Fernando Alonso put Red Bull advisor Helmut Marko on edge when he sized up Max Verstappen for the lead late in the Dutch Grand Prix.
The weather made it anything but a smooth stroll to the win for Verstappen on home soil, but once he had undone the damage of an early downpour and further rain threats failed to materialise, it seemed like Verstappen was well on his way to that record-equalling ninth win in a row.
And while he pulled off that achievement, he did not reach the chequered flag without the weather deciding to dish out another potential banana skin for the dominant Dutchman to slip on.
Fernando Alonso gets Helmut Marko’s heart racing
As the weather radars promised rain even heavier than that seen at the race start, this deluge did indeed arrive, causing the race to be red flagged on Lap 64.
Once it resumed, Verstappen was at the head of the field with Alonso in the Aston Martin now his closest pursuer, and pursue he did in the early laps after the restart, Verstappen managing to weather that particular storm and ultimately claim victory with 3.7-second margin over Alonso.
No dramas then for the Dutchman, though Marko was not resting so assured.
“This race was very stressful, at least for me, especially after the late restart with Fernando Alonso behind us,” Marko told Motorsport.com.
“We, and therefore Max’s car, always need a little more time to warm up the tyres than Alonso in the Aston Martin. That could also have something to do with the tyre pressures.
“You could see that Alonso gave everything. At one point he was only six-tenths behind Max, so that was the most worrying situation for me on Sunday. Then my heart rate went up.
“Anyway, Max kept that perfectly under control and once he got the intermediate [tyres] up to temperature, he was able to control it again.”
Fernando Alonso jokes about why he did not overtake Max Verstappen
Considering Alonso was racing very much in Verstappen territory, he joked that he did not fancy attempting a pass on Verstappen in front of his ‘Orange Army’ in fear that they would not let him leave Zandvoort.
“I did think about trying to move on the last restart, but then I thought maybe I can’t exit the circuit, so I stayed calm in second!” Alonso said with a smile.
Verstappen with victory extended his Drivers’ Championship lead over Sergio Perez to 138 points, while Alonso in P3 stretched his advantage over Lewis Hamilton from just a single point to 12.