By Tom Cary, Senior Sports Correspondent, Zandvoort
Max Verstappen equaled Sebastian Vettel’s record of nine consecutive Formula 1 victories with victory in front of his adoring fans at a rain-soaked Dutch Grand Prix. But it was far from simple for the double world champion.
Verstappen lost his lead at the start after a brief downpour shook up the racing order, dropping to 13th. The Dutchman managed to regain the lead on lap 13 after a second pit stop. And he looked set to take another routine victory, only for a torrential downpour to hit the Zandvoort circuit with eight laps remaining.
The dangerous conditions caused a number of drivers to spin out at Turn 1, including Verstappen’s teammate Sergio Perez, who handed second place to Aston Martin’s Fernando Alonso after hitting the barriers. The Mexican did well to get his car moving.
Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton also went out in T1 as visibility deteriorated, managing to find the exit route. But Alfa Romeo’s Zhou Guanyu was not so lucky, hitting the barriers with such force that it raised a red flag.
After a 43-minute delay, the race finally resumed with a flying start after two laps behind a safety car. Verstappen completed his task with minimal fuss to claim his ninth consecutive victory, equaling Sebastian Vettel’s record from 2013.
Behind him, Perez was penalized five seconds for speeding in the pit lane, meaning he lost the final podium spot to Alpine’s Pierre Gasly.
It was the Milton Keynes team’s 23rd victory in 24 races and Verstappen’s 11th of the season as he moves closer to his third consecutive world title.