Dutch Grand Prix 2023 Predictions: Can anyone beat Verstappen?
22 August 2023
Formula 1’s summer break is at an end and it’s time for a rapid-fire second half of the season to get underway.
The Dutch Grand Prix will begin a run of 10 grands prix in just 14 weeks that will see Formula 1 sign off from Europe, head to Asia, trek across to the Americas, and also make trips to the Gulf region. There’s also the much-anticipated Las Vegas Grand Prix lurking on the horizon.
However, for many of the paddock there will still be a summery element to this weekend’s event.
Formula 1 resumes at Circuit Zandvoort, which carves through the dunes a stone’s throw from the eponymous town, one of the Netherlands’ most-visited seaside resorts, with its Centre Parcs complex doubling up as accommodation for swathes of personnel.
Zandvoort hosted Formula 1 from 1951 until 1985 and was a fast and fearsome circuit, before falling off the calendar, after which its layout was truncated, though elements of the original track remained.
It feels slightly eccentric to have a race in a North Sea holiday resort but Amsterdam is only 30 minutes away by train while Formula 1’s popularity in the region has boomed across the last decade.
That is largely thanks to one man – the reigning two-time champion Max Verstappen.
Verstappen’s home hat-trick?
The rise of Verstappen through the late 2010s prompted officials at the circuit to assess whether it was feasible for the Dutch Grand Prix to be revived and in 2019 agreed a fresh deal with Formula 1.
Zandvoort re-joined Formula 1’s schedule in 2021 and Verstappen has so far proved unbeatable on home soil. Verstappen controlled 2021’s race from pole position to become the first Dutch driver to triumph at the Dutch Grand Prix.
Last year Verstappen again converted pole position into victory and was once more faultless to deliver the frenzied home fans the result they craved. This grand prix may as well be called the Verstappen Grand Prix rather than the Dutch Grand Prix, such is his dominance of the event, and the fanbase which attends.
Can anyone beat Verstappen?
Well, yes, but also no.
Verstappen has dominated this year like no driver in history, taking 10 victories from 12, and is on course to smash the record of wins in a season (which he set in 2022), the most laps led in a season, and the most points scored in a season. The two races in 2023 he has not won were claimed by Red Bull teammate Sergio Perez.
He has won the last eight grands prix in commanding fashion, with victory margins regularly in excess of 20 seconds, and that’s without truly pushing Red Bull’s RB19 to its limit.
Victory on home turf will allow Verstappen to level Sebastian Vettel’s record of nine-in-a-row, which was set at the end of the German’s last of four title-winning seasons in 2013.
A four-way battle for second
Several different drivers have claimed the runner-up position to Verstappen during his dominant spell with Perez faltering on multiple occasions.
Perez restored his rightful second in Belgium but poor qualifying positions have hampered his prospects, and his one-lap record at Zandvoort – where overtaking is tough – is subdued, having taken fifth last year and a meagre 16th in 2021.
During Verstappen’s winning phase Perez, Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc, Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton, McLaren’s Lando Norris and Aston Martin’s Fernando Alonso have all finished runner-up – albeit a distant one – and putting everything on the table at the end of Q3 will be make-or-break for a swathe of drivers.
There is also a risk that rain showers could strike Zandvoort through the course of the weekend. Rain has not fallen at the Dutch Grand Prix since its return in 2021 so it would be a step into the unknown for the field of 20 at a circuit where gravel traps and barriers are not too far from the racing line.
Dutch Grand Prix 2023 Predictions:
Max Verstappen pole/win double
Lando Norris to finish on the podium @ 2.22
22 August 2023