Twenty four hours later the second chapter in his F1 story took a decidedly dark turn when a practice crash left him with a broken hand, likely forcing him to miss several races.

As the Australian left the track to get his injury assessed by a specialist surgeon in Barcelona Christian Horner suggested it could be some time before he is fit enough to return.

"Any normal human being will probably be about 10 to 12 weeks, but we know that these guys aren't normal," said Red Bull team principal Horner.

"So then it'll all be about the recovery process. How long that will take, you know, is it going to be three weeks? Is it a month? Is it six weeks? Nobody really knows."

Ricciardo's last minute stand-in, reserve driver Liam Lawson, coped manfully considering it was the 21-year-old New Zealander's first ever race after three practice run-outs last term.

"There's some work to do, but I'm just happy to have gotten through the race, experiencing different conditions and scenarios, to be able to take them forward," said the Kiwi who came in 13th.

Mercedes mishandle tactics

Team principal Toto Wolff was left to reflect on "a difficult day", George Russell starting third but crossing the line 17th, and Lewis Hamilton scraping into sixth.

Despite their car showing pace wrong decisions made in ultra tricky conditions cost them dear. Especially the one to keep the cars out too long during the first spell of rain at the start.

"I think we stayed out catastrophically too long. It is annoying as the car had the pace. From then on we were just recovering as we could," said Wolff. "It was an entertaining race for Formula One – and the kind of day when we should have been part of the action at the front. But if, but and maybe don’t count for anything in this sport."

It's fair to say they aren't the only team looking forward to a less chaotic and even rain-free contest in Italy next weekend.