Formula 1 driver Max Verstappen has won the Dutch Grand Prix for the third year in a row after a sloppy and rainy race. The 25-year-old Limburg man has now won nine consecutive Formula 1 races.
With that, he has tied the record set by German driver Sebastian Vettel ten years ago. “It’s always tough. The pressure is on to perform, and I’m very happy to have won here,” Verstappen said. He also said it was “unbelievable” how the 105,000 fans in attendance stayed despite the poor weather, and remained in good spirits, cheering on their favorite drivers.
Spain’s Fernando Alonso took second on the wet Zandvoort circuit, ahead of Alpine’s Pierre Gasly. Verstappen’s teammate at Red Bull , Sergio Perez, received a 5 second penalty at the end of the race and did not set foot on the podium.
Verstappen has now won 11 of the 13 races this season. Pérez won the other two, making Red Bull undefeated so far this season. Verstappen’s lead over his teammate is now 138 points.
This time around the Zandvoort Circuit, it was not as easy for Verstappen as in the past two years. It started to rain shortly after the start of the race. The slippery track meant that the Dutch driver and most of the other drivers went into the pit to change to more suitable intermediate tires. The British drivers, Lando Norris and George Russell, who had started from second and third on the grid, stuck to the soft tires, and they paid for it by falling behind.
Pérez, Verstappen’s biggest competitor for the world title, was one of the first to come in for the tire change. The Mexican, who started seventh, therefore took the lead early on. The faster Verstappen quickly closed the gap and came back to the lead after another pit stop.
In the 16th lap things went awry for Williams driver Logan Sargeant on the drying track, who crashed hard into the barrier. He was forced to exit his vehicle, but he appeared to be uninjured. The American had also crashed during the third qualifying round on Saturday. The safety car came out on track, bringing the drivers close together again. But also when the race resumed, Verstappen drove away from his competitors with conviction.
Charles Leclerc, who also retired from qualifying on Saturday after a crash, was the second to retire during the race. Damage to the floor of his Ferrari was worsening, and he pulled off the track on lap 43 of 72.
Eight laps before the end it suddenly started to rain heavily in Zandvoort. The track became slippery and several drivers crashed. Alfa Romeo’s Zhou Guanyu took the most damage and was unable to continue. Due to the heavy rain, the race was interrupted for about 45 minutes. At the restart, Verstappen again drove away quickly, this time from Alonso. Pérez was unable to hold on to third as he was penalized for accelerating in the pit lane.
“Let’s go!” shouted Gasly after the race. “I was pretty upset I got a five second penalty early in the race,” he said, but he added that he felt redeemed when Perez was handed his penalty, pushing Gastly up on the podium. “It was very challenging from start to finish.”
Verstappen can get his hands on the record for the most consecutive victories in Formula 1 next Sunday during the Italian Grand Prix in Monza. Vettel started his series of victories in August 2013 at the Spa-Francorchamps circuit in Belgium when he was the top driver at Red Bull.
He also won the races in Italy, Singapore, South Korea, Japan, India, Abu Dhabi, the United States and Brazil, taking his fourth consecutive world title in the process.
“It’s one of those records that you assume will never be broken. It’s hard to find the right words,” said Vettel when he took over the record after his eighth win. Until then, the longest streak was seven consecutive victories, accomplished by Italian driver Alberto Ascari in 1952-1953, and the Michael Schumacher in 2004. Another German driver, Nico Rosberg, also won seven straight races between 2015 and 2016.
For Verstappen, the streak started with a victory in Miami at the beginning of May, followed by victories in Monaco, Spain, Canada, Austria, Great Britain, Hungary, Belgium and the Netherlands.