The top tier of motorsport returns this weekend for the Dutch Grand Prix at Zandvoort.
After a three-week break the teams face the same challenge as before: try to stop Max Verstappen and Red Bull. The 25-year-old starts as the clear favourite at 1.22 for the win, his teammate Sergio Perez languishes behind at 11/1 followed by Lewis Hamilton (13/1) and Lando Norris (19/1).
Verstappen has also won from pole position at the last two races here, he loves performing well in front of the ‘Orange Army’.
Zandvoort is liked by drivers for its fast layout and unique banked turns, in particular the final section of the 4.2km long circuit. Its short length means a total of 72 laps need to be completed and those long runs will favour teams like Mercedes and McLaren. On the other hand, Ferrari may struggle at a circuit where overtaking is hard.
There are two DRS sections, the first one between Turns 10 and 11, and the second kicks in from the middle of Turn 13 and down the pit straight towards Turn 1, or Tarzan as it’s known. We should see speeds of around 320km/h down that section and will be one of the spots for overtaking.
The location of the track, along the coast, offers a few of the sea and the famous dunes. Like those dunes, Zandvoort has undulations and a rollercoaster-like feel with swoops and rises. We could see some overtaking under braking in the tighter sections.
Zandvoort offers thrills like few other tracks, and while it can be likened to the Hungaroring somewhat. However, we reckon it has more thrills and the onboard car footage might even give people motion sickness.
Qualifying Is Important
Lewis Hamilton’s brilliant lap at the Hungaroring showed that the seven-time champion can propel the W14 to pole position. The Mercedes driver’s odds at 7.5/1 to claim the pole is tempting, with Verstappen a clear favourite at 1.44/1.
Track position is vital at Zandvoort as we’ve mentioned overtaking could be tricky, except for the Red Bull drivers whose cars are searingly quick everywhere.
Another driver to look out for over one lap is Charles Leclerc. The Ferrari driver finished on the podium in Belgian last time out and at 17/1 offers tasty odds of claiming his second pole position of the season.
The McLaren and Mercedes have been strong at tracks with medium-speed corners and they will be strong favourites to get onto the podium. Lando Norris and Oscar Piastri will want to extend their strong run in the season after their heavily upgraded McLaren caught Mercedes, Aston Martin, and Ferrari by surprise. For context, McLare was the slowest car in pre-season testing.
And finally, the weather could throw a spanner in the works this weekend with rain predicted on each day this weekend. That increases the chance of a red flag and could mean strategy becomes very important.
Winner – Verstappen
Podium – Verstappen, Hamilton, Norris
Fastest lap: Perez
Pole position: Hamilton
First to retire: Sargeanr
Most Team Points: Mercedes
Both Cars Qualify for Q3 Shootout: McLaren
Practice 1/2/3 Winning Car: Verstappen/ Red Bull
Safety Car: Yes
Top 6: Russell, Sainz, Gasly
Top 10: Albon, Hulkenberg, Tsunoda