During the weekend from August 25 to 27, 2023, Formula 1 arrives at the Zandvoort circuit for the Dutch Grand Prix. The Grand Prix represents the thirteenth round of the season four weeks after the Belgian Grand Prix, the twelfth race of the championship. It is the seventh round of the season scheduled in Europe, as well as the fifth in a row. The Dutch Grand Prix is the only round of the season scheduled for August, the first event after the mandatory summer break for teams and drivers, as well as the second race of the second half of the season. Unlike the last seasons, the Grand Prix is placed as the first appointment after the break, and for the first time since the 1985 edition, the event is held in the month of August. The world championship disputes a race on the type of permanent track for the fifth consecutive race weekend. The contract for the inclusion of the race in the world calendar, still on the Zandvoort circuit, was renewed in December 2022 until the 2025 season. To be honest, the 2023 World Championship, having come to this point, has little to tell, as Max Verstappen is first in the Drivers' World Championship standings with 314 points, compared with 189 points for Sergio Perez, who follows him in second place. Just as little has the Constructors' World Championship standings to say, where RBR commands with 503 points, compared to Mercedes' 247 points. Saturday, August 12, 2023, the British team Aston Martin announces the signing, from Red Bull Racing, of Thijs Van Rees, a senior aerodynamicist with the Austrian team for the last two and a half seasons, who has landed in the Milton Keynes team from the German manufacturer Mercedes. Thursday, August 24, 2023, on the eve of the Dutch Grand Prix, the US team Haas confirms the Danish driver Kevin Magnussen and the German Nico Hülkenberg also for the following season. With a combined 346 career Formula 1 starts between them, Hulkenberg and Magnussen’s partnership will continue for a second successive season - the veteran duo having enjoyed a successful working relationship since linking up at the Kannapolis-headquartered team this year. While the 2023 FIA Formula 1 World Championship has seen the team face challenges with its VF-23, both drivers have successfully steered their cars into the points - with Hulkenberg scoring the team’s best finish of the season to-date, a seventh-place effort at the Australian Grand Prix in April. MoneyGram Haas F1 Team currently sits eighth overall in the Constructors’ Championship on 11 points. Commented Guenther Steiner, Team Principal, MoneyGram Haas F1 Team:
"I think it’s safe to say that we’ve had an extremely solid driver pairing this season in Formula 1 and ultimately there was no reason to look to change that moving forward. Kevin is obviously a very well-known quantity to us, and I’m delighted he’ll return for what will be his seventh season in Haas colors. With 113 starts for our team alone, we know where his strengths lie and his knowledge and experience of our organization pairs very well with that too. On the other side of the garage, Nico’s simply slotted in without fuss or fanfare and proved himself to be a valuable member of the team. He’s approaching 200 starts in Formula 1 and we’re very happy to be the beneficiary of that experience behind the wheel. We’ve had to tackle our issues this season with regards to the VF-23, we don’t hide from that, but we’ve been extremely fortunate to have had two drivers whose feedback is invaluable in assisting our engineering objectives. Kevin and Nico gelled well right from the get-go and together they’ve both scored points, and in particular, Nico has excelled in qualifying - getting into Q3 on six occasions. Having not raced in Formula 1 full-time since 2019 that shows you just how professional he is and how he’s looked after himself physically. Of note is also just how much energy both drivers bring to the table, they’ve been fantastic not only in terms of their engagement within the team, but critically, in our partner activations and fan facing opportunities. Kevin and Nico are clearly enjoying their time in the sport, they both have mature heads on their shoulders, and they fundamentally understand what it is we’re asking of them. In turn, now it’s down to us as a team to look ahead to 2024 and ensure we have a car that’s capable of scoring points consistently".
Kevin Magnussen famously arrived in Formula 1 in 2014 scoring a second-place podium on his debut for the McLaren team at the Australian Grand Prix. A stint at Renault followed before his first spell with the Haas outfit (2017-2020). Returning to the team with a barnstorming drive to fifth place at the season-opening Bahrain Grand Prix in 2022, followed by a maiden career pole position at the Sao Paulo Grand Prix later in the season, the Danish racer celebrated 150 career starts in Formula 1 at the Austrian Grand Prix in July 2023.
"I’m obviously very happy to see my relationship with MoneyGram Haas F1 Team extended once again. My return in 2022 had been unexpected but was filled with numerous highlights, and although this season hasn’t gone quite as we’d hoped, we’ve still managed to get into the points and shown potential in the package we have. There’s plenty of racing remaining in 2023 and we’ve got a lot of work to do to continue to understand the VF-23 - that learning can be applied into the 2024 car. My thanks, as always, go to Gene Haas and Guenther Steiner for giving me the opportunity to keep racing in the sport I love".
Nico Hulkenberg returned to full-time Formula 1 competition with MoneyGram Haas F1 Team in 2023 after three seasons as a reserve driver. The German driver will hit the milestone of 200 starts in Formula 1 at the Mexican Grand Prix in October, Hulkenberg holding a resume that includes a total of 530 career points scored and 100 Q3 qualifying appearances. A win at the 2015 24 Hours of Le Mans with Porsche further demonstrated Hulkenberg’s versatility as an accomplished racer.
"It’s nice to get things sorted early for next season to just keep the focus on racing and improving performance. I enjoy being part of the team and share Gene and Guenther's passion for it. We're competing in a very tight midfield and I’m looking forward to building on what we’ve done together so far and taking that forward into 2024".
For this Grand Prix, Pirelli, the sole tire supplier, offers, in light of the technical characteristics of the circuit, the choice between C1, C2 and C3 compound tyres, the type of tire that characterizes the central range of the type of tires made available by the Italian company. Regarding the characteristics of the Zandvoort track and the consequent choice of tyres brought to this track, Mario Isola, Pirelli Motorsport Director, outlines the situation:
"The second half of the season gets underway with a unique race. The Dutch Grand Prix takes place in Zandvoort: one of the most traditionally demanding tracks on the calendar that returned to the Formula 1 schedule three years ago on the wave of all the local support for Max Verstappen, who repaid his fans amply with a pair of victories from the last two races. It's a very twisty track with two banked corners - Turn 3 and Turn 14 - that are steeper than Indianapolis, by way of comparison. On corners like this the stress on the tyres is greater than it would be through normal corners, as the vertical forces increase with the much higher speeds due to the banking. We've brought the same tyres as 2022, at least as far as the names are concerned: C1, C2, and C3. However, the current C1 is actually a new compound for this year, positioned between the C2 and the previous C1, which is now called the C0. Last year, in a race that was characterised by two neutralisations, no fewer than 14 drivers - including the top three - used all three compounds, underlining the wide variety of options available to the strategists on the pit wall".
At McLaren, British driver Lando Norris is keen to return to racing after the summer break and aims to do his best at the Dutch circuit:
"We're back! I had a great time over the summer break, spending time with friends and family, and of course I played some golf too. I'm now feeling refreshed and ready to go racing again as we head straight into a double-header. First up, Zandvoort. It's a really fun circuit to drive with lots of banking allowing for different racing lines. There's always a great atmosphere there as well, which makes the weekend even more exciting. The team have done a great job of improving the car over the first part of the season, and I've been back in the factory this week working with the team to try and ensure we can keep that momentum up. Despite this being a challenging track, we aim to do our best and continue bringing in points for the team".
Andrea Stella, McLaren's Team Principal, after highlighting the improvements of his team in the last few races, outlines his expectations for the race weekend in Holland:
"Summer break is over and it's time to go racing again. It's been good for the Team to take some time off and reset ahead of the final 10 races of the season, after the efforts in the first half of the season. The last four races saw us achieving strong results, but also highlighted some areas where we need to improve. Zandvoort is one of the shorter tracks of the year but dense of interesting corners. The circuit features a unique, undulating nature through the sand dunes and is a challenging course. Thanks to the relentless work of the team, we have made significant improvements since the start of the season, and we aim to start the second half of the season on a positive note".
At Mercedes, Toto Wolff outlines the challenges awaiting his team in this second part of the season and describes the Zandvoort track as demanding:
"It's good to get back to work. The summer break is important for everyone to take some well-deserved time off, but we're racers and we love the thrill of competition. We return recharged and ready for the second half of the season. There is plenty to fight for and we won't be letting up. We will push hard in the battle for second in the Constructors' Championship. We will also be driving development forward for 2024. Those are challenges we are excited for, starting this weekend. Zandvoort is a fantastic place to resume the season. It's a challenging track with an old-school feel; banked corners and high-speed sections undulating through the dunes. There's always an incredible atmosphere with the passionate Dutch fans and it's always a fantastic celebration of our sport. I'm sure this year will be no different and I'm excited to get there".
At Alpine, Bruno Famin, Vice President, is ambitious in declaring that hard work always pays off with improvements:
"I'm sure the entire team enjoyed the recent summer shutdown as it's been an exceptionally busy season so far. Clearly, the weeks leading up to the break were not easy for everyone at the team. It's important now for us to keep our heads down, work hard collectively on improving all areas and aim for our results on track to underline our ambitions. There is no change to the team's strategy or objectives, only a change in some personnel as outlined before the break. Zandvoort is an exciting fresh start for all of us and I'm sure everyone at the team is ready for the challenge".
Esteban Ocon, after having enjoyed a pleasant summer vacation, is ready and enthusiastic to return to racing at the Zandvoort weekend:
"It's been a really enjoyable past couple of weeks with friends and family spent in France. It's always nice to be able to take a breath and recharge the batteries after a very intense first part of the season. I was able to be with those close to me and visit one of my favourite places in the world where we all could relax ahead of a busy time of year for our sport. I kept in touch with the team of course and I know we are all raring to go back to racing this weekend in Zandvoort. During the break, I also took the time to train hard and prepare for the upcoming races and I was in their simulator at Enstone earlier this week. I am ready and excited to get back to it".
Pierre Gasly is confident he can get another good result in Holland after his last performance in Belgium:
"I'm definitely feeling ready to go racing again. It was good to finally have a worthy reward with a trophy in Spa from the Sprint Race in third place. That was a good boost for the team and we have to target more moments like that. That said, the main race was disappointing and a missed opportunity as some things just didn't go our way. That weekend is a kind of example of how my season has been: at times really good and then at times very unfortunate with some levels of performance not being converted into big results. We cannot feel sorry for ourselves, though. All we can do is keep our heads down, work hard and I'm confident the results will follow. We have ten races left to show what we can do to put ourselves back into a more representative championship position in both the Drivers' and Constructors' standings in my first season with the team".
In AlphaTauri, Daniel Ricciardo, after training to improve his fitness, is excited to race in Zandvoort:
"I'm very excited about racing at Zandvoort, mainly to get the second half of the season going. I only got to do the two races before the break, so even if I enjoyed a bit of time off, I spent most of the past few weeks training and enjoying the chance to keep building up my fitness, to be all set to attack the second half of the season. I’ve really enjoyed being back, and the two races with the team have been awesome. Now, I’m very hungry and motivated and feel the way I want to feel. That’s why I’m looking forward to kicking off in Zandvoort, which is a very fast track with an awesome atmosphere".
Yuki Tsunoda concludes:
"I was happy with how the first part of the season ended in Belgium, as it had been a long time since we scored any points. It meant I could go into the summer break in a positive mood, and I’m carrying that motivation as we start the second half of the season this weekend. I started the break by going to the island of Tenerife, just to have a relaxing time, and then after that, I spent six days training in Austria, to ensure I’m in the best possible shape for the remainder of the season. I made a clear split between having a proper holiday and then doing the training, which is much better than trying to combine both. The training went well, I’m feeling fit, relaxed, and ready to go again. It was important to have a few days of complete rest after a busy first half of the year and refocus before returning to a solid few days of training, which is like a reset. I also fitted in some time in the simulator earlier this week to prepare for the next two races. We’ve had two races in Zandvoort in the past, and I even made it to Q3 last year, but I’ve never finished, so that's something I want to put right this weekend. I like the track because it’s technical with some unique features, such as the steeply banked corners and the mix of slow and fast turns. It’s physically quite demanding. I’m not sure how we will perform here because even if Spa went well, much of that was down to the specific nature of the track and even the weather, while Zandvoort is very different - a medium- to high-downforce circuit - but hopefully we can have another good race there. Because the track is very narrow, our main focus will be on qualifying well, which is something we have struggled with a bit so far this season. Let’s wait and see how it goes".
At Williams, Dave Robson, Head of Vehicle Performance, outlines the team's expectations for the weekend at Zandvoort:
"After a short break we are very keen to get racing again. The back to back races in Zandvoort and Monza, which start the second half of the season, are a fascinating pairing. Monza is a low downforce circuit, hosts the second ATA event of 2023, and will use the softest of the Pirelli tyre compounds. In stark contrast, this weekend is a standard event on the short, twisty Zandvoort track with the hardest of the Pirelli tyre compounds. The Zandvoort circuit sits right on the coast but mostly sheltered by the surrounding dunes. The circuit is characterised by heavy banking in several corners, including the final corner, which contains a section of DRS deployment. The overall layout and placement of the kerbs can lead to car damage and the drivers will need to be mindful of the risk-reward trade at this track".
"The circuit places a heavy demand on the tyres and therefore we have some of the hardest compounds available, which should work well here, especially if the track is hot. Overtaking is difficult and so there is a premium on race strategy and suitable management of the tyres. The FW45 worked quite well in Hungary and we will be looking to build on that experience to help consolidate our World Championship position".
Alex Albon is impatient to resume the season:
"It's been nice to have the summer break but I'm looking forward to getting back into the season. Zandvoort is quite an intense race to return to, being quite a tricky and technical circuit with not much room for error, however it's still a very fun track to drive, so I'm looking forward to it. Qualifying is going to be more important than the race I think, as overtaking is quite difficult around there. It's always fun going to Zandvoort as the fans have a lot of energy so it makes for a good atmosphere".
At Ferrari, Frédéric Vasseur, Team Principal, is aiming for a clean weekend to get a good result:
"We have recharged our batteries and are ready to go again. We can do so off the back of a strong showing in Belgium that ended with a well-deserved podium for Charles, which was down to excellent preparation and a race that was well executed in terms of strategy, pace, tyre management and pit stops. Even though we will as usual be focusing on our own efforts, we are well aware that, on a short lap like Zandvoort, the gaps between the teams behind Red Bull will be even closer than at Spa. Qualifying is particularly important at this track and the top ten on the grid will probably be fought out to the thousandth of a second. It will be a very busy weekend and we are aiming for a clean time on track to allow Charles and Carlos to get the maximum out of the SF-23".
Carlos Sainz is motivated to get the maximum potential out of his car:
"I spent time with the family, at the seaside and playing golf, but I’m happy to be back on track, because we have three really busy months ahead of us and I can’t wait to start. If you are driver, the motivation is always there. It’s clear this season that one team, in fact one driver, is dominant. But for those of us in the cockpit, winning is not the only thing at every race. If you can’t fight for that, then you can do it for a podium, or if not a podium then a top-5 finish. Besides that, as a driver you want to see what you can do to affect progress that can be made on the car you are driving. In short, I really don’t lack motivation, because we are the first to love what we do. The track is short and twisty which has pluses and minuses. A lot depends on qualifying. If you can do well on Saturday, then on a track where overtaking is very difficult, you might be able to maintain your good starting position all the way to the chequered flag. But if you start further back, you definitely face a tough Sunday, because there really are very few straight sections here. As usual, but here even more so than in Belgium, it will be vital not to make any mistakes in order to get the most out of our car. We are ready to fight tooth and nail".
Charles Leclerc is motivated to get back on track and is determined to continue the work started in Belgium in terms of managing the key moments of the weekend:
"I enjoyed quality time with family and friends during the break and that helped to reset the mind and prepare for the remaining ten races in this second part of the season. The first half of the year saw all teams, with the exception of Red Bull, going through several highs and lows, especially us. That’s why I think consistency in terms of performance will be our main target for the rest of the championship. I believe that whoever can be first in getting a consistent car will be able to maximise its potential more easily and run at the front on a regular basis. For our part, we have to continue with the work that begun in Belgium in terms of how we execute both qualifying and the race, because that is the only way to get the upper hand over opponents that are very closely matched, from third to tenth place on the grid. I like it, even if it is very narrow and twisty, which is why I like it more in qualifying than in the race. I think Saturday will play a big part in deciding the outcome of the race given how difficult it is to overtake and weather conditions could also be something we will have to deal with. Personally, I can’t wait to put my helmet on and get out on track".
In Aston Martin, Dan Fallows, Technical Director, on the summer break declares:
"The summer shutdown was a unique opportunity to switch phones and emails off and take a proper break, given how stressful and busy the season can be. It's important for everyone in the team to shut off for a bit, relax and recharge, and now we're ready to keep pushing forward in the second part of the campaign".
Regarding team performance, he says:
"Our team has executed the season incredibly well so far and both our drivers have driven extremely well. In Fernando, Lance has a team-mate who is an exceptional driver and who has shown his ability from the outset of this season. Considering the injuries Lance sustained from his cycling accident pre-season and his determined recovery, he's performed very well alongside a formidable team-mate. Both drivers have been absolutely critical in helping us understand where the car needs to be improved".
On the importance of free practice, Dan declares:
"Free Practice is essential to see how the tyres behave and degrade on long runs and on Qualifying runs. However, we have to balance our limited practice time between understanding the behaviour of the tyres and evaluating our upgrades - and we have aerodynamic upgrades to test at Zandvoort. To achieve this balance, we have a baseline practice programme that we run at every Grand Prix, which we adjust accordingly to allow sufficient time for aerodynamic tests".
On the chances of rain over the Dutch weekend, he says:
"Rain during Free Practice will make our job harder, as we will have to make a call on whether our upgrades work based on less running. As much as we want to run as many laps as possible in the rain, we have to weigh up the risk of running in inclement weather with the return that we'll get in data. We want to minimise the chance of damaging parts and if we believe the chance of an incident is too high, we'll elect to keep our drivers in the garage".
Regarding the team's goal for this weekend, he concludes:
"We've been working tirelessly to develop our understanding of the AMR23. We believe we now have a good understanding of the car's weaknesses and we're taking steps to address them. We hope that the performance of the car at Zandvoort, with our latest updates, will confirm we are heading in the right direction and help Lance and Fernando fight for points this weekend".
At Red Bull, Max Verstappen, after enjoying the summer break, is excited to start the second part of the season and to do it on his home race:
"The summer break was really good, I had a decent amount of time relaxing with friends. I'm excited to get going with the second half of the season now and what better way to start than in the Netherlands. It's an amazing track and of course, the fans are incredible there, so I'm definitely excited to get back on track. It looks like the weather could be temperamental there but I don't mind either way, wet or dry, we'll do our best to make sure we score maximum points".
Sergio Perez, after having recharged his energy during the summer break, feels ready to go back to repeating results like the one obtained in the last weekend at Spa:
"I’ve had a great summer break, between being back in Mexico with my family and training hard. I feel fully fresh and ready to go. I’ve been in the Factory with my engineers this week, it’s always good to catch up after the break and we’ve done some very good preparation for the weekend and we’re fully ready for it. I want to pick up where I left off in Spa and be consistently on the podium and challenging for the remainder of the season. Zandvoort will be a tricky race, the field is getting tighter, but we just keep pushing and pushing as a Team and will try to give our very best and deliver a good result no matter what the weather does in Zandvoort".
Friday, August 25, 2023, at Zandvoort the weather is humid, the sun is out but rain is expected for all the weekend. At 12:00 a.m. the first session of free practice gets underway and the drivers get out on track on medium and hard tyres. Magnussen and Tsunoda are the first on track but it is the home hero Max Verstappen who sets the fastest lap in 1'15"393. Aston Martin are back in great shape and have the most comprehensive upgrade package here, with a new floor for starters. Alonso is driving wild bumping across the gravel in turn 12 and setting the second fastest lap while it is a difficult session for Stroll whose car seems to have an engine problem the mechanics are trying to fix. Halfway through the session and every driver switch on the soft tyre and it is the American rookie the fastest for now, but it does not last long because the Mexican driver tops the timesheet in 1'12"814. With nineteen minutes to go Hulkenberg, fresh of his contract extension with the American team, lost the control of his car at Turn 13 and ends up stuck in the gravel: that cause a red flag and the session is suspended. Just over ten minutes on the clock and the session is restarted and all the drivers are back on track; there’s a lot of traffic now and some drivers are complaining about it. When the chequered flag sets the end of the session Max Verstappen is the fastest, followed by Alonso and Hamilton, who complains about a nervous car. Then, there are Sergio Perez, Alexander Albon, Lando Norris, Logan Sergeant, Oscar Piastri, Yuki Tsunoda and Esteban Ocon who closes the top ten. Then George Russell, Pierre Gasly, Daniel Ricciardo, Kevin Magnussen, Valtteri Bottas, Charles Leclerc, Zhou Guanyu, Nico Hulkenberg and Robert Schwarzman. It isn’t a great practice for Ferrari, only P16 and P19 but apparently they focused on gathering data for the race and didn’t try the soft tyres. On Zhou Guanyu's car, the fourth unit was installed for the internal combustion engine, turbocharger, MGU-H and MGU-K. The Chinese Alfa Romeo driver is not penalized on the starting grid as the newly installed components fall within the maximum number set by the technical regulations. The second session of free practice starts at 4:00 p.m. local time, the sun is still out and the weather is even more humid than before. Haas and Aston Martin have been busy, the first trying to fix the front wing of Nico Hulkenberg, the latter solving the engine problem of Stroll’s car. Alfa Romeo’s pair are the first two on track on mediums and hard tyres and Carlos Sainz is back on track after missing the FP1.
Since the start of this session with all the cars on track, traffic is a problem and many drivers are complaining about this issues. Sixteen minutes in and Sergio Perez sets the fastest lap, 0.069s ahead of Hamilton with Russell in third position. A few moments later the session is stopped: Ricciardo and Piastri collided at Turn 3, Piastri lost the control of his car hitting the barrier and later on Ricciardo, trying to avoid the other Australian driver, hit the barrier too. Front and rear wing damage for McLaren to assess and they were a team who had brought some new parts here. The drivers get out of the car safe but Ricciardo his complaining pain in his wrist: on board replays show that he did leave his right hand on the steering wheel when he made impact with the barriers. He is immediately taken to the medical center and later it is declared that he has a fracture on his wrist with an official statement:
"After today’s incident during Free Practice 2 in Zandvoort, in which Daniel Ricciardo hit the barrier at Turn 3, he was brought to the local hospital and further examinations were carried out. An X-ray confirmed he sustained a break to a metacarpal on his left hand, and this injury will not allow him to continue his duties, so he will be replaced by the team’s reserve driver Liam Lawson for the remainder of this weekend. The team wishes him all the best for the quickest possible recovery. Further updates will be released in due course".
The stewards are also investigating the impeding caused by Hulkenberg towards Verstappen. The session restarts and all the drivers are back on track with soft tyres except for the Ferrari pair. Norris is now on top, with a 1'11"330, three tenths clear of Hamilton who is a further tenth clear of Gasly. With less than 20 minutes to go the drivers start with some long runs and race simulation to gather data for Sunday’s race. The times are so close that the top sixteen drivers are within the space of just over seven tenths. The Ferraris still appeared to be struggling, with the eleventh and sixteenth times. Carlos Sainz Jr. was the author of several driving errors. At the end of the practice the order is: Lando Norris, Max Verstappen, Alexander Albon, Lewis Hamilton, Yuki Tsunoda, Pierre Gasly, Sergio Perez, Lance Stroll, Valtteri Bottas and Fernando Alonso closing the top ten. Then, Charles Leclerc, Logan Sargeant, Esteban Ocon, George Russell, Zhou Guanyu, Carlos Sainz, Kevin Magnussen, Nico Hulkenberg, Oscar Piastri, Daniel Ricciardo. During both sessions, Carlos Sainz and Fernando Alonso used a transmission assembly outside the allocation provided for in the technical regulations. Both drivers wll be not penalized on the starting grid as this operation falls within the maximum number allowed by the technical regulations. At the end of the day Lewis Hamilton declares:
"That was a great day for me. I woke up this morning so excited to get back in the car, and from the first lap it felt like we had a good starting point to work from. The first practice session was generally good; we made some changes for FP2, and I'm not sure if we progressed or not from them, so we will deep dive tonight to investigate. Overall, the car is feeling more competitive here, so we want to hold onto that and see if we can extract more for tomorrow".
George Russell, who couldn’t keep up with his teammate’s pace and closed both session outside the top ten, states:
"It felt good to be back in the car after several weeks out of the cockpit. Overall, it's feeling good out there: the race pace was looking strong, and there is plenty of potential in there for qualifying as well, even if it didn't quite show in the headline times for me today. Definitely this was one of our better Fridays and I'm optimistic for the rest of the weekend".
Andrew Shovlin, Mercedes’ Trackside Engineering Director, adds:
"We're all really excited to get back to racing after the break. We've been able to bring a few updates to this race which will hopefully help nudge us in the right direction; certainly, the car seems be working reasonably well".
"We had quite a few test items in the first session which meant we were running new tyres a bit later than normal, as a result the red flag was quite inconvenient to us as we were trying to use new tyres when most of the field was on race runs. The second session was quite clean, the medium tyre was working well but we've got room for improvement on the soft, neither driver felt that they got the best from it so that's something for us to work on overnight. The long runs were okay, we need to find a bit of consistency but the pace looks to be there and the balance is reasonable. Overall, an encouraging day".
Esteban Ocon enjoys the atmosphere here in Zandvoort:
"It's nice to be back behind the wheel after the summer break. I've definitely missed driving a Formula 1 car. Zandvoort is always enjoyable with the amazing atmosphere and it was no different here today. On track, it's been a pretty straightforward Friday where we've just focused on our programme, tried some different things and collected valuable data for tomorrow and Sunday. The car felt good and we have plenty to review tonight to be in better shape for Qualifying. We're focusing on ourselves and what we need to do to come away with a positive result".
Same for Pierre Gasly, who adds:
"It feels great to be back in the car after the summer break and back at this amazing track with its unique atmosphere. It's been fun to put in lots of strong laps and get back in the swing of driving. To finish sixth in Free Practice 2 is very positive for us and means we've had a great start to the weekend. We have some work to do on some finer details as the whole field is extremely tight. Tomorrow, every hundredth of a second will make a big difference in Qualifying. We made a good step between Free Practice 1 and Free Practice 2 and now we need to find a bit more for tomorrow".
Bruno Famin, Interim Team Principal for Alpine, declares:
"Firstly, it's good to be back on track again. It's the first race with a slightly different trackside structure and it's been great to see collaborative work amongst staff members in implementing this new positive system. We have made a reasonable start to the race weekend here in Zandvoort where we've given ourselves a strong base to work from looking ahead to Saturday and Sunday. We have gathered a lot of data to run through to find some set-up changes to put ourselves in contention when it counts. We look forward to taking on the rest of the weekend and building off this good start".
Dave Robson, Williams’ Head of Vehicle Performance, is worried for the evolving conditions of the track due to the weather conditions:
"It was good to get a full day of dry running done under a standard event format. We started FP1 in a good place and with the setup well suited to the conditions. We tried a few things in FP2, and we now need to decide what was better and what wasn’t. The pace of the car wasn't too bad today but it's always difficult to know here as cars don't always get clear laps and the tyres can be tricky to manage. The weather for the next two days is likely to change a bit with a small threat of rain and a change in wind direction. We have a decent baseline, but we will still need to keep on top of the evolving conditions if we are to get a good result on Sunday".
Alex Albon is driving brilliant, allowing the team to get some points during the last few races, and is confident that the team can perform well here in Zandvoort:
"We've seen this before and obviously don't know what everyone else is doing, however the car felt good from the moment we touched down in FP1. It's a bit surprising if I'm honest and I'm sure everyone will make a big step forward tomorrow, but we'll try hold on and keep the position. The traffic tomorrow will be tough, with the need to manage the tyres well but it keeps you on your toes. I don't think today's pace is representative of the field but either way we're still in a good place. It's going to be tight, though I'm feeling quite positive".
Lando Norris, fastest in FP2, is of course satisfied:
"A reasonable day. A nice way to end, in terms of position. We did quite a bit of aero running this morning which cost us a little bit and we couldn't quite focus on what we wanted to do from a pure performance perspective – but we knew that was going to happen, so we understood it. I think we got in a good rhythm and found a reasonable balance with the car. We're looking good on low fuel, but we've got a bit of work to do on high fuel, so that's our target tonight".
Oscar Piastri is confident about his car and thinks that the team can have a great weekend here in the Netherlands:
"A shame to end the day like that, I just went into Turn 3 a bit too quick and lost the rear. It's a shame to have picked up the damage and give the team a long night but their hard work is appreciated. Otherwise, I think the pace looked quite good today. I was feeling pretty good with the car, so we'll try to bounce back tomorrow and have a positive day".
Andrea Stella, McLaren’s Team Principal, hopes to get some points this weekend:
"A trouble-free day on Lando's side that meant we could go through the programme, which included some rake work, aerodynamic evaluations and then understanding of the tyres. On Oscar's side, after a normal FP1 with some rake work too, we had to stop his session early in FP2 due to a spin in Turn 3 that led the car onto the barriers. Oscar missed some information in terms of preparation for qualifying and the race, but his pace was competitive until that point. Overall, we seem to be in a decent place, so we will do our best to be ready for qualifying and the race where we'll try and score some good points".
Daniel Ricciardo was pretty confident with his performance but after the incident he will have to wait a little to come back racing:
"I was very excited to be back after the break. The day was going pretty well. We made some changes for FP2 and the few laps I did on the hard tyre before the crash felt good; we were building up and improving. At that time, we were pretty competitive, and I was feeling positive. I remember coming into Turn 3. I had already gotten into the corner and then saw Piastri, so it was either hit him or the wall. When I hit the wall, I didn’t have enough time to take my hands off the steering wheel, so the wheel came and hit my hand. It's really unfortunate and frustrating, but I’ll try to recover as quickly as I can. Obviously, I’d love to get back soon, but I also want to ensure we do things the right way, so I come back strong and competitive. I wish the team well, and I’m sorry for the change in plans again. It’s a chance for Liam to have a go, and I wish him and the team a strong weekend".
Charles Leclerc isn’t satisfied with the performance of his Ferrari and sees a hard weekend ahead:
"It was a difficult day for us overall. The field seems to be very tight here and there is still quite a lot of pace to be gained, especially on the qualifying runs. We will work hard on that overnight. The weather forecast for tomorrow predicts rain, so that’s something we will have to adapt to".
Carlos Sainz is of the same advice:
"Overall it was quite a tricky Friday for the team and missing FP1 is obviously never ideal. I got up to speed quickly in FP2 but it’s true that this weekend we seem to be struggling for pace and balance overall. This circuit at the moment is not suiting us very well but we’ll work to make a good step forward for tomorrow".
Robert Shwartzman, back in an F1 car after almost an year, declares:
"Our focus for FP1 was to test some aero balance solutions. I'm happy with how I managed to work with the car, because everyone expected it to be challenging. I knew from the beginning that it wasn't a performance run and the team briefed me about the programme and what to expect in advance. I did most of the laps in race mode to see how the car performs lap by lap. We also completed a practice start, which was quite good. It has been a really good experience and the track is super challenging. I have never driven here with the current configuration and the banking. It was also my first experience in the SF-23. I found it interesting and fun. It was a tough session, but we completed it well and collected some data. The car felt quite similar to the way it does in the simulator. It is important for us to understand that relationship, in order to improve the current car and work on next year's one. I'd like to thank Scuderia Ferrari again for the opportunity and I'm looking forward to my next outing later this season".
Max Verstappen is satisfied with this first day at his home track:
"Today was a good day, we tried a few different things on the car. There’s a couple of things we want to fine tune like the balance, but on the whole it was handling well, even on the long runs. The car has a lot of potential so hopefully we can have a good day tomorrow. I’m feeling confident that we can be ahead in qualifying. I’m looking forward to getting back in the car tomorrow, it’s fantastic to see all the orange in the grandstands and around the track, I certainly feel the support".
Sergio Perez is optimistic:
"It was a positive Friday, the grid is looking really tight out there once again. We got plenty of information and got to try all the different compounds on the high fuel which will help the Team. I think it is looking competitive so I’m looking forward to the weekend. We just have to keep the momentum into qualifying tomorrow and get the perfect lap together, qualify where we should and then show our race pace. Our Sunday will depend on how qualifying goes, we have a strong car and if we are where we should be we will be in a good place for the race".
Fernando Alonso is happy about the upgrades on his car:
"The upgrades to the AMR23 feel good, although we didn't complete the programme that we were hoping to - there were a couple of red flags. There was nothing too dramatic on my side and we got good information on Friday, but we still need to analyse everything and put everything together for tomorrow".
Lance Strol, despite the problem he had, is entertained:
"I feel okay after the opening day of practice. We had limited running in FP1 because of the power unit issue, which is a shame as Zandvoort is a great track and a lot of fun, but the issue was quickly resolved by the team so I could return for the second session. We have to look into the data overnight to evaluate the upgrades and come back tomorrow to continue our programme".
Simone Berra, Pirelli Chief Engineer, analyzed everything happened on track:
"All in all, this was a very useful day for us because we were able to gather a lot of data relating to the three compounds we have brought to Zandvoort, both on short and long runs. Compared to last year, we have a new Hard - the C1 - which from what we saw today is degrading much less, even though it was used mainly in FP1 when the track surface was still very dirty and provided very little grip. The relatively cooler temperatures could make the softest compound, the C3, a more plausible race tyre. The situation is therefore very open when it comes to Sunday's tyre choice, which means a more interesting and uncertain weekend is in prospect. In terms of the gaps between the compounds, the rapid track evolution means it is not yet possible to come up with reliable estimates, while one should also consider that the forecast says there is a significant chance of rain, especially for tomorrow, which is another unknown factor to take into consideration".
On Saturday, July 29, 2023, a wet track awaits the drivers as heavy rain hit the circuit right before the start of the final practice session. Max Verstappen is the first to go out with wet tyres, setting a time of 1'27"514, then risking making a contact with the wall. Teammate Sergio Perez follows pushing on the wet track but finishing across the gravel at Turn 12. Both McLarens hit the track with the intermediate tyres, bold choice since the conditions of the track at the moment. And in fact, Kevin Magnussen, who also comes out with the same tyres, spins into the barrier at Turn 3, bringing out an early red flag just 11 minutes into the session. After a seven-minute delay, the session resumes. Charles Leclerc goes out with full wets setting the best time, which is overtaken soon after by Norris, still with the intermediates. But it doesn't take long for Verstappen to score the best time again with a 1'25"197, 1.555s faster than Norris. Another red flag interrupts the session, this time consequence of Zhou going off track on the final turn, getting stuck in the gravel. With only 25 minutes left, Sainz, who hasn't scored a time yet, hits the track but aborts his opening lap as he goes straight into the escape road. On the second attempt, he temporarily places fifth. The track slowly dries up and the McLarens begin to set the pace. Norris signs a 1'25"086, 0.111s faster than Verstappen, followed by Piastri going 0.193s faster than the teammate. Ultimately Norris regains the fastest lap just before another red flag is developed as Liam Lawson spins into the barrier at Turn 14. He still manages to keep the car on track and returns to the pit lane. With eight minutes left, Max Verstappen regains the top spot, setting a time of 1'22"758 and then improving by going down to 1'21"630, 1.148s ahead of George Russell. Perez closes third, follows Fernando Alonso and Lewis Hamilton. Alex Albon goes sixth, then Piastri’s McLaren and Bottas’ Alfa Romeo. Leclerc sets the ninth fastest time, having recovered from multiple off-track excursions at Turn 1. Closes the top 10 Lando Norris, then Pierre Gasly’s Alpine, Sainz, Tsunoda, Sargeant, Hulkenberg, Ocon, Stroll, Guanyu and Magnussen. Saturday’s action in Zandvoort continues in the afternoon with qualifying. The weather is still unstable, even if the sun begins to appear through the clouds. The track is still wet making the choice of tires fall on the intermediates. Before qualifying, the race direction communicated the availability of an additional set of intermediate tires, in light of the weather forecast. An impressive McLaren still proves its potential today with Norris taking the lead of the early stages of Q1 with 1'23"260, followed by teammate Piastri just under half a second. The track slowly dries, causing the times to drop considerably. Five minutes from the end Verstappen is P1, ahead of Piastri, Norris, Russell and Alonso.
At the end of the Q1, an extraordinary Albon manages to get with his Williams on top, setting a 1'20"939, ahead of Verstappen, Piastri, Norris and Sainz. Zhou, Ocon, Magnussen, Bottas and Lawson are knocked out. Q2 begins and the choice of tyres falls back on the intermediates, while the sky seems to portend the arrival of possible rain. Verstappen again marks the best time, 1'20"282, followed by Norris with a gap of 0.347s. Albon scores another great lap (1'19"399) taking the first position, but following a pit for fresh intermediates Verstappen regains the top with a 1'18"856. Piastri sets the second fastest lap, with Albon then dropping to third position. Follows Alonso, Leclerc, Russell, Norris, Perez, Sainz and Sargeant, who for the first time in his F1 career enters in Q3. Knocked out is Lewis Hamilton, who drops behind Stroll and Gasly. The 14th and 15th goes to Tsunoda, Hulkenberg respectively. The final stage of the Dutch Gran Prix qualifying begins. While most of the grid opts for intermediates, Sainz, Russell, Albon and Sargeant start on Soft. The track, however, does not seem ready for slick-tyres yet, in fact Sargeant loses control of his car crashing into the barriers at Turn 2. A red flag stops the session in order to fix them. When it is resumed, there are 8 minutes left to make a time. Norris tops with a 1'12"049s, followed by teammate Piastri and Verstappen. However, qualifying is interrupted again because Leclerc hits the wall at Turn 9. After the delay, there are still 4 minutes left until the end of the session. Verstappen takes pole position with a 1'10"567. Norris earns the second position, followed by Russell, Albon, Alonso, Sainz, Perez, Piastri. Leclerc and Sargeant close the top 10 grid positions for Sunday’s race. Esteban Ocon shows disappointment towards today’s qualifying, but is determinate for tomorrow:
"Unfortunately, it's not been a good day for us today. It's the first time I've been out in Q1 this season, so that is very disappointing. On track the conditions were tricky for everyone and on our side, we struggled in many areas, especially with general stability and in high-speed corners. We have some work to do to analyse what happened today and see what we can do to put ourselves in a stronger position in tomorrow's race. I have started in lower positions before and came back to score points, so that remains the target and we will fight all the way to the end to make our way into the top ten and into the points".
Pierre Gasly, on the same line of thoughts of his teammate, comments:
"I think today could have been better and we're starting outside the top ten for tomorrow with work to do ahead of us. Conditions were not easy out there on the damp track but still very enjoyable and a good challenge to drive. We will review what we could have done better today as there's definitely a few small details that did not click, especially in Q2. As a team, we'll keep working, keep digging and the aim is to score points tomorrow, which I'm sure we can achieve".
Bruno Famin, Alpine’s Interim Team Principal, admits that he thought they could do better:
"It's not been an easy afternoon for the team today with both cars starting out of place from our expectations on tomorrow's grid. We certainly felt we had the pace for more but we have to deliver it better. We will review all the fine details for which we need to improve for next time. For tomorrow we will assess all our options on strategy with the target of giving both drivers the best chance to climb their way back towards the positions scoring points. It will not be an easy race but we will give it our all to come away with something from this race weekend".
George Russell is pretty satisfied and determined for tomorrow:
"That was a great session and I'm happy to be in P3. Qualifying was a strength earlier in the season, but it's been going a bit wrong for me recently, so it was good to get the break, come with some fresh ideas and put ourselves in a good place to fight for the podium tomorrow".
The final lap was pretty okay - we know that we struggle to get temperature into the tyres when it's wet or the crossover to slicks, but that also turns into a strength on Sunday. I'm Max will enjoy his usual Sunday drive tomorrow, but from P3 hopefully we can have a good fight with Lando, Alex and the rest".
On the other side, Lewis Hamilton has had a disappointing qualifying as he didn’t manage to get into Q3, lacking of confidence with his car:
"It wasn't my day today. Since FP1, I've lost some confidence in the car and that made qualifying tricky. It was tough to get the tyres into the working window, I struggled with the balance and overall grip, and George also did a few different settings that seemed to work better. But we know that the car operates in a narrow window, and these things can happen when you are in that situation. On the final run, I did two consecutive laps and the tyres overheated on the second one, so I couldn't improve the time. Tomorrow is a new challenge; hopefully the car will be a bit better on full tanks, and we can make some forward progress. This isn't an easy circuit for doing that - but that will be the goal".
Toto Wolff, Mercedes’ Team Principal & CEO, expresses his mixed feelings on today’s results:
"It was a challenging session, as we know our car is not the strongest when it comes to warming up the tyres in the wet and on the drying track. That means we need to put all the details together and that was hard today. George got the maximum from it to take a second row, so I hope he will be racing for the podium tomorrow. For Lewis, it seemed like he was impeded on every timed lap - including his quickest one - but he also didn't have full confidence in the car today. We will analyse why - but we know as well that we can race stronger than the cars around him, so I hope to see him move forward tomorrow. So, a day of mixed fortunes; but we can take positives from P3 and build from there".
Andrew Shovlin, Mercedes’ Trackside Engineering Director, also comments:
"We're pleased with the P3 start position for George and naturally disappointed we couldn't get Lewis further up. We were struggling for temperature on intermediate tyres in the morning session, George managed to get on top of this, but Lewis was not particularly happy with his balance and finding it hard to build heat in the tyres. Those trends continued into qualifying although Lewis was particularly unfortunate with the number of cars blocking him on fast laps; ultimately it was the lack of a clear lap that prevented him making the final session. We're expecting conditions to improve for tomorrow; our long run pace looked reasonable on Friday so hopefully we can move forward with both drivers".
Fernando Alonso points out the tricky conditions of the track, but is still satisfied of his session:
"It wasn't an easy Qualifying session today in the wet and the dry, so we have to be happy to qualify fifth for tomorrow's race. It was very intense and there was a very small margin for error with the narrow track, so it was very challenging. In these types of conditions, you have no idea what happened in the previous seven minutes you were in the garage, so it can be a little bit of a guess, but we did very well today. The upgrades seem to be working well and it has been a great job by everyone in the Campus who have been working flat-out to bring these updates this weekend".
Mike Krack, Aston Martin’s Team Principal, is pleased with how the drivers have managed qualifying:
"It was another Qualifying session dominated by wet weather and then a drying track, but the team did a great job of managing the sessions. The car balance in these conditions was pretty good, but Lance suffered with some overheating on his final set of Intermediates. It meant he just missed out on a place in Q3 by half a tenth. The red flags created a very disruptive Q3 and Fernando lost two of his flying laps just as he was about to complete them. So, all things considered, qualifying in fifth and 11th place for tomorrow's race is a decent outcome from a challenging session. The AMR23 is working well here in the wet and the dry so we should have a competitive car to fight for strong points in race conditions too".
Dave Robson, Williams’ Head of Vehicle Performance, seems to be positive about the race as both the car and the drivers are performing really well:
"The Zandvoort circuit is a great circuit in the dry, but in the wet conditions, it really becomes an exciting challenge. We made some changes to the car overnight but then reworked the FP3 plan after the rain fell. We were reasonably strong in FP3 but could see that we didn't have the car quite right for those conditions. We were able to make some further changes ahead of Qualifying and these helped us step the performance up another notch in the drying conditions. Both drivers responded to the changing conditions very well and embraced the test that this circuit offers. Qualifying was reasonably calm throughout and whilst it was a shame that Logan ended his Q3 session early, he nonetheless delivered an excellent performance up to that point. He is rewarded with a top-10 start for the Grand Prix tomorrow, which gives him the chance to have a very strong race. Alex was again brilliant in the difficult conditions and was able to complete a very competitive lap at the end of the session. Starting the Grand Prix in 4th place is a great result for Alex and the entire team. The team in Holland and in Grove performed very well today and they have put us in a strong position for the race tomorrow. The weather remains uncertain but however it transpires, we can put up a decent challenge and look to score points with both cars".
Alex Albon is almost surprised by the great performance of the car:
"We were good in FP1, FP2, FP3, and of course thought we'd start dropping back down and that we'd hit our sweet spot early, not playing with the car too much since FP1, but this made me feel confident. So, when you add confidence with a track like this which is so narrow and uncompromising, add in mixed conditions, you really need to feel at one with the car, and I have this weekend. We needed a car that was driveable on the limit and fortunately, our car has been all weekend. There's been a nice headwind through some of the corners, so I definitely think that played a part today and helped us a lot more than normal. We've been quite surprised with our high downforce performance this weekend, so hopefully we can deliver on it tomorrow".
Logan Sargeant has mixed feelings toward today’s qualifying:
“I have mixed emotions and it's definitely bittersweet. To make Q3 is a huge thing for us. There are so many positives to take; the team and car have been fantastic all weekend and I delivered good laps when they counted in Q1 and Q2 to get there. It felt like we had a good chance going into a dry last session, and Alex proved that with his result, but it's fine margins in these conditions. I need to look back and see what went wrong, but not dwell on it because our long run pace here has been great. We'll get the car rebuilt as close as we can and try to score some points. I've personally seen progress the entire European leg and I know it is just a matter of time; I'm really close now, starting to understand how to extract the time from the car and that's what makes today even more painful”.
I'm disappointed to leave the team with a damaged car but I'll reset, help the team and we'll go again tomorrow".
Mario Isola, Pirelli Motorsport Director, comments how the tyres have performed in today’s condition:
"It was a spectacular qualifying, which is often the case when track conditions change very quickly. In the end, Max Verstappen did it again, but it's worth noting there are six different teams represented in the top six places, a sign that Formula 1 is in rude health despite the dominance of one driver and one team. Tomorrow's race will have two sides to it. On the one hand, Max Verstappen is the clear favourite, while on the other, it is impossible to say who else could finish on the podium. In terms of strategy, there are several options on the table, both in terms of the number of stops where the choice is between two or one, and in terms of choice of compound. This variety is down to several factors. First and foremost, our Hard tyre here is the C1, which has been modified for this year and, while degrading very little offers more grip than its predecessor. Then there is the weather with cool temperatures facilitating the use of the Medium and Soft compounds. Finally, there's the fact that there is a wide choice in terms of types of tyre. The number of stops can also vary depending on the characteristics of the cars and the choices made when it comes to aero downforce levels. Those who favour track position will most likely opt for a single stop, using a combination of C2 and C1. Those who believe they have what is needed to be competitive when it comes to overtaking, will go for the two stops, favouring the use of the Medium and Soft. Added to this is the unknown factor concerning the weather, even if the forecast is for something dryer than what we saw today. All these factors combined point to it being a very interesting race tomorrow".
Carlos Sainz Jr. explains he has struggled to put together a good qualifying:
"Our performance this weekend hasn’t been great and we knew it was going to be a challenging qualifying. We managed to get through to Q3 and put together some decent laps for P6 but it’s obviously not where we want to be. Tomorrow it won’t be easy either, but be sure we will do our maximum to defend the position and bring home the best result possible".
Charles Leclerc agrees with his teammate:
"It has been a difficult weekend so far and we have struggled with our car balance since the first session. We will look into it and try to improve the car to make it more predictable. It will be a tough race for us tomorrow, trying to fight our way up to the front. Let’s see what’s possible".
Frédéric Vasseur, Ferrari Team Principal, remarks how tricky the condition were, knowing tomorrow will be a not so easy race:
"It was a very busy qualifying, as is always the case when it starts on a wet track but with no rain falling, because the track evolves continuously and so it’s vital to be out on track all the time. Carlos and Charles made it through to the final phase, performing very well in Q1 and Q2. Then in Q3, although the track was completely dry, conditions were still very tricky: Carlos managed to post a pretty good time, while Charles made a mistake, ending up in the barrier having gone off the dry line, which can unfortunately happen in these circumstances. Tomorrow’s race will not be easy for us, given how difficult it is to overtake and how close everyone is, but in our long runs we saw signs that lead us to believe we can make up places".
Max Verstappen, who has managed a perfect qualifying, is happy to have achieved pole in front of the home crowd:
"Qualifying in these conditions on new tarmac can be quite tricky but that last lap was very enjoyable. It’s all about putting in good laps and staying out of trouble. We’ve had wet conditions at the last few races but it’s the first time here in Zandvoort, the wind and drying track played a big factor in Q3 and turn one on my final lap was a bit tricky, but the Team made all the right calls today. The pressure's always there to perform in front of your home crowd but when you can pull it off it feels incredible. To be on pole here feels great and we have a very strong car for tomorrow, let's see what we can do".
Sergio Perez, on the other side, has had a more difficult session:
"It was a challenging qualifying today, with the changeable conditions and amount of red flag time. I definitely wanted to be a lot higher up, especially for the race because it is not an easy track to overtake around. It was very tricky out there, especially towards the end and the strategy we took in Q3 was probably not ideal in hindsight. At the time we thought it was the best to do a double push but I think doing a single timed lap would have been better for the tyre. We just have to look forward now, we have a great race car, we had very strong race pace on Friday and in the simulations so hopefully we are able to make some good progress tomorrow. I want to keep the momentum from before the summer break going, we should be able to really come through the field and deliver the podium".
Christian Horner, Red Bull’s Team Principal and CEO, comments both drivers’ sessions:
"Today was a continually moving target with the constantly changing conditions and there were moments where we thought it could get away from us. The biggest wobble we had with Max was when he went straight on in Q1 on his first lap. The next he got blocked and we had an eye on the weather hoping we weren’t going to miss out, we just needed to get one lap on the board and thankfully the next lap he managed to, he just struggled to get the temperature into the tyres initially. In taxing conditions like this, there was a lot of debate around when to run, which tyres etc, and with the added pressure of a home race for Max, it’s hard not to feel the expectation of the crowd, the noise and the hype, but the way Max manages that is truly remarkable. Once again the whole Team did a fantastic job in reading the conditions, preparing the car and getting it right for the lap when it mattered, and that last lap was classic Max, truly lightning. Checo aborted his first lap to push on the second as he could feel the track evolving but didn’t quite have the confidence that Max had today in those difficult conditions and we saw a lot of drivers making mistakes. We’ve got a really mixed up grid in the top ten but we know Checo can race well from seventh and it’ll be an interesting race tomorrow".
Lando Norris is very pleased and satisfied of the second place:
"P2 was a good result in these conditions. Every now and again you hope Max makes a mistake and he doesn't. Frustrating in a little way but I'm very happy! The team's done a good job. It was a chaotic qualifying but another P2, so a good start to being back in the car. The first half of the lap was mega, the second half was probably one of the worst second halves of a lap that I've done! I've always enjoyed these conditions, it's when we do well. So, I'll take P2. I think there's quite a bit of tyre degradation here and not our forte when it comes into play: we start to struggle quite a bit in certain corners. But we've improved the car quite a bit since Friday, so I want to be a little bit more hopeful. There are opportunities, but it's going to be tough. We had a tricky Spa, but still finished P7, and we come to a track which we know suits us a bit more and we proved it today again. So, the team has done an excellent job, they've really made a massive step forward from where we were to where we are now. And days like this, when you reward them, is always a good thing. So, we'll keep pushing. I keep saying we're not far away, but at the same time, we're still quite far. So yeah, we'll keep our heads down".
His teammate Oscar Piastri shows his disappointment knowing he could have achieved more today:
"Eighth in qualifying, a bit of a disappointing end to what was otherwise a good session. It's a shame to be a bit further back than I'd like, I just think I paid a little bit for not getting the laps in yesterday's practice sessions, especially when it dried-up today. The car had good pace and felt good which is pleasing so we'll see what we can do tomorrow and hopefully score some decent points to start the second half of the year".
Andrea Stella, McLaren’s Team Principal, is satisfied with both drivers’ today’s work:
"It was a busy qualifying with conditions that kept changing all the way through the session. The team and the drivers made good decisions, being out on track with the right tyre at the right time, which allowed us to make it with two cars in Q3 and fight for the front positions of the grid. In Q3, Lando put together a clean lap on dry tyres, even if he wasn't completely happy, but this is normal without having many references. On Oscar's side, after a strong first run on dry tyres, he struggled to find the rhythm going onto the second set. We can't forget that not only is Oscar a rookie at this track in a Formula 1 car but also yesterday he had limited running in dry due to the incident. Overall, we start the race from strong positions. We're now going to analyse and prepare for tomorrow, to try and score good points".
After a rain-affected final practice and qualifying, everyone is ready for race day. The track is dry, even if the sky is quite full of dark clouds. Few changes are made to the starting order before the start: Tsunoda from 14th is now 17th and this promotes Hulkenberg, Zhou and Ocon. The Japanese driver has received a penalty for impeding Hamilton in qualifying; Magnussen will start from the pit lane due to power unit and gearbox changes. This means that the debutant Lawson has gained a spot. Just before the lights go out, everyone gets to know that 18 of the 20 drivers will run on soft compound tyres. The two remaining are Hamilton and Hulkenberg, who opted for the mediums. At 3:00 p.m. local time the race begins and pole-sitter Verstappen immediately grows his advantage into Turn 1, ahead of Norris, Albon, Russell and Alonso, who makes a double move on the two British racers at Turn 3. There are spits of rain which suddenly turn into hard raining, so Perez, Leclerc, Gasly, Zhou, Tsunoda, Lawson and Magnussen pit to swap their slicks for intermediates; bad for the Monegasque as the Ferrari team seemed tehy were not prepared to change tyres on his car.
"If you can live with it, stay out".
The Red Bull say to Verstappen, but immediately after they tell him to prepare to pit, while Alonso gets the jump on Norris, with Russell holding fourth from Albon and Sainz. Russell, Norris, Albon, Piastri, Stroll, Bottas, Hulkenberg, Hamilton and Sargeant stay out on slicks for another lap, while Perez takes the lead. On lap 3, only Russell, Albon, Piastri, Stroll, Bottas, Hulkenberg and Sargeant are still on slicks, and Perez has a 12-second advantage over Zhou, Gasly and Verstappen. The home hero passes Gasly and Zhou in quick succession to climb back up to P2 and try to get Perez. Zhou is incredibly third ahead of Gasly, Alonso and Sainz, who tries to do his best as his team mate Leclerc is struggling with a front wing damage after a contact with Piastri. Tsunoda is eighth despite a slow pit stop, while Magnussen, who startes from the pit lane, is now ninth. A round of second stops starts and the drivers who pit are Magnussen, Hamilton and Stroll on lap 11, swapping back to slicks from intermediates; Russell is told that other rain is expected in minutes. Piastri, who is still on his starting set of softs, is doing great times as the track gradually dries up, so everyone changes intermediates for slicks. Sargeant loses control of his Williams at the exit of Turn 8 and hits the barriers, triggering a Virtual Safety Car and then a full Safety car.
The top-ten order is now Verstappen, Perez, Alonso, Gasly, Sainz, Zhou, Magnussen, Albon, Ocon and Tsunoda; Gasly passed Sainz down the start/finish straight after his stop, but then he is given a five-second time penalty for speeding in the pits. Norris is 11th after starting on the front row, followed by Leclerc, Hamilton and Piastri, who stopped for a second set of softs; Russell is 18th and asks:
"How did we mess this up?"
Over the radio. On lap 21 the Safety Car goes out and the race resumes, with Verstappen keeping his lead. Piastri falls behind Bottas to 15th, while Albon passes Magnussen for P7. Ocon passes Magnussen, Tsunoda and Zhou, while Piastri steals again P14 from Bottas into Turn 1, before both the Australian and Hamilton dispatch Leclerc. By Lap 27, Verstappen’s lead over team mate Perez is up to three seconds, with Alonso third ahead of Gasly, Sainz and Albon; Zhou, Tsunoda and Norris are out the points.
"Darker clouds are coming in".
Verstappen says and the same thing is told to in Leclerc. Norris and Hamilton pass Zhou, while Magnussen drops back to 13th, ahead of team mate Hulkenberg. On lap 40, Verstappen leads Perez by almost seven seconds, Alonso is four seconds further back in third, and Gasly in fourth, ahead of Sainz and Albon. Further back, there is some action between Leclerc and debutant Lawson, before Ferrari call the Monegasque into the pits to retire due to floor damage. Norris and Sainz pit on lap 43 and 44 respectively, Albon stops for the first time on lap 45. Perez pits on lap 46, while the leader Verstappen extends his stint for four more laps, and Alonso loses out to Sainz due to a sticky front-left tyre. After the stops, Verstappen is still in the lead, while Sainz holds the final podium spot ahead of Alonso, Gasly, Tsunoda and Russell, who gained a lot of spots after his early switch to hard tyres. Alonso takes back P3 down the start/finish straight, and Russell does the same on Tsunoda a few moments later for the sixth position. Tsunoda drops out of the points, falling behind Ocon and Norris: on the radio he says to have some damage and stewards confirm as they are looking into an incident involving him and Russell. Verstappen is told that more rain will arrive in the final 10 minutes, while Hamilton passes Norris and Ocon for P8 and soon arrives behind his team mate Russell’s tail; the younger Briton moves aside after saving a huge slide through the high-speed sweeps, while Gasly passes Sainz around the outside of Turn 1. On lap 61, the rain suddenly arrives, so the majority of the field immediately go into the pits and swap their slick tyres for intermediates.
Ocon is the only driver to take on full wets, Verstappen remains in P1, while Perez goes too deep at Turn 1, suffers a half spin and lightly touches the barrier, allowing Alonso to slip ahead. Zhou slides off the track approaching Turn 1 and a Virtual safety car is out: the Red Bull pair pit for full wet tyres, before the VSC turned into a red flag on lap 65. Perez is in the pit lane when the red flag comes out and drops down to sixth on the timing screens, behind Gasly, Sainz and Hamilton, who also has a moment at Turn 1 and goes the gravel. A message from Race Control says that Perez will be third in the restart order, behind Verstappen and Alonso, with Gasly fourth from Sainz, Hamilton, Norris, Russell, Albon and Piastri. A five-second time penalty is given to Tsunoda for causing an incident with Russell and a 10-second sanction to Lawson due to unnecessarily impeding Magnussen in the pit lane. After a 40-minute delay, the remaining 17 drivers go back on intermediate tyres for a rolling start, and two laps behind the Safety Car, after which Verstappen mantains the lead over Alonso and Perez. The stewards hand Perez a five-second time penalty for speeding in the pit lane, while Russell manages to get ahead of Norris and runs P7, before they collide and the Mercedes man reports damage. Despite everything, Verstappen crosses the finish line and takes his ninth straight win and 11th from 13 races so far this season. Alonso finishes second, taking the Driver of the Day award, while Perez’s penalty promotes Gasly to third for his first podium of the season, after finishing third in the Sprint race at Spa-Francorchamps.
Sainz beats Hamilton to fifth after a close battle in the closing laps, while McLaren duo Norris and Piastri and Albon and Ocon round out the points, giving Alpine a double points finish after their recent managerial changes. Stroll finishes 11th, followed by Hulkenberg, Lawson and Magnussen. Bottas had a quiet race and ended 15th, with Tsunoda and Russell finish in 16th and 17th respectively. Zhou, Leclerc and Sargeant are the DNF of the race. Max Verstappen took the following ninth victory on home soil:
"I feel extremely proud to win the Dutch Grand Prix again and to win nine in a row is a massive achievement, I never thought it would be possible. It’s always amazing to be here and the National anthem before the Grand Prix really gave me goosebumps. Of course, there were a lot of hectic moments today with the rain coming in, the race was all about trying to stay calm and make the right calls at the right time and we did just that. There was a fantastic atmosphere here all weekend and being at my home Grand Prix with all the fans makes this win feel even more special. I think everyone was completely soaked after that downpour and still they were listening and dancing to music and having a great time".
Sergio Perez pit at the end of the opening lap, then had a healthy lead over his team mate. When the late rain came, he hit the barriers at Turn 1, so went back to the pits and emerged third until a time penalty for speeding in the pit lane costed him the podium:
"It was such an unfortunate afternoon in the end, especially with the later calls, we got the first one right and then when we boxed for the inters things weren’t ready because I had to make such a late call due to the rain suddenly falling. When I was coming into the pitlane to box for inters it was completely flooded, I lost traction in the car and ended up clipping the wall and sliding a little which put me over the speed limit. You know a lot more after the race but overall it’s an okay result given the chaos of the afternoon. The Team always know the wider picture when they are making decisions in the race and I don’t have all the information in the car, that’s why we have strategists and everyone makes the calls in the interest of the Team. We had good pace and definitely deserved a podium today, so it’s a shame we didn’t make it".
Christian Horner is satisfied with the race the team had:
"The rain was on and off throughout the whole race, but Max did an amazing job in the tricky conditions. He had an incredible drive having to come back through the field after his first pit stop, with some drivers staying out on the slick tyre and others pitting for the inters. Once everything settled down, he was able to build a lead and had everything under control. We knew the heavy rain towards the end was coming and when you’re in first place you have everything to lose, but Max had a great restart and secured first place with an excellent drive. Checo made great progress coming from seventh on the grid and made a superb call to switch to the inters towards the start, the Team reacted super-fast and he took lead of the race. During the next cycle of pit stops, as the track started to dry, we had to bring Max in to avoid getting undercut. Sometimes you have to make big calls for the Team and that was one of those moments. It’s a shame we couldn’t have Checo up on the podium following his penalty, as he deserved to be there but with a race with so much drama and jeopardy there’s always things that we can reflect on. In all the Team had a very strong day and for Max to match Seb Vettel’s record of nine consecutive victories it’s incredible. The fact that we’ve achieved it twice now as a Team is something very special to us".
Fernando Alonso pit for inters at the end of the second lap. Then, he ran behind the Red Bull pair and ended second:
"It's a nice feeling to be back on the podium after a very intense race and some intense emotions. I think P2 and fastest lap was the maximum we could have achieved today with the heavy rain and the red flag".
"It was a very well executed race by our team and it means a lot in front of the passionate fans here in Zandvoort. The AMR23 responded well to everything today and I was in sync with it, it was a good feeling. I'm probably happier now than I was scoring podiums at the beginning of the year because after we struggled for podiums in July, coming back strong feels incredible. I cannot lie, I thought about passing Max [Verstappen] and if I was side by side with him I wouldn't have lifted off, but I did not have the full chance. You need some intuition sometimes in the race and there was a bit of rain so I attacked very aggressively. Now I'm looking forward to Monza".
Mike Krack, Aston Martin’s Team Principal, has good feelings about this race, as they also broke the 200-point barrier for the first time ever:
"What a race! A fantastic second place for Fernando and the team. Fernando delivered a well-judged race, survived the tricky conditions, and showed strong pace in the wet and the dry. This result will mean a huge amount to the entire team at track and back at the Campus, and shows our hard work is paying off. It means we have broken the 200-point barrier for the first time and gives us real momentum going into the final races of the year. It is a shame we did not optimise the race for Lance and the decision to remain on dry tyres in the early stages cost him a chance of scoring points".
Great result for Gasly, who earned his first podium of the season:
"What a race! It feels really good to be on the podium here in Zandvoort and the entire team deserves this. After the season we have had so far, so many ups and downs, I do feel we deserve this result. It was an insane race, so much action, so many tough calls to make but everything went well, from the decision making to the strategy to the pit-stops, it was all very well executed. We had the unfortunate five-second penalty for speeding in the pit lane, but in the end that did not matter as we still had enough pace to put ourselves in contention for a good result. It was a tough final few laps with the conditions, but we managed it very well. Thanks to the entire team for his podium, and let's keep up the hard work looking ahead to next weekend's race in Monza; where I have fond memories".
Esteban Ocon opted for the full wet tyre in the late rain, but a slow pit stop and the red flag made him come home on the fringes of the points:
"First of all, congratulations to Pierre and the whole team for today's great result. Overall, we can be happy with our race as a team, leaving Zandvoort with double points and the podium. On my side, it was a solid recovery drive from where we started, fighting my way to well within the points. We will definitely need to review a few things as there were some opportunities missed which cost us some positions and some points. Generally, there will be many learnings from the last few days which I hope we can take to Monza next week to keep improving as a team".
Bruno Famin, Alpine’s Interim Team Principal, hopes the team will maximise the results also in Monza:
"With the weather conditions today, it was important for the team to remain calm and make the right calls. Doing so allowed the drivers to advance up the order from their qualifying positions and bring home valuable points for the team. It was about being on the right tyre at the right time, as well as keeping the car on track and the drivers drove a very mature race. Operationally we executed the race extremely well and Pierre's podium is a reward for the team's efforts. Together with tenth for Esteban, it's good to have both cars finishing in the points. We still have lots of work ahead of us and we will look capitalise on this result heading to the next race in Monza".
Leclerc, on the first lap, made contact with Piastri; this damaged his floor and, when he finished on the gravel, was forced to retire:
"It was a tricky race on my side. When I arrived at the last corner on lap 1, I saw how much rain was coming down and decided to call for a pit stop. I knew it was a late one, but at the same time, I also knew that it would be worth it in the end, because we had more to gain than to lose there. Unfortunately, after Oscar (Piastri) and I touched, I had damage on my floor and the issue got worse over the course of the race, ultimately leading to us retiring. It’s not been the weekend we wished for overall, but I’m already looking forward to our home race in Monza next week".
Carlos Sainz Jr. lost out in a duel with Gasly and that cost him a chance of a podium:
"We had a good race execution overall with no mistakes in these difficult conditions. For the last stint we had to fit a very used set of Intermediates from yesterday and it was all about defending. I gave absolutely everything from the first lap to the last but unfortunately P5 was the maximum we could achieve this weekend. It’s good points and we have gained ground over Mercedes and McLaren, on a difficult weekend for the team. We obviously want more and we will keep pushing. Now I’m looking forward to our home race at Monza next weekend".
Frédéric Vasseur, Ferrari’s Team Principal, adds his thoughts:
"It was definitely a busy weekend, run in very difficult conditions. Carlos drove a great race, managing to match the pace of those ahead up until the rain returned. At that point he had to deal with the handicap of running Intermediates that had done more laps than those of the drivers around him and he did well to keep two strong competitors, Lewis Hamilton and Lando Norris, behind him, thus bringing home the best result possible in these circumstances. Charles’ race was compromised on the opening lap, when there was the collision with Oscar Piastri, which caused damage on his SF-23. We felt it would be enough to change the front wing but unfortunately, the floor was also damaged and that got worse with every passing lap, to the point that we decided to retire him. Now we focus on Monza, our home race, where we want to execute the weekend perfectly from every point of view so that the drivers can get everything there is to be had out of our package".
Hamilton was one of the only two drivers who started on mediums, and when pitted for inters started to recover up through the field:
"I didn't really know how today was going to go - last night, I was wracking my brain about where we went wrong in qualifying and how we ended up P13, and how to climb back up. I wanted to start the race on an offset tyre compound, but then it turned out I was the only one in the field on a different tyre - and then the rain came. As a team, we made the wrong decision and paid the price, coming out last. After that, I just got my head down and I was chasing; it was a great example that when you fall or stumble, just get back up and keep trying. Each time I pitted, I came out behind, and kept chasing and chasing. I was really happy - I passed the McLaren, for example, which isn't easy at this track. And then at the end, I just needed DRS to pass Sainz, because I was quicker but didn't have the speed on the straight to do it. But overall, it's a feeling of what could have been: if we'd made different calls, we had the pace to challenge the top two. We weren't far off in the dry - and it would have been good to be in that fight".
Russell ran well despite some contact with Tsunoda until the late rain. Then he picked up a puncture fighting with Norris and dropped down to last:
"That was a tough one today - I went into the race expecting to fight for a podium and I ended up P17. We were expecting the rain to say for just a few minutes, and it ended up being close to ten. It was ready for inters but I thought I could brave it out for another lap or two if it was only going to be short - but that's not what happened. We'd rather have a fast car and a bad day than the opposite, but it was a missed opportunity today. At the end, I was side by side with Lando into the chicane at the end of the lap, then we had contact. It cost a few points and it was a shame because we had such a fast car today, then our decisions on the weather went against us. But there are still positives to take away from the base pace we showed. We knew this circuit could be strong for us - and looking to Monza, it's a totally different beast. We will clear our heads, go in with some new ideas and the learnings from this weekend, and see what we can do".
Toto Wolff, Mercedes’ Team Principal & CEO, is aware of the fact that they have to understand a lot of things before the next race in Monza:
"That was a difficult day for us. In the opening 15 laps, we got pretty much everything wrong that we could have done - and that cost us any chance of fighting for the podium. For the next 50 laps until the red flag, it was pretty much business as usual: the car was quick on every tyre compound, we made the right calls and the drivers did a great recovery to P6 and P8. In the final laps, George was unlucky to fall to the back after contact, while Lewis tried everything he could on Sainz but there was no way past. In the end, I'd rather we have a quick car and a bad result, than the other way round. It was an entertaining race for Formula One - and the kind of day when we should have been part of the action at the front. But if, but and maybe don't count for anything in this sport. Now, we need to regroup, understand why we as a team got things wrong today, and go again in Monza next weekend".
Andrew Shovlin, Mercedes’ Trackside Engineering Director, explains why the car can still considered good during this weekend:
"Not a good day for us. We didn't anticipate how heavy the early shower was going to be which meant we'd dropped both cars to the back from the very early stages. The decisions we took after that, however, were good, and we managed to get both cars back into a reasonable position when the race got red flagged. Unfortunately, Lewis couldn't find a way past Sainz in the short intermediate stint at the end and George picked up a puncture fighting Norris, so we leave here with just eight points, making it our worst points score of the season. However, we can take encouragement from the fact the car has been good this weekend. Although we've struggled in certain conditions, the pace in the race was strong and we're going in the right direction. We're very happy that we'll get to hit the track again in five days' time as we will be wanting to put this result behind us".
Norris had a good start, but hadn’t the right call when the rain came, so dropped out of the top 10:
"If I start by looking at the final positions, we got some points, which is a good thing but not as many as we should have got today. We made some incorrect decisions and on a day like today, that can win or lose you a lot of time. We were just on the losing end. We'll review it, we'll make sure we do a better job next time. I think it's impossible to be perfect with this, it's just about limiting your mistakes. We've got some work to do but we're getting there".
Oscar Piastri ended ninth:
"P9, not the most straightforward of afternoons. I think we maybe could have taken a few more opportunities that were there but all-in-all not a terrible afternoon and definitely some things to learn from. At one point it was looking a lot worse so it was a nice comeback in the second half of the race and we'll definitely learn what we could have done a bit differently before heading to Monza with the goal of scoring more points".
Andrea Stella, McLaren’s Team Principal, admits that the car is overall competitive:
"After a busy race, with changing weather conditions, we finish P7 and P9, scoring some important points. But the reality is we could have got more today as we missed a couple of opportunities. With Lando, we hesitated too much at the start of the race before pitting for Intermediate tyres. On Oscar's side we opted to stay out through the rain on dry tyres, where he did an excellent job. From there his race was unfolding well, but unfortunately he locked the front tyres, needed to pit and we lost the advantage gained. We don't give up. The good news is that the car was, again, quite competitive. So we will review where we could have improved and go again in Italy".
Alex Albon stayed out initially and then worked his way through the field, pulling off some great overtakes to climb back to eighth place:
"You could argue we should've pitted earlier at the start of the race, but we stuck to our guns and it worked for us with tyre management, managing for 40 odd laps on the Softs, and you can only do that with a car that's good and it felt strong all weekend. It was very easy to control the front and rear degradation, just with tools and driving, always able to shift the balance where I needed it to be. Then we pitted for Mediums and begun making our way up the order towards P5 and P4 and I thought it was perfect, until I found out about the rain. We need to review that second pitstop call; it's so tricky because I didn't pit and for the first half of the lap I thought I'd overcut the two cars in front of me but in 30 seconds it went from a soft to a full wet tyre and we lost out on the undercut. It happens; it feels like we finish today slightly disappointed we didn't finish in 6th, but 8th is still an amazing result for us, especially considering we're here on merit this weekend. It's been our strongest weekend yet and the best I've felt in the car in my time at Williams, so there's so many positives to take from here".
Lawson, in his debut race, is satisfied with how everything went:
"The aim was to do all 72 laps today. When I first got on the grid and it started raining, it wasn’t the best feeling. After that, we had no choice but to make the pitstop but unfortunately, we got a penalty and lost a huge amount of time during it. I think once we got clean air during the second half of the race and then driving on the intermediate tyres at the end, my pace wasn’t so bad. There’s some work to do, but I’m just happy to have gotten through the race, experiencing different conditions and scenarios, to be able to take them forward".
Mario Isola, Pirelli Motorsport Director, analyzes the race and the strategies put into place by the teams:
"It was a very spectacular race, with several changes in the weather which made life difficult for the teams when it came to deciding on which tyre to use and when to pit. From a purely technical point of view, apart from the literally colourful sight of having all five our tyre colours being used, two aspects are worth highlighting. As expected over the course of the weekend, the cooler temperatures favoured the use of the Softs, clearly the best tyre in the dry, even coping well in wet conditions, as demonstrated by the drivers who chose not to pit in the opening laps when it started to rain. The compound most affected was the Hard, but the long stint from Russell, who would probably have run to the chequered flag if the rain had not returned, demonstrated that this tyre was not totally unsuited to the conditions. The second point to underline concerns the Intermediate, which once again proved to be competitive with either a little or a lot of water on the track. Finally, there are various people I wish to congratulate: Max Verstappen for his ninth consecutive win, the Zandvoort spectators who once again put on an amazing show in the grandstands, their enthusiasm so contagious despite the bad weather, Fernando Alonso back on the podium, as he had been doing regularly at the start of the season, at one point even looking to challenge for the win and to Pierre Gasly who produced a really great result".
The next stop on the 2023 F1 calendar will be Monza for the Italian Grand Prix weekend, which takes place from September 1-3.