Max Verstappen
Man of the moment: Max Verstappen celebrates in front of his home Dutch fansat Zandvoort AFP / JOHN THYS

Max Verstappen won the Dutch Grand Prix for the third time in as many seasons. Apart from that, the win also extends his streak to nine consecutive victories, equalling the record set by former Red Bull star Sebastian Vettel in 2013.

A P1 for Verstappen has become almost a given this season, with the reigning world champion winning a whopping eleven out of thirteen races so far in 2023. Such is the Red Bull's dominance that the other two races were won by his teammate, Sergio Perez.

However, the win at the Zandvoort Circuit was anything but straightforward. The weather was unpredictable and wet-dry conditions were changing right from the opening lap. Two red flag periods were called, and a narrow pit lane ensured that teams had to make crucial strategy calls to make sure their drivers did not lose out.

Fernando Alonso thinks Verstappen's achievements have been underestimated

Many believe that Verstappen's dominance both in 2022 and 2023 can mostly be attributed to the strength of his Red Bull car. However, two-time world champion Fernando Alonso thinks more credit should be given where it is due.

"It is underestimated sometimes what Max is achieving. To win in such a dominant manner in any sport is so complicated," he said, as quoted by the BBC. "To be at the same level as him... we have a lot of self-confident drivers in general so I do believe that I can do it as well. I don't know (about) Lewis, but me yes. And Lewis as well. You need to enter in a mood in a state that you are connected to the car."

After finishing second in Zandvoort, Alonso said that he felt truly connected to his car on Sunday and he was able to give 100%. That was what allowed him to execute impressive overtakes and stay ahead of most other competitors under the challenging race conditions. However, he admitted that it was easy to fall out of that zone like he did on Spa and Austria earlier this season where he finished out of the podium spots.

"You always feel there is room to improve and you are not 100% happy with yourself as I am today. And I think Max is achieving that 100% more often than us at the moment, than any other drivers, and that's why he's dominating," said Alonso.

Verstappen's masterclass in front of his home crowd

Verstappen started from pole position but unlike many of his previous victories, this was not a procession all the way to the chequered flag. It rained heavily halfway through the opening lap, forcing everyone to pit for intermediate tyres. Perez went in first, allowing him to leapfrog his teammate into the lead.

However, even with what looked like a healthy advantage up front, the Mexican saw the gap disintegrate as Verstappen passed Pierre Gasly's Alpine and Zhou Guanyu's Alfa Romeo. The Dutchman managed to gain nine seconds on Perez within just eight laps.

Then, with Fernando Alonso hot on their tails, Red Bull made the call to box Verstappen first for slick tyres as the track started to dry out. When Perez came in just a lap later, Verstappen was able to execute a flawless undercut to retake the lead.

Towards the end of the race, a red flag was called as the rain started to fall heavily on the circuit. However, no one could stop Verstappen from claiming victory, even a very determined Alonso who had already managed to pass Perez for second place.

Verstappen admitted that despite his dominance, the victory and the winning streak did not come easy. "It's hard. Especially like today, it is easy to make a wrong call and even drop it yourself. It is never that straightforward unfortunately."

Christian Horner is over the moon

Red Bull team principal Christian Horner could hardly believe that he was able to witness another one of his drivers winning nine races in a row. Horner said about Verstappen: "Quietly, he is very proud of what he is doing and achieving. The record Sebastian did in 2013, to win nine in a row is insane, and so to have done it in a team with another driver is something I don't think any of us could have envisaged."

Verstappen reiterated that there was nothing easy about the win in front of his home crowd at Zandvoort on Sunday, but he is happy about the achievement and is surely ready for the next challenge. "It was probably one of the more difficult races to win again but nine in a row is something I never even thought about. I am very happy to win in front of my home crowd."