Netherlands Grand Prix at Zandvoort, Sunday, 04.09.2022
As exciting as the World Championship battle was at the start of the season, it now seems to have been decided just as quickly. With a lead of almost 100 points, Max Verstappen would have to miss quite a few races to avoid becoming Formula 1 world champion again.
Now it comes to a home race for the Dutchman in Zaandvoort. In the meantime, with odds of around 1.61, the bookmakers have made Verstappen a much clearer favourite to win than before.
The world champion has long since overtaken the competition, namely Charles Leclerc, who is fighting with blunt weapons this year.
Wrong decisions in the pits, driving errors and an unreliable car ensure week after week that Ferrari still leaves many observers shaking their heads.
Anything other than a Verstappen victory would therefore be very surprising indeed. In the fight for pole, too, everything will go over the Dutchman in Formula 1 betting.
Therefore, in my Formula 1 prediction for the Dutch Grand Prix, I rather look at the places behind and reveal in my race preview why Ferrari will do better than Mercedes despite the current situation.
You can almost relax at Red Bull when the lights go out at the Dutch Grand Prix on Sunday.
Because Max Verstappen and Sergio Perez, who are first and second in the championship standings, have performed the strongest and made the fewest mistakes so far this year.
Verstappen in particular, who started the Belgian GP from P15, drove everything into the ground and ended up racing in a world of his own.
For Ferrari, on the other hand, the last race in particular was anything but optimal. The last lap of the race was indicative of this.
Leclerc pitted for the fastest lap, only to get a penalty for speeding in the pit lane. Still, it wasn’t all bad for Ferrari either.
Sainz finished third, which is currently better than Leclerc. Nevertheless, at the English betting provider Bet365, the Monegasque has odds of around 1.57 for a top-3 finish, even lower than his team-mate Sainz (odds of around 1.90).
All in all, Ferrari should be in with a chance on this track, as the Ferrari car with the most downforce has an advantage over the other teams on the 4.2 km circuit.
At least in theory. Because with more downforce than last time in Belgium, Ferrari should again put a better performance on the asphalt. Mercedes, however, also wants to shine with such a performance.
The Silver Arrows, however, are just as perplexed as Ferrari. After one of the worst qualifying sessions in the team’s history, Russell was almost surprisingly on the podium in the race.
I doubt whether it will be a fight for the podium again this weekend in Zandvoort on the fast track with the steep corners.
However, the front midfield is definitely possible for Mercedes, provided that the cars perform similarly to last weekend.
For Max Verstappen, this weekend is an absolute home game, because in front of more than 100,000 spectators, the race will not only be spectacular because of the track characteristics.
Because the circuit with its 19° steep corners, some of which are driven through at 260 km/h, also offers little room for error. Last season, only 17 cars saw the chequered flag…
The run-off zones at this circuit are not very large, the gravel next to the track has been glued down, but the risk of ending up in the gravel is still high.
On top of that, there could be light rain showers during both the race and qualifying. In addition, there have already been several technical failures this season, even among the top teams.
Therefore, I expect at least 3 cars to miss the finish line in this race as well.
The last 5 races at Circuit Park Zandvoort:
There was no Formula 1 in the Netherlands for a full 25 years until the GP found its way back into the racing calendar in 2021. In the last race, Verstappen took a largely unchallenged start-finish victory.
Hamilton was his biggest rival then, yet I think Sergio Perez will be the Dutchman’s biggest competition this time around.
Nevertheless, the bookmakers still see the Mexican as worse than Leclerc in Formula 1 betting on the Dutch GP. Based purely on current form, however, I see Perez quite clearly ahead.
Conclusion: Max Verstappens current dominance is a bit reminiscent of Mercedes dominance in recent years. Whether Red Bull can shape a similar era, however, remains to be seen.
Nevertheless, I see the Dutchman as the absolute favourite to win the race at his home race in Zandvoort. Ferrari can’t keep up at the moment, but that’s not (only) due to the car itself.
Because the Scuderia sometimes ruins its own good starting positions through driving mistakes and wrong strategies. Nevertheless, I believe that Ferrari will have to break the knot at some point.
Zandvoort offers a good opportunity for that. Because the circuit is a high-downforce track, on which Ferrari normally look good.
In addition, I assume that the last weekend has been worked through intensively within the team and that the car can perform as strongly as it did at the beginning of the season.
For Mercedes, the gap between QF and the race is still too big to make any clear predictions, but the trend has been upwards recently, so a duel with Ferrari is also quite possible here.
Nevertheless, Max Verstappen will probably have to fight less for pole in qualifying this time than he has done a few times this season.
Therefore my tip is: Pole Verstappen.