Venue: Circuit Zandvoort
Max Verstappen is almost impossible to oppose in our Dutch Grand Prix predictions as he seeks a historic victory on home turf.
Verstappen’s triumph in Belgium before the summer break was his eighth in a row – one shy of Sebastian Vettel’s record – and a 10th win from the 12 rounds so far this season.
At Spa Francorchamps, the double world champion started sixth but claimed the lead on lap 17 of 44 before taking the chequered flag 22.3 seconds clear of his Red Bull team-mate Sergio Perez.
Verstappen leads Perez by a mammoth 125 points in the championship standings and Red Bull remain on course for an incredible clean sweep of race wins in 2023.
That dominance began last term and the team from Milton Keynes have now won 22 of the last 23 races, with the flying Dutchman delivering 19 of those triumphs.
Such was the ease of his latest success, Verstappen goaded his forlorn rivals by suggesting Red Bull engage in some pointless “pit-stop training” during that event.
“He has reason to be cheeky because he is just driving circles round everybody else on merit,” was the verdict of Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff. “The stopwatch never lies and there is one guy in one car above everyone else.”
Lewis Hamilton described Verstappen’s dominance of Formula One as being like “he is having a smoke and a pancake”.
The seven-time world champion was referencing the 2002 Austin Powers movie in which Dutch villain Goldmember delivers a similar line.
It seems only bad luck can stop the 25-year-old, who commented: “I knew we had a great car and it was just about surviving Turn 1. I saw it get tight ahead and I just stayed out of that.”
Teammate Perez, who won in Saudi Arabia and Azerbaijan early on this year, bounced back from a sticky spell to finish runner-up in Belgium.
Charles Leclerc finished third to give Ferrari a much-needed boost and can be backed at 22/1 to prevail at Circuit Zandvoort.
Hamilton started third and crossed the line in fourth, while teammate George Russell had to settle for sixth, as Mercedes alarmingly saw a return of their ‘bouncing’ issues.
“It was not bouncing a little bit, it was bouncing like last year,” said Hamilton. “It was bouncing everywhere.”
Team boss Wolff added: “The car was bouncing on every straight, and even Blanchimont was a corner that Lewis was having to lift, and that is usually an easy flat.
“You bounce on the straight, you overheat the tyres on braking, and that is a vicious circle. It is frustrating to check out for the holidays like this but we will understand more.”
Past Dutch GP winners
2022 Verstappen (Red Bull), Russell (Mercedes), Leclerc (Ferrari)
2021 Verstappen (Red Bull), Hamilton (Mercedes), Bottas (Mercedes)
1985 Niki Lauda (McLaren)
1984 Alain Prost (McLaren)
1983 Rene Arnoux (Ferrari)
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