After a three-week break, Formula One returns to action this weekend as racing heads to Zandvoort for the 2023 Dutch Grand Prix.
With Max Verstappen just a couple of wins away from securing another World Title, there are other story-lines at play as well, as the drivers market will soon begin to see a lot of traffic with multiple teams having their drivers’ contracts running out.
Ahead of the 2023 Dutch Grand Prix, here are a few predictions:
Home hero unstoppable
Reigning World Champion and current World Drivers’ Standings leader Max Verstappen headed into the summer break with a 125-point lead over his teammate, Sergio Pérez. The Dutchman has been in such tremendous form that he singlehandedly outscores Mercedes by 67 points, with the Silver Arrows second in the Constructors’ Standings.
To say the first half of the season belonged to Verstappen would be an understatement. He has been unstoppable and untouchable in a superior Red Bull machinery, which will most likely see him pick up his third World Title in a few races’ time.
As racing returns and Formula One heads to Verstappen’s background, Red Bull’s numero uno is the clear favourite to take the win in Zandvoort.
Pole Prediction: Max Verstappen
Race Win Prediction: Red Bull
Looking into the future
It’s been mixed performances for Lewis Hamilton since 2022. After a heart-breaking loss to Verstappen in the 2021 season, The 2022 season saw Hamilton pair up with up-and-coming star George Russell, who comprehensively beat him in the 2022 season.
The 2022 season was also Hamilton’s first winless season in Formula One, and while the Mercedes car isn’t the fastest or even second-fastest on the grid, Hamilton’s performances in isolation haven’t been ideal either. While the ageing Brit has put in a couple of commendable performances, they do not meet his own standards.
It’s not all doom and gloom for the seven-time World Champion, though. The last few races have seen the Mercedes F1 W14 show strong race pace, and with Hamilton looking forward to renewing his Mercedes contract, this might just be the race he needs to get his season back on track and maybe even start fighting for podiums.
Podium Dark Horse: Lewis Hamilton / Mercedes
Turbulent times at Alpine
Once the new regulations set in, Alpine were one team looking to head to the front of the grid from the midfield scraps they had been in over the last few years. While Fernando Alonso drove the wheels of the Alpine last year to see them finish fourth in the Constructors’, the team have been on a downward slope since the start of this season.
Alonso departed the team to join Aston Martin, and the French team went for an all-French line up with Pierre Gasly and Esteban Ocon. Sadly, they have struggled to fight in the midfield battle and lie sixth, with Williams also pressurising them, and have managed just three double points finishes this season till date.
And if things weren’t bad already for them, Alpine’s team principal, Otmar Szafnauer, also left them after the Belgian Grand Prix. It was not only Szafnauer who left, but also their Sporting Director, Alan Permane, and Chief Technical Officer, Pat Fry.
Alpine’s Vice President of Motorsports, Bruno Famin, is currently serving as the Interim Team Principal, and with uncertainty in the organisational structure, the French team are sailing through rough waters. Expect them to have another tough weekend in the Netherlands.
Circuit: Circuit Zandvoort
Venue: Zandvoort, North Holland, Netherlands
Practice Session 1 time: 16:00, August 25
Practice Session 2 time: 19:30, August 25
Practice Session 3 time: 15:00, August 26
Qualifying time: 18:30, August 26
Main race time: 18:30, August 27
Where to watch: F1 TV Pro
(All timings IST)