Home advantage for Verstappen? 

There’s no doubt this weekend at Zandvoort will be a carnival atmosphere as F1 returns to the Netherlands for the first time in over 35 years. 

The country has its own superstar in Max Verstappen - arguably the best driver in F1 at the moment with a realistic shot at the title. 

With COVID restrictions slowly loosening, there’s going to be at least 70,000 Dutch fans at Zandvoort on race day to see whether Verstappen can win on home soil to reclaim the lead of the championship. 

No doubt, Lewis Hamilton will be on the receiving end of a lot of boos and criticism, especially after their collision at Silverstone.

Booing is part and parcel of sport, and I suspect it’s something that Hamilton will only use to be more fired up this weekend.

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The balance of power 

After Mercedes’ upgrade at the British GP, the balance of power appears to have gone back in the reigning world champions favour, although there are a few caveats to that point.

Hamilton claimed pole at the British and Hungarian Grands Prix, while Verstappen took top spot at Spa, albeit in wet conditions. 

With Verstappen’s race-ending prematurely in Britain and being severely hampered by the damage he picked up in Hungary, and no race whatsoever taking place in Belgium, we’ve yet to see the Red Bull run in anger since the Austria double-header. 

Zandvoort has one of the shortest lap times on the F1 calendar so expect an even tighter battle at the front. 

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Another shock on the cards?

F1 has been full of shocks in recent rounds.

From Charles Leclerc’ near-win at Silverstone, Esteban Ocon’s shock triumph in Hungary or Williams’ first podium since 2017 with George Russell at Spa, could we be set for another?

While the weather looks more favourable than we saw last weekend at Spa, there is still a chance of rain for Sunday.

Had it not been for Lando Norris’ shunt in Q3 at Spa, we might have had a ‘shock’ pole-sitter and eventual race winner.

I say shock as Norris had topped Q1 and Q2 before his shunt but given his form so far this season, you never know what might be around the corner. 

The banking

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One unique characteristic of the Zandvoort circuit is its banking section which closes out the lap - Turns 13 and 14.

Turn 14 is taken flat-out, generating forces in excess of 4G (according to Pirelli) so it's no surprise the hardest compound of tyre will be available to the teams this weekend. 

Zandvoort is a tight and twisty circuit, so don’t expect too much overtaking on race day. 

Even if it isn’t a spectacle on track, no doubt the atmosphere created by the orange army will make it one to remember.

The dominos are falling

It seems like the dominos are falling with regards to the driver market for 2022. 

According to RaceFans, Valtteri Bottas will replace Kimi Raikkonen at Alfa Romeo as George Russell gets his well-deserved promotion to Mercedes. 

Alexander Albon is expected to be Russell’s replacement at Williams alongside Nicholas Latifi, while 2019 F2 and current Formula E champion Nyck de Vries could partner Bottas at Alfa.

Will the announcements happen this weekend? Unlikely.

The Italian GP has been tipped as the big weekend for the news to be broken but this is F1.

One thing’s for sure, the tedious questions about next year that we hear in every F1 press conference are soon to be no more.

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