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Verstappen wins chaotic Dutch Grand Prix


The big question today is the weather. Heading into the afternoon there are warnings of severe thunderstorms, which will no doubt result in George Russell sharing his thoughts with everyone and his dog.

However, we've had these warnings before and the weather actually turned out fine. Indeed, though it rained overnight, the rain predicted this morning never appeared.

Fact is it is most likely to be changeable, which might be bad news for Russell but good news for the rest of us.

As it stands, it is anticipated that the race will start under heavy rainfall but this will cease around half-an-hour later with no further downpours. We shall see.

Seeking to equal Sebastian Vettel's record of 9 successive wins the weather is unlikely to give Max Verstappen a headache, while the likes of Alex Albon and Fernando Alonso would welcome a shower or two.

Last night Yuki Tsunoda was handed a 3-place grid drop for impeding Lewis Hamilton, and this morning it was confirmed that Kevin Magnussen will start from the pitlane after taking on a new engine.

One driver who would probably prefer some of the wet stuff is Liam Lawson who was drafted in yesterday morning to replace the injured Daniel Ricciardo. The kiwi has had no dry running here so will no doubt prefer it if conditions remain the same as yesterday.

As ever, the question mark over the weather means that it is anyone's guess how things will develop, however, while Russell and Norris will sense podium finishes, there are plenty of drivers out there who could yet spring a surprise... not least Fernando.

The Ferraris are struggling, and it will be interesting to see how Leclerc handles things today, likewise Hamilton.

As we await the opening of the pitlane, there is work going on on Perez' car. That said, the atmosphere in the garage appears calm, not one of panic.

Ahead of the green light Verstappen heads the queue, the local hero clearly playing up to the crowd.

Enjoying a dry track, the Dutchman is soon joined by Hamilton, Leclerc, Russell, Sainz, Perez and the rest. Last to head out is Sargeant.

Perez is advised of a strong tailwind in to Turn 10, while Stroll is told of a similar situation at Turn 7.

Last to take their places on the grid are Hamilton, Albon, Sargeant and Russell.

In terms of strategy, there are several options, both in terms of the number of stops where the choice is between two or one, and in terms of choice of compound. This variety is down to several factors. First and foremost, the hard tyre here is the C1, which has been modified for this year and, while degrading very little offers more grip than its predecessor. Then there is the weather with the cool temperatures facilitating the use of the medium and soft compounds.

Finally, there's the fact that there is a wide choice in terms of types of tyre. The number of stops can also vary depending on the characteristics of the cars and the choices made when it comes to aero downforce levels. Those who favour track position will most likely opt for a single stop, using a combination of medium and hard. Those who believe they have what is needed to be competitive when it comes to overtaking, will go for the two stops, favouring the use of the medium and soft.

Added to this, of course, is the unknown factor concerning the weather which all points to it being a very interesting race.

Williams reveals that on his way to the grid Albon suffered a puncture. However, this was on a used set of tyres and not those with which he will start the race. Also, as he was running at a relatively low speed, he didn't incur any damage to the floor of his car.

With just under half an hour before the start there is work ongoing on Leclerc's car.

Ahead of the formation lap, the air temperature is 17 degrees C, while the track temperature is 29 degrees. The risk of rain is 70%.

All are starting on softs bar Hamilton and Hulkenberg who have opted for mediums. Fresh rubber all round.

Alonso is told that there is rain around 5 minutes away, though Toto Wolff had claimed around twenty minutes into the race.

They head off on the formation lap, all getting away cleanly.

The grid forms.

They're away! Strong starts from Verstappen and Norris, while Albon is almost alongside Russell going into Turn 1. Alonso is right behind Russell, while on the inside Sainz is behind Albon.

However, out of Turn 2 Albon is losing ground, while Alonso nails Russell into Turn 3.

Still struggling, Albon is under pressure from Sainz and Perez, the Spaniard going around the outside of the Williams in Turn 7. Albon immediately retakes the place as Sainz almost falls victim to Perez also.

Even before the end of the opening lap it starts to rain, as Verstappen leads Norris, Alonso, Russell, Albon, Sainz, Piastri and Stroll.

Leclerc, Gasly, Tsunoda, Lawson and Magnussen all pit, switching to Inters, but it's a disaster for the Ferrari driver as his team doesn't have tyres available.

"You need to watch the radar," advises Verstappen.

"Rain is easing off," Norris is told, as Verstappen, Alonso and Sainz pit. Russell passes Norris for the lead, while Albon is up to third ahead of Perez - who is flying on his Inters.

Norris runs wide and moments later Perez passes Russell for the lead.

"We should have come in," says Hamilton, "it's very wet."

Leclerc goes off and into the gravel at Turn 11 as Norris finally pits.

As Hamilton pits, after 3 laps - yes, just 3 laps - Perez leads Zhou, Gasly, Verstappen, Leclerc, Alonso, Sainz, Tsunoda, Magnussen and Russell, the Mercedes driver, one of several, including Albon, still on slicks.

Russell pits at the end of Lap 4, rejoining in 17thm as Stroll also pits.

The stewards are investigating an impeding incident in the pitlane involving Magnussen and Lawson.

Verstappen forces Gasly wide on the entry to Turn 3 as they battle for 3rd, as Lawson is handed a 10s time penalty.

Alonso passes Leclerc for fifth, the Spaniard revelling in the conditions.

Lap 6 sees Verstappen post a new fastest lap (22.503), The Dutchman subsequently passing Zhou for second.

Still on slicks, Sargeant is lapped by Perez just 7 laps into the afternoon.

Also on slicks, albeit down in 15th, Albon goes quickest in S1. Clearly that sector is drying.

"Charles has front wing damage," Sainz is told, the Spaniard just 0.5s down on his teammate.

Out front, Verstappen is just 5.77s down on his teammate.

Sainz passes his teammate for sixth.

"Rain is coming," Russell is told, "it's lighter than before, just two or three minutes out."

Magnussen pits at the end of Lap 9, as Piastri (softs) goes quickest in the first two sectors.

Hamilton and Stroll both pit at the end of Lap 10, both switching to softs as Piastri posts a new fastest lap (19.061).

Check out our Sunday gallery from Zandvoort here.


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1. Posted by kenji, 27/08/2023 22:58

"Never a dull moment!!! Who said it was a difficult track to pass on?"

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