Verstappen equals F1 win record at Dutch Grand Prix
Red Bull's Max Verstappen equalled Sebastian Vettel's record of nine consecutive F1 wins with victory in a dramatic Dutch Grand Prix that was bookended by heavy rain showers.
Starting from pole position at his home race, Verstappen led the field away, but a downpour just after the start left teams and drivers with a dilemma of either pitting to fit Intermediate tyres, or staying out on slick tyres in the hope that the shower would pass.
Taking advantage of an early switch to Inters proved decisive for Sergio Perez, who vaulted up from seventh on the grid to lead by Lap 3, with Zhou Guanyu and Pierre Gasly also making the most of their treaded rubber to sit second and third.
Verstappen emerged fourth after his stop, but quickly disposed of Gasly and Zhou to move into second by Lap 7, and started to close on Perez.
By now the rain had stopped, and with the track starting to dry out, those who had stopped for Intermediate tyres needed to pit for a new set of slicks. Crucially, Red Bull called Verstappen in to do so one lap before Perez, and the extra lap on dry tyres allowed him to leapfrog the Mexican and retake the lead on Lap 13 - a move Perez later questioned.
In dry conditions, the race proceeded without much incident, but another, stronger rain shower hit the Zandvoort circuit on Lap 60, prompting chaos in the pit lane as drivers dived in to take on more Intermediate rubber.
However, with the rain proving torrential, it quickly became apparent that even Intermediate tyres were inadequate for the conditions, and when Zhou aquaplaned off the track and hit the barrier heavily at Turn 1, the Virtual Safety Car was deployed, which was quickly upgraded to a Red Flag on Lap 64.
Following a delay of some 30 minutes to fix the damaged barriers and wait for the rain to subside, the remaining seven laps of the race got underway with a Safety Car restart, with Verstappen leading ahead of Fernando Alonso.
Though the Spaniard looked ready to challenge Verstappen once the Safety Car peeled into the pits, the Dutchman held off his challenge to score his ninth consecutive win and his 11th in 13 Grands Prix.
"Incredible. They didn't make it easy for us with the weather to make all the right calls. Incredibly proud," said Verstappen.
"I already had goosebumps when they were playing the national anthem before the start.
"Even with all the bad weather, the rain, the fans are still going at it. So an incredible atmosphere.
"I'm going to enjoy this weekend. It's always tough. The pressure is on to perform and I'm very happy to win here."
Behind Verstappen, Alonso equalled his and Aston Martin's best finish of the year with second place.
Perez crossed the line third, but was dropped to fourth after being hit with a five-second penalty for speeding in the pit lane, promoting Alpine's Pierre Gasly to third for his best Grand Prix finish in over two years.
Behind the top three, Carlos Sainz took fifth for Ferrari after a fierce battle with the Mercedes of Lewis Hamilton, who finished sixth.
Lando Norris finished a disappointing seventh for McLaren after a gamble to remain on slicks during the early downpour didn't pay off, while Alex Albon continued his good weekend form with eighth place in his Williams.
Norris' teammate Oscar Piastri took ninth, and Gasly's teammate Esteban Ocon rounded out the top ten.
Verstappen's win sees him extend his already huge lead in the Drivers' Championship, and the Dutchman now has 339 points. Perez remains second with 201, and Alonso is third on 168 points.
In the Constructors' Championship, Red Bull still lead and now have 540 points. Mercedes stay second with 255, and Aston Martin remain third with 215 points.
The 14th round of the 2023 F1 World Championship is next weekend's Italian Grand Prix at Monza.