It takes rain to make a Formula 1 race interesting this season. The Dutch grand prix started out pretty normally, with Red Bull's Max Verstappen in pole position, McLaren's Lando Norris in second, and Aston Martin's Fernando Alonso in third. However, before the end of lap one, rain suddenly and unexpectedly came down, causing chaos as teams were unsure about swapping to intermediate tires. That chaos created an unusual leaderboard, which continued for the rest of the race.
Not only did that rain create chaos among the pit crews but it also gave us surprising driver battles that made the race exciting. Williams' Alex Albon went wheel to wheel with Alonso, Alpine's Pierre Gasly attempted to hold off Verstappen for third place, and even Alfa Romeo's Zhou Guanyu held second place for a bit. AlphaTauri's Yuki Tsunoda, Haas' Kevin Magnussen, and Alpine's Esteban Ocon also battled in the top 10 for much of the race. We rarely get to see those drivers duking it out in the top ten with the usual suspects from Red Bull, Ferrari, Mercedes, and Aston Martin, so it was really fun and refreshing to see.
Unfortunately, there were some drawbacks to the rain, as well. Williams' Logan Sargeant spun and crashed into a barrier, retiring him from the race. Thankfully he was OK but he was despondent afterward, sitting in the grass, hanging his head with his helmet still on. Ferrari's Charles Leclerc suffered damage in lap one, then a horrifically slow pit stop from Ferrari, and lower aero damage that ruined his chances of competing and ultimately forced him to retire from the race.
In lap 61, the rain came back with a vengeance and caused even more confusion. At first, teams like Red Bull, Aston Martin, and Alpine pitted their drivers for intermediate tires but it wasn't enough. Red Bull's Sergio Perez spun off, hitting the barrier, but it only lost him a single place, dropping from second to third. However, Guanyu hydroplaned and hit a barrier, retiring him from the race. Thankfully, he wasn't injured. Tsunoda and Mercedes' Lewis Hamilton also spun but only landed in the gravel and were able to get back on the track.
The race restarted in lap 66 behind a safety car in the wet, with Verstappen in the lead, Alonso in second, and Perez in third. While it wasn't raining after the restart, the track was soaked and littered with standing water. Mercedes' George Russell suffered a puncture, essentially putting him out of the race. Race stewards also announced that Perez would face a five second penalty for speeding in the pit lane. That penalty essentially locked up a second place finish for Alonso and made the battle for fourth place much more interesting. All the fourth-place Gasly needed to do was stay within five seconds of Perez to finish third, which he successfully did, giving him his first podium finish since 2021, even after facing a five second penalty of his own earlier in the day. After the race, he was naturally thrilled.
Max Verstappen's win was his ninth in a row, tying Sebastian Vettel's record. He'll have the chance to break the record next week at Monza, on September 3.
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