Heavy rain showers made an unexpected appearance on lap 61 out of the planned 72 laps that were to be held at the Zandvoort racing track. This prompted the entire lineup of racers to make a sudden switch to intermediates or full wets to navigate the water-soaked track.
Despite the change in tyres, the Turn 1 hairpin proved to be a daunting obstacle for a number of drivers. Alfa Romeo‘s Zhou Guanyu being one of the unfortunate victims of the wet track as he lost control of his vehicle, aquaplaning off the road and colliding with the Tecpro barriers.
Such an incident necessitated a Virtual Safety Car, which quickly escalated to a red flag situation, halting the race after a total of 65 laps were completed.
At the time when all operations were ceased, local champion Max Verstappen stood forth leading the pack for the Red Bull team. In a surprising turn of events, Verstappen’s team-mate, Sergio Perez, lost control at the same Turn 1, prior to Zhou’s accident, making him forfeit second place to Fernando Alonso of Aston Martin.
Perez attempted a recovery by switching to full wets which coincided with the red flag being waved, and this strategic error saw him fall behind to the sixth position. However, there was a silver lining for the Red Bull racer when the FIA‘s race control confirmed that the grid rankings at the restart would reflect the standings from the lap just before the red flag was waved. This put Perez back in the third place.
Rain also played a significant role at the start of the race. A brief yet noteworthy downpour impacted the tail end of the racetrack, causing a strategic divide among the racers. Some, like Piastri and Albon, braved the rain with their dry tyres, whilst the majority of competitors changed to intermediates, waiting for the track to dry up by around lap 11.
The dramatic race saw its first safety car being deployed following an accident involving Williams‘ driver Logan Sargeant at Turn 8. Ferrari‘s Charles Leclerc also had to bow out of the race prematurely after sustaining damage due to contact with Piastri on the first lap.
Leclerc tried to persevere with a new front wing affixed during his second pitstop, but the escalating damage to the floor of his car caused his performance to plummet. Eventually, his team decided to call him in, marking an early end to his race.
With rainfall likely to continue past 17:00 local time, there still is a possibility of completing the full race distance. Additionally, the drivers will have the liberty to decide their tyre choice for the restart of the race.