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.
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.
Formula One statistics for Monday’s Dutch Grand Prix at Zandvoort, round 15 of the 22-race championship:
Lap distance: 4.259km. Total distance: 306.587km (72 laps)
2021 pole position: Max Verstappen (Netherlands) Red Bull one minute 08.885 seconds.
2021 race winner: Verstappen
Race lap record: Lewis Hamilton (Britain) Mercedes 1:11.097, 2021
Start time: 1300GMT (1500 local)
Last year’s race was the first Dutch Grand Prix since 1985.
Zandvoort opened in 1948 in the coastal sand dunes and is often described as “old school” — a quick and flowing circuit with high-speed changes of direction and much of the lap spent cornering.
It is roughly a half-hour train journey from Amsterdam.
The last two banked corners have an angle steeper than the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. The 235 metre pit lane is the shortest of the season.
Red Bull have won 10 of 14 races this season and Ferrari the rest. Verstappen has won nine, Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc and Carlos Sainz three and one respectively, and Red Bull’s Sergio Perez one.
Verstappen is chasing his fourth win in a row and 10th of the season.
Mercedes’ Hamilton has a record 103 wins and 188 podiums from 302 starts. The seven-times world champion last won a race in Saudi Arabia in December and is now on the longest streak of his career without a win.
Ferrari have won 242 races since 1950. McLaren have 183 wins, Mercedes 124, Williams 115 and Red Bull 85.
Leclerc has had seven poles this year, Verstappen three, Sainz two, Perez and Russell one each.
Hamilton has a record 103 career poles, most recently in Saudi Arabia last year.
Six drivers have taken fastest laps this season.
Leclerc took the bonus point in the first three races, Verstappen in Imola, Miami, Austria and Belgium, Perez in Spain and Azerbaijan, McLaren’s Lando Norris in Monaco, Ferrari’s Carlos Sainz in Canada and France and Hamilton in Britain and Hungary.
Verstappen leads Perez by 93 points. Red Bull lead Ferrari by 118 points in the constructors’ standings.
Williams’ Nicholas Latifi is the only race driver yet to score this season.
Mercedes are the only team to have scored in every race.
Belgium was Red Bull’s 150th front-row start.
Verstappen’s win in Belgium made him only the second driver, after the late Bruce McLaren, to win successive races from 10th or lower on the grid. He started 10th in Hungary and 14th in Belgium.
Spa was Red Bull’s lowest ever winning grid position.
Hamilton’s first-lap retirement in Spa was only the fifth time that had happened to the seven times world champion in his F1 career — but third time at the Belgian circuit