As Formula 1 returns from its summer break, Verstappen is looking to delight his home fans with a record-equalling ninth successive win. Behind him, there’s a close battle among the teams for second place and AlphaTauri need to salvage their season. Here’s who to back and what to watch out for at the 2023 Dutch Grand Prix!
After a four-week summer break, Formula 1 is back in action this weekend for the first of a double header of races. Ahead of next weekend’s Italian Grand Prix, Zandvoort takes centre stage as the penultimate European round of the 2023 season. It’s the third running of the Dutch Grand Prix since the event’s 2021 comeback.
Verstappen eyeing the consecutive win record
The 2023 Formula 1 season resumes amidst Red Bull’s total domination. 12 races into the year and we’re yet to see anyone other than a Red Bull driver stand on the top step of the podium. The team holds one of the largest leads ever seen in the Constructors’ Championship and it now seems a matter of when, not if, Max Verstappen will secure his third consecutive title win. Verstappen currently sits 125 points – or five race wins to put it in context – ahead of team-mate Sergio Perez in the standings. A run of eight impressive victories in the last eight races puts the Dutchman just one victory away from equalling Sebastian Vettel’s record of nine wins in a row. Vettel recorded his nine consecutive victories in the latter half of the 2013 season, when hunting down his fourth straight title with Red Bull. Little wonder Verstappen is the favourite to win this weekend. Can he keep the winning streak going at the 2023 Dutch Grand Prix?
Will Verstappen’s home win streak continue?
What better place to equal one of Formula 1’s most prestigious records than at your home race? That’s what Verstappen could do this weekend as he returns to the Netherlands in front of his adoring “Orange Army”. Expect a sell-out crowd, a party atmosphere trackside and plenty of orange
Formula 1 returned to the Netherlands in 2021 after a 36 year absence. Verstappen’s presence on the grid was very much the driving factor behind the event’s return – and he’s yet to let the home crowd down. Verstappen has won from pole position at Zandvoort in each of the last two seasons. He dominated in 2021, winning by over 20 seconds. 2022 was not quite as straightforward, with the Red Bull coming under pressure from the Mercedes drivers. Well-timed Safety Car periods aided Verstappen’s quest for the win.
Another victory at the 2023 Dutch Grand Prix would see Verstappen become the eighth driver to record three victories on home soil – and only the seventh to do so in three consecutive seasons, after the likes of Juan Manuel Fangio, Jim Clark, Alain Prost, Nigel Mansell, Michael Schumacher and Lewis Hamilton.
Can AlphaTauri salvage their 2023 season?
The partisan Dutch crowd could have had two home drivers to support on the grid at the 2023 Dutch Grand Prix, had Nyck de Vries not been dropped in favour of Daniel Ricciardo at AlphaTauri.
It’s one apiece in both the qualifying and race battles at AlphaTauri in the two races since Ricciardo teamed up with Yuki Tsunoda. Last time out at Spa, Tsunoda brought home the team’s first point since April’s Azerbaijan Grand Prix, with an admirable drive to tenth place. Ricciardo will surely be hoping to follow suit and get his first points of the year on the board at Zandvoort.
Neither Tsunoda nor Ricciardo have previously scored at the Dutch Grand Prix. In fact, Tsunoda is yet to reach the chequered flag at the track, recording frustrating mechanical-related retirements in both 2021 and 2022. AlphaTauri’s only points-scoring appearance so far at Zandvoort came courtesy of Pierre Gasly, who finished fourth in 2021.
The lofty heights of fourth seem well out of reach for the team this year, with tenth place being their best result so far in 2023. The team currently sits last in the standings with a mere three points – six behind nearest rivals Alfa Romeo. Can AlphaTauri salvage their year in the second half of the season? Points at Zandvoort would certainly be a much needed morale boost.
The runner-up battle is hotting up
In an alternate universe where Red Bull does not exist, the 2023 Formula 1 season is one of the most enthralling in the sport’s history, such has been the battle for the runner-up spot in each championship.
Aston Martin started the year well, with Fernando Alonso securing a run of podium finishes; Mercedes and Ferrari have always been in the hunt for podium places; while McLaren have enjoyed a big upturn in performance since the British Grand Prix. It’s difficult to predict which team will end up on top in this particular battle when the curtain closes on the 2023 season at the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix in late November.
That being said, Mercedes – currently second – have begun to create distance between themselves and the chasing pack. 51 points is the current gap between Mercedes and Aston Martin, while Ferrari lay a further five points back. Mercedes were in contention for victory at last year’s Dutch Grand Prix and remain the only team other than Red Bull to have won one of the previous 23 rounds. If Red Bull falter, Mercedes could be in a good position to pick up the spoils.
The inner-team battle at McLaren
It’s an interesting time at McLaren, where Oscar Piastri’s confidence will surely be sky high following his impressive Saturday at the last race before the summer break. Back at Spa, Piastri narrowly missed out on pole position for the Sprint race before leading laps of the Saturday
afternoon event and finishing as runner-up.
Things weren’t so easy for Piastri on Sunday – a first lap collision with Carlos Sainz, arguably the Ferrari’s driver’s fault, put an early end to his afternoon. Nevertheless, Piastri clearly has developed the pace to be a match for team-mate Lando Norris.
Norris has been able to record two podium finishes so far this year, with Piastri finishing not too far behind on each occasion. Could Zandvoort bring Piastri’s first Grand Prix podium result? Or will McLaren have to wait a little longer to return to the rostrum?