Can anything stop Max Verstappen from storming to a second Drivers’ Championship? Judging by the Dutchman’s dominant victory in Belgian last weekend, the answer is no.
This weekend the attention turns to who can halt Verstappen at his home Grand Prix at Zandvoort. The Red Bull driver won his home GP in 2021 after the race returned for the first time since 1985. Verstappen’s teammate Sergio Perez trails him in the driver’s standings after seven podium finishes in 2022.
The 4.259km-long Zandvoort circuit was opened in 1948 and hosted its first GP in 1952.
Nestled between the dunes near the North Sea coastline, around 30km from Amsterdam. The track’s nature is fast and twisty, with several medium-speed corners that give the feeling of being on a rollercoaster. The Italian designer Jarno Zaffelli added an increased banking angle at the Tarzanbocht corner to 18 degrees, which provides brilliant sling-shot momentum down to Gerlachbocht. Zandvoort rewards cars with more downforce, which naturally plays into Ferrari’s hands. We’ve seen the Italian team struggle with niggly strategy and reliability issues at times this season so it will be anything but move sailing for Charles Leclerc and Carlos Sainz.
Qualifying is vital to get a good grid position, as overtaking is difficult thanks to most of the circuit spent cornering.
Verstappen has already played mind games this week in the press by admitting that Ferrari will be strong and that he’s going into his home race to have fun. The sea of orange will follow Verstappen to Zandvoort, and the Dutch fans bring an electric atmosphere to any GP, which we saw in 2021. Therefore, we’ve pencilled in the Dutchman for the win and for Leclerc to qualify on pole due to the unpredictability of the Scuderia this season.
From one world champion to another, Lewis Hamilton will be hoping to put last weekend’s crash behind him after his run of five podium finishers came to an end. Mercedes struggled with George Russell far off the pace compared to Red Bull and Ferrari. Mercedes scored a double podium finish last season in the Netherlands and will have their work cut out for them.
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