Max Verstappen survived a chaotic rain-impacted Dutch Grand Prix to equal the record for the most consecutive wins by a driver in Formula 1 history on home soil.
The reigning World Champion had to overcome mixed conditions, a drop down the order and a late stoppage induced by a tremendous downpour to claim his third successive victory at Zandvoort.
Fernando Alonso capitalised on a mistake from Sergio Perez to return Aston Martin to the podium for the first time since Canada in June, with a penalty for the Red Bull elevating Pierre Gasly into third for Alpine.
With rain in the air as early as the formation lap, Verstappen quickly brought the pack round back to the starting grid. Unlike at Silverstone, he was able to fend off Lando Norris to maintain the lead.
Although Alex Albon was able to preserve fourth away from the line, the Williams driver was quickly swarmed by George Russell and Alonso, who bypassed both by cunningly running a shallower line through the banked Turn 3 to seize third position.
Albon was then overtaken by Carlos Sainz, but he was able to at least recover that position as the drivers scrambled for grip through a damper latter part of the lap.
The anticipated heavier rain arrived, but with the first sector remaining dry, many elected to stay out. However, Perez gambled on stopping for Intermediates, which proved to be an inspired call when he leapt ahead of several drivers who had delayed making a trip to the pits to discard the dry tyres.
Verstappen and Alonso immediately boxed, placing Norris and Russell into the lead. The British pair duelled into Turn 1, with the Mercedes racer coming out on top. But Russell’s position at the front of the field wouldn’t last for long when Perez easily swooped into the lead, while Norris slipped further back into the clutches of a charging Alonso in the Aston Martin.
McLaren and Mercedes’ delay in pitting their drivers saw Norris and Hamilton drop right to the bottom, with Verstappen being demoted to fourth once the pit stops played out.
Nevertheless, the reigning World Champion was soon back up and running in second, overtaking Pierre Gasly and Zhou Guanyu on successive laps at Turn 3 before eroding 4.2s from Perez’s lead within one lap.
Further back, Leclerc had sustained wing damage after contact with Oscar Piastri, allowing Alonso to sail through. The struggling Leclerc then relinquished position to Ferrari team-mate Sainz at Turn 1.
By Lap 11 it was drying out and those that stayed on slicks were quicker. Lewis Hamilton led the way, followed by Alonso, Sainz, Yuki Tsunoda and Esteban Ocon.
Verstappen, who had closed the gap to only 3s, nailed the timing back onto slicks to comfortably undercut his team-mate for the race lead, much to Perez’s dismay.
With the race beginning to settle down into an orderly fashion, Logan Sargeant brought out the Safety Car after crashing for the second time in the weekend. The American rookie was left perplexed by the incident that left his Williams in the barrier at Turn 8.
Once racing resumed at the beginning of Lap 22, Verstappen caught Perez off guard, forcing the second Red Bull to watch out for Alonso lurking menacingly in his mirrors.
Meanwhile, Gasly successfully retained fourth ahead of Sainz, but Kevin Magnussen tumbled down the order as Albon and Ocon manoeuvred their way past the Haas racer. His plight would swiftly continue over the succeeding laps, with Zhou, Tsunoda and Norris all coming through on the Dane.
Leclerc, who was informed he was nursing floor damage, relinquished two positions in quick succession to Hamilton and Piastri, dropping him down to a pitiful 14th. With his problem deteriorating, Ferrari elected to retire his car not long after.
Committing to the right strategy calls through the mixed conditions had put Zhou in contention for points, but Norris and Hamilton soon demoted the Alfa Romeo as the British pair’s recovery drives continued.
Amid a flurry of pit stops, Gasly finally came in to serve his five-second time penalty for speeding in the pit lane earlier in proceedings, releasing Sainz into fourth. The Frenchman marginally came out ahead of Russell, who had reverted to running the Hard tyre since the switch back to slicks after losing out during the crossover period.
Alonso had been routinely running in a net third when a slow stop cost him track position to Sainz in the fight for the final podium place. However, the Spaniard was determined to not let a rostrum appearance slip, immediately setting about reeling in his fellow countryman before easing his way back ahead down the straight.
AlphaTauri’s attempts to not pit Tsunoda again had witnessed him rise as high as fifth, but he was soon pushed out of the top 10 at a rapid rate. Similarly, Russell’s endeavour to run the Hard compound to the end saw him be passed by Albon, whose memorable weekend continued with a move up to eighth.
Despite one Mercedes moving backwards, Hamilton charged past Norris into Turn 1 to claim ninth and then pounced on his flailing team-mate to gain another position.
Sainz and Gasly’s race-long battle continued with the Alpine driver emerging out on top, but the closing stages were transformed again when a late deluge hit the track.
A multitude of drivers immediately swarmed for the Intermediates, led by Perez, with Verstappen following a lap later. Although Verstappen maintained the lead, Albon lost out and plummeted down to ninth as the rain continued to get heavier.
Perez was caught out by the worsening showers, locking up and going straight on at Turn 1 to hand second to Alonso, before Zhou crashed to bring out the red flag.
Having pitted right before the race was stopped for the full Wet tyre, Perez gave up a further three positions to Gasly, Sainz and Hamilton. However, the FIA confirmed that the order would go back to the previous timed sector before Perez entered the pits, promoting him back to third place.
After a lengthy delay totalling nearly three-quarters of an hour, the race would get restarted from Lap 65 onwards behind the Safety Car with a rolling start procedure.
Following two laps behind the Safety Car, the 17 remaining drivers were released back to racing speed, with Verstappen instantly setting about reasserting his superiority
Russell pounced on Norris to muscle his way into seventh but it all went wrong for the Mercedes driver as a puncture following contact took him into retirement.
Having courted the Ferrari for numerous laps, Hamilton’s desperate lunge on Sainz resulted in slight contact between the pair at Turn 1 on the final lap.
Verstappen, however, navigated every obstacle effortlessly to join ex-Red Bull World Champion Sebastian Vettel in winning nine straight races in F1.
Alonso began the second half of the campaign in the same manner he did the first: on the podium.
However, a five-second time penalty for speeding in the pit lane demoted Perez from the top three, promoting Gasly to the podium for the first time in Alpine colours.
Perez would retain fourth ahead of Sainz, who defended resolutely to beat Hamilton and Norris home. Albon claimed more points for Williams with eighth, ahead of Piastri and Ocon to complete the points positions.