RACE REPORT | F1 Netherlands 2023

Verstappen clinched victory in his 46th F1 race, extending his lead over Pérez in the championship standings to a 138-point gap. The 25-year-old reigning leader of the Formula One championship, who once again inched closer to securing a third consecutive world title, outpaced Aston Martin's Fernando Alonso by a margin of 3.7 seconds at Zandvoort. Securing the third spot on the podium was Pierre Gasly of the Alpine team.

Following his pole position victory in qualifying, Verstappen held onto his lead post-start. However, as rain started to fall, several drivers opted to pit for fresh tires, leading to a reshuffling of the running order. Pérez took advantage and briefly claimed the lead, making a leap from seventh place at the race's commencement. Yet, as the rain abated later, Verstappen retook the lead. In the 11th lap, he switched to dry tires, and even though Pérez followed suit the next lap, he reentered the track trailing behind Verstappen.

On the 16th lap, American driver Logan Sargeant of the Williams team crashed, prompting the deployment of the safety car. Verstappen, leading the pack, maintained his advantage after the race resumed and gradually extended his lead. Pérez secured second place, while Alonso held onto third. In the 43rd lap, Ferrari's Charles Leclerc retired due to vehicle damage, dropping out of the top ten points-scoring positions. On the flip side, Gasly, Juki Tsunoda of Alpha Tauri, and Alexander Albon of WIlliams put in strong performances.

The unexpected turn of events occurred towards the race's conclusion. With ten laps to go, rain began to fall again on the Zandvoort track, prompting racers to pit once more for fresh tires. The downpour intensified, causing Pérez to lose control and slip to third place. After a crash involving China's Zhou Guangyu, race organizers raised the red flags, leading to the race being halted with seven laps remaining.

After a pause of over three-quarters of an hour, the Grand Prix resumed. Verstappen successfully fended off Alonso's challenge and secured a confident victory. Alonso snagged the additional point for the fastest lap. "It was an incredibly intense race. We were really quick in the wet conditions. The car was flying; it's highly competitive and responsive. In these circumstances, having a car you can rely on is crucial, and I had that today. Standing on the podium alongside Max and Pierre is truly remarkable," commented Alonso.

Verstappen's fellow team member Pérez faced consequences for exceeding the pit lane speed limit, resulting in a five-second penalty and a descent to fourth place. As a result, Gasly, who came in third, celebrated his first podium finish since the Azerbaijan Grand Prix in 2021.

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