The 2023 Dutch Grand Prix was a dazzling display of change and strategic adaptation from Max Verstappen, bringing a third consecutive win to his fellow Dutchmen. Despite the jubilant display from local supporters, Verstappen conceded having to face a demanding contest due to competitors such as Sergio Perez making superior initial tactical calls. Behind Verstappen, there was a resurgence from Aston Martin, strategic missteps by McLaren and Mercedes, continual disappointment for Ferrari, while Williams held the spotlight over the weekend.
Equalling the track record with his ninth consecutive win, Verstappen, now primed to surpass the fame of Red Bull‘s earlier champions, heads to Monza on a steady winning streak since Baku. This doesn’t seem to phase him though as he states, “I’ll think about it next week. I’m first going to enjoy this weekend… nine in a row was something I never even thought about. So yeah, very happy with that. But I think I’m in general very happy to win here in front of my own crowd.”
According to Verstappen, his pursuit of Perez during the Baku race paved the way for his unstoppable success this year, drawing lessons from that race in setting up the car and managing different tools. However, Verstappen emphasises that he attributes his win streak to applying these newfound strategies in subsequent races.
It seemed that Perez would be difficult to beat after his strategic decision to pit at the end of the first lap, but his pace significantly dipped compared to Verstappen thereafter. Following a few crucial errors, Perez slipped further behind his teammate. Red Bull team boss, Christian Horner reaffirmed Perez’s secured seat for 2024, stating “He’s a Red Bull Racing driver. We have an agreement with him.” This appears to dismiss Red Bull advisor Helmut Marko‘s previous hints at a possible replacement of Perez for 2024.
Aston Martin‘s recent upgrade may be behind Fernando Alonso‘s third second-place finish of the season. Alonso elaborated, “I felt the car was easier to drive…we were more competitive. We’ve been in the top five in every session this weekend.” But with the next race at Monza, a completely different track layout awaits.
Missteps from other teams, particularly McLaren and Mercedes, could have swung the race in a different direction had they made different earlier tactical judgments, indicating the competition behind Red Bull is still wide open. Ferrari, however, seems to be in a rut with its inconsistency signified by Charles Leclerc‘s crashes and Carlos Sainz‘s observation that “[Ferrari was] just nowhere.”
An unusual rule was applied at the race, attributed to the narrow pit complex at Zandvoort. In order to prevent the recurrence of pit lane incidents like in 2022, racers had to use the intermediate wet tyre specification instead of the wet weather tyres.
While negotiations continue about who will be driving for Red Bull/AlphaTauri next season, Daniel Ricciardo‘s return to F1 has been delayed due to his hand injury. Williams had a solid weekend at the Dutch Grand Prix, with Alex Albon securing an eighth place position. Hamilton, asked about his thoughts on Felipe Massa‘s legal challenge to F1 for the results of the 2008 world championship, kept his response brief, saying “I’m really just focused on here and now.”