Max Verstappen admits his record-equalling ninth victory in a row was stressful as he had to deal with challenging weather conditions to win the Dutch Grand Prix.
Rain just as the race started meant the field was faced with a wet track in the final sector on the opening lap, but Verstappen stayed out on slick tires for an extra lap before pitting and was over 14s behind teammate Sergio Perez — who stopped immediately — by the time he’d taken on intermediates. Then a late downpour saw a red flag and Verstappen face pressure from Fernando Alonso, but he held on and continued his run of success at his home race.
“I think the first laps on the slicks were quite stressful. You don’t want to immediately go off the track, and also knowing how much grip there is still out there on the tires with the amount of water coming down, it was not easy,” Verstappen said.
“The final restart — seven laps to go, six laps to go, whatever — I knew that my first lap, the whole weekend already, has not been the best with warm-up. I knew that I had to survive that first lap. Fernando was pushing very hard behind; I could see him closely in my mirrors. Once I had the temperature in my tires, it was all well-balanced again.”
Although he insists his focus is not on records, Verstappen says the consistency of Red Bull has to be acknowledged, with the team unbeaten so far this year.
“It was probably one of the more difficult races to win again, but nine in a row is something I never even thought about. Very happy with that, but I’m in general very happy to win here in front of my home crowd.
“Even if you have the best car — I think there have been more dominant cars in the past than what we have at the moment [and] they haven’t been able…to win nine in a row — the consecutive wins we have as a team, it is hard. Especially like today, it’s easy to make a wrong call or even drop it…in the gravel or whatever. It’s never that straightforward unfortunately.”
Verstappen rates this win as his toughest Zandvoort victory, having won every time he has raced on home soil.
“I knew I had good pace on the intermediates, and I knew when I had to push,” he said. “The whole weekend already, we were quick. It was more about just keeping them alive for whenever you need them, and if there was more rain coming. In the beginning, I think it was pretty good.
“To compare the wins, I think all of them have been different. This one definitely was the hardest one to make all the right calls to the end.”