Max Verstappen moves on from Belgium to his home Dutch Grand Prix at Zandvoort this weekend with a spring in his step, even if he expects to be less dominant than he was in Spa last Sunday.
Red Bull’s runaway Formula One championship leader has won the last two races from well down the starting grid — 10th in Hungary, 14th in Belgium — and will want to continue the run from the front of the grid this time.
With a 93-point gap to Mexican team mate Sergio Perez, and 98 advantage over Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc who remains his closest real rival, Verstappen is relaxed and cruising to a second title.
This weekend will be his first home race as world champion, so there is plenty to get the party started with the circuit also at full capacity after a limited crowd last year due to pandemic restrictions.
“There’s a lot more downforce required at the track in Zandvoort (than Spa) so it will be harder for us to be dominant, I expect Ferrari to be strong there,” Verstappen said ahead of the 15th race of the 22-round season.
“I of course want a good result but it’s important to always score points.
“I’m just going to enjoy the weekend with all the fans, it’s going to be pretty crazy.”
Verstappen unleashed a massive party when he won from pole in Zandvoort last year, the first Dutch Grand Prix since 1985.
He returns on a streak of success with nine wins this season and chasing his fourth in a row.
A 10th victory would equal his tally from all of last year and the Dutch driver is on course to smash the record of 13 in a season held jointly by Germans Michael Schumacher and Sebastian Vettel.
Red Bull boss Christian Horner said after his team’s one-two in Spa that the circuit characteristics played a big part in the performance advantage.
Zandvoort is not easy for overtaking and, with high banked final corners, makes it much more important to qualify high up the grid even if there is always the risk of a safety car to bunch things up.
Ferrari need a morale-boost and winning in front of Verstappen’s Orange Army in the second part of a triple-header would set them up for Italy’s Monza circuit next week.
“Zandvoort should be a better track for us. Monza should be advantage Red Bull there, but we will try and win it in Zandvoort,” said Spaniard Carlos Sainz, who finished third in Spa after starting on pole position.
Mercedes, way off the pace in qualifying at Spa, will also be looking to bounce back at a circuit where the team finished second and third last year with Lewis Hamilton and now-departed Valtteri Bottas.
Hamilton’s car took a big hit in Spa after a first lap collision with Fernando Alonso’s Alpine sent it high into the air before crashing down, and question marks remain about possible penalties.
“He will be OK, he will be back in Zandvoort fighting,” said team strategy director James Vowles.