The thrill of the F1 Dutch Grand Prix at Zandvoort took an unexpected turn as a torrential downpour struck during lap 61 out of the anticipated 72 laps. The sudden deluge prompted all the racers to switch to intermediate or full wet tires to tackle the slippery conditions that had turned the track into a waterlogged challenge.
However, even with the rain-ready tires, the drivers found themselves grappling with the treacherous conditions, particularly at Turn 1 hairpin. The unfortunate victim of these challenging circumstances was Zhou Guanyu of Alfa Romeo, who found himself aquaplaning uncontrollably off the track and crashing into the Tecpro barriers. The incident triggered the deployment of the Virtual Safety Car initially, but as 65 laps were completed, the situation was deemed serious enough to warrant a red flag, temporarily suspending the race.
At the pivotal moment when the red flag waved, the local hero Max Verstappen, racing for Red Bull, was commanding the race from the front. Meanwhile, Verstappen’s teammate, Sergio Perez, had a slightly less fortunate encounter with Turn 1 before Zhou’s mishap, relinquishing his second-place position to Aston Martin’s Fernando Alonso.
Perez’s misadventures continued as he pitted for full wet tires just as the red flag emerged, causing him to plummet down the ranks to sixth place. However, in a twist of fate, FIA’s race control announced that the restart order would be determined based on the positions from the lap just prior to the red flag, giving Perez a chance to regain his third-place standing.
As the race paused, the lineup for the impending restart became clearer. Alpine’s Pierre Gasly was slated to kick off from fourth position, trailed by Ferrari’s Carlos Sainz, Mercedes’ iconic Lewis Hamilton, and McLaren’s rising star, Lando Norris. The top 10 was rounded out by Mercedes’ George Russell, Williams’ driver Alex Albon, and the second McLaren of Oscar Piastri, according to the officially published restart order.
The rain, which had played a major role in the unfolding drama, had not only disrupted the latter stages of the race but also created a strategic split among the teams. As the rain was initially predicted to ease up swiftly, some drivers, including Albon and Piastri, gambled and stuck to dry tires. Meanwhile, most teams made the sensible choice to switch to intermediate tires, capitalizing on the grip they offered on the increasingly drenched track. By lap 11, the track started drying up, prompting those on intermediates to consider when to shift back to slicks.
The race was further punctuated by a safety car period due to an unfortunate incident involving Williams’ driver Logan Sargeant at Turn 8. The action-packed day also saw Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc retiring from the race following a collision with Piastri during the opening lap. Although Leclerc soldiered on initially, his car’s worsening floor damage forced him into the pits for an unscheduled stop, ultimately leading to his early departure from the race.
As the rain eventually subsided just before 5:00 PM local time, the racing world held its breath in anticipation of the restart, which was announced for 5:14 PM. When the race recommences, the drivers will be mandated to use intermediate tires for the rolling restart, adding another layer of intrigue to this already gripping saga.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about Rain-soaked Race
What caused the red flag during the F1 Dutch Grand Prix?
The heavy downpour during lap 61 led to treacherous conditions, causing Alfa Romeo’s Zhou Guanyu to aquaplane off the track and trigger an initial Virtual Safety Car. The red flag was deployed after 65 laps due to the severity of the situation.
Who was leading the race when the red flag came out?
At the time of the red flag, local hero Max Verstappen, racing for Red Bull, was commanding the race from the front.
How did the rain affect the race strategy?
The rain prompted a strategic split among teams. While some drivers like Albon and Piastri persisted on dry tires, most switched to intermediates due to the track’s wet conditions. The track began to dry around lap 11, prompting teams to consider returning to slicks.
Why did Perez’s position change during the red flag?
Sergio Perez went off in Turn 1 before Zhou’s crash, falling from second to sixth. However, FIA’s race control later confirmed that the restart order would be based on the positions from the lap just before the red flag, putting Perez back in third.
What incidents further impacted the race?
The race also saw a safety car period due to an accident involving Williams’ driver Logan Sargeant. Additionally, Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc retired from the race after colliding with Piastri on the opening lap, due to damage and worsening floor conditions.
When did the rain stop and when did the race restart?
The rain ceased shortly before 5:00 PM local time, and the race was scheduled to restart at 5:14 PM with a rolling restart format using intermediate tires.