Formula 1 returned after the holidays with the race of the year at the Dutch Grand Prix and, with it, Fernando Alonso was once again on the podium. The Aston Martin driver had a stellar race at Zandvoort, where he overtook as many as five times and took advantage of the rain to finish second, just behind Dutch king Max Verstappen. Seventh podium for the Asturian in the World Cup, completed by Pierre Gasly, promoted to third place by Checo Pérez and his suspension. Carlos Sainz was fifth, but got as high as third for a stretch and fell just short of his first podium finish of the season.
One more day, the threat of rain invaded a somewhat sunny sky during the morning in Zandvoort, where Fernando Alonso, who had set the fifth fastest time in qualifying last Saturday, smacked his lips looking up. The Spaniard hadn’t started so early since the Canadian Grand Prix, where he finished second for the last time before this Sunday. Meanwhile, Verstappen matched Sebastian Vettel and Ascari’s nine-game winning streak.
Just behind him was his compatriot, Carlos Sainz, the only Ferrari component that seemed to want to save another weekend doomed to failure, even more so after Leclerc’s accident in Q3, followed by a crash of the car for which he ended up abandoning In race. The man from Madrid preferred a race with a dry track and the asphalt was like that when he started the race at 3:00 p.m., but the less there was left for the traffic light to go out, the more cloudy the sky became.
For this reason, all the drivers started on soft tyres, except for Hamilton (13th) and Hulkenberg (15th). A decision that rectified up to 11 pilots who went into the pits to put intermediate in the next two laps. All this after a start in which Fernando Alonso took out his wand and suddenly overtook Albon and Russell on the left to put himself in third place. Immediately afterwards, he did the same with Norris and was second behind Verstappen.
Five overtaking by Alonso
In this situation, both went to the pits to change to wet tyres, while brave men like Norris or Russell tried to withstand the second downpour of the afternoon, after Alonso drenched them at the start before claiming another victim already with the intermediates, Leclerc. However, the rain was a mirage and before lap 10 from the paddock they were already thinking about making the transition, once again, to dry tires.
Said and done, Fernando Alonso entered on lap 11 to put on those soft ones with which he had placed second at the start. At the same time, Verstappen did it. After the stop of Checo Pérez, who had led in the intermediate section, the Dutchman was back in front with his teammate and the Aston Martin behind. And a little further back, Sainz began his own war against Gasly –benefited from being part of the first group that entered the pits– to get fourth.
The heavy rain clouds continued to hang around Zandvoort, but the race management was going to slow down by bringing out the yellow flag for a new accident by Sargeant, forced to retire after crashing again, just like in qualifying. Little or nothing happened in a restart in which Pérez zigzagged ahead of Alonso to momentarily prevent the Asturian’s fifth overtaking in the Netherlands.
Little by little, the Red Bulls were distancing themselves from the Asturian, as well as Verstappen from his partner, who put more than four seconds on him while the rain continued to approach the track. The soft tire was surprising in the middle of the test due to its resistance on the asphalt when it came to downgrading. With Leclerc already off the track, Ferrari focused on Carlos Sainz, and offered him valuable information: the wheels were holding 10 more laps than expected. That is why the Spaniard stopped in the pits to have another set of soft tires fitted and set a trend for the drivers who were riding at the top.
With this new situation, Aston Martin came into play. Fernando Alonso was driving the perfect race, getting everything his car can give and more. However, a very slow pit stop placed Sainz in third place, but it lasted less than a piece of candy at the gate of a school because the Asturian plane was going to overtake him well on the main straight.
the final deluge
“Two minutes until it rains.” That was the warning that Gasly received when he was about to fall the final deluge. Alpine’s forecast, and the radar, came true on lap 61, when it began to rain abruptly and the pilots went to the pits to return to the intermediate tyres. New race situation in which you basically had to survive, because the track was for extreme rain wheels.
The first to fall was Pérez, who, blinded by the drops, spun and hit the wall slightly, so that Fernando Alonso, now yes, was placed second. The next one was Zhou, who did completely crash and had to retire, an action that in these times forces the FIA to raise the red flag. The race was stopped throughout the heavy rainy section and would resume from the pit lane, where the Spanish rider was going to come out behind the leader of the event and the World Championship, Verstappen.
Nothing could be ruled out, number 33 was a possibility and Fernando Alonso was aware of it. Even more so when he realized, like all the spectators, that the track was once again more for extreme rain wheels than intermediate ones. The forecasts were not wrong and the duel between the Asturian and Verstappen in the restart was spectacular, only a second separated him from victory.
Alonso had two things assured in the last stage: second place due to the five-second penalty on Pérez – he exceeded the speed in the pit lane – and the fastest lap. Finally, he had to settle for being second, which is not bad after four races and a summer full of doubts at Aston Martin, which is once again the second car and confirms the improvement for the last races of the World Championship.
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