By News Team
3rd September 2021
The Formula One circus returns to Zandvoort for the time in 36 years as the Dutch Grand Prix makes a highly anticipated return to the calendar.
Whilst the locals have been starved of F1 action on home soil, the wait will all have been worth it for the punters should home favourite Max Verstappen sweep to his seventh win of the season on Sunday.
As well as the action on track, the driver merry-go-round is also set to pick up pace following Kimi Raikkonen’s decision to retire at the end of the season, and we preview the action below.
Max may retake championship lead
Whilst rain may have curtailed any real racing action at Spa last weekend, Max Verstappen will have been one of few drivers happy with his reduced points haul from the race. His 12.5 points mean that the gap to championship rival Lewis Hamilton is now down to just 3 points as the Dutchman goes into his home race. A win in front of his adoring Orange Army would return him to the top of the driver’s standings and see the adoring spectators go absolutely wild.
In truth it’s a lead he deserves, given that if it were not for a tyre blowout in Baku, a tangle with Hamilton at Silverstone, and a shunt caused by Valtteri Bottas in Hungary he likely would already have a sizeable lead in the championship. The RB16B has proven itself capable at a variety of different tracks this season, but it should favour the fast, twisty and undulating Zanvoort as much as any this season. The 2.64-mile track is drastically changed from the one which hosted the last Grand Prix, but still features two banked corners, including the 18 degree ‘Luyendyk’ final corner, which will catapult the drivers onto the home straight.
It is and has always been tricky to overtake at Zandvoort though, despite the changes to the layout, and qualifying on Saturday will be crucial to the result on Sunday – although hopefully not as important as it proved to be at Spa. Verstappen has had the edge over Hamilton on Saturday’s this year, qualifying on pole on six occasions so far this campaign and is currently 8/11 to be the fastest qualifier and 4/5 to win the race on Sunday.
Hamilton will be hoping he can follow in the footsteps of mentor Niki Lauda, who was the last F1 driver to win in Holland and is 15/8 to do so on Sunday. Hamilton’s teammate Valtteri Bottas will be looking to silence questions over his future by qualifying on pole at 11/2 and winning on Sunday at 20/1.
The Driver Merry-Go-Round speeds up
Another fascinating side story at this stage of the season is always the driver market, and with drivers facing questions over their futures they are even more keen to impress. Whilst last weekend saw Mercedes-touted George Russell impress by qualifying on the front row, it is Kimi Raikkonen who looks to have set the wheels in motion following the announcement that he will retire from Formula One at the end of the season. The legendary Finn made his debut in 2001 and won the world championship in 2007 leaves a vacant seat at Alfa Romeo.
If rumours are to be believed it will be Bottas who replaces his fellow Finn, but with the other seat at Alfa as well as seats at Williams and AlphaTauri not yet confirmed, there are other drivers who will need to put in a performance.
Russell is currently 200/1 to take an unlikely victory but could well be aiming for a third consecutive points finish for Williams. Meanwhile Yuki Tsonoda (500/1), Antonio Giovinazzi (500/1) and Nicholas Latifi (1000/1) will all be looking for a strong performance for their respective teams.