Start the Beach Party: the Formula 1 Dutch Grand Prix Netting News
The Driver’s Market Carousel Continues to Provide Surprises
The Formula 1 driver’s market has cooled to a simmer in the background since the early days of Formula 1’s summer break. However, the FIA’s contract recognition board’s action on the Alpine-McLaren-Piastri contract situation is pending (and, as of publication, overdue) and has the market moving in earnest again. We know Daniel Ricciardo is out at McLaren, but it seems a new contender has emerged from within the Formula 1 paddock: Pierre Gasly.
Many, including myself, believed that Gasly’s determination to win back the Red Bull seat he lost a brief stint in 2019 and a career-long dislike of Alpine’s Esteban Ocon would keep French team Alpine from fielding an all-French lineup next season. The-race.com reports that Alpine is looking to purchase Gasly’s existing Red Bull contract to fill its Formula 1 seat abruptly vacated by Fernando Alonso. This means a possible reunion between Alpine/Renault and Daniel Ricciardo isn’t happening.
Ricciardo is one of three Formula 1 veterans, including Nico Hülkenburg and Antonio Giovinazzi, currently linked to interest from Haas to partner with Kevin Magnussen next season. As the driver market carousel turns, Mick Schumacher is without a Formula 1 seat and Ferrari academy backing next season. Williams and Alpha Tauri are the only F1 teams with driver vacancies at the moment, leaving few options and fierce competition for Schumacher to remain on the grid.
The Red Bull and Porsche Deal is Now Mired in Uncertainty
The rumored and documented Red Bull and Porsche partnership is now not as sure as documented fillings had once seemed. Red Bull will give up the independence and autonomy they exhibit as a Formula 1 team with the rumored Porsche deal. This has led to speculation on Porsche’s re-entry into Formula 1 and the fate of Red Bull-owned Alpha Tauri.
Red Bull is interested in filling its empty seat at Alpha Tauri with IndyCar standout Colton Herta, despite Herta not having the points required for an FIA Super Licence and a drive in F1. This interest in Herta and rumored issues with the Red Bull-Porsche deal have rumors of a potential sale of Alpha Tauri to Andretti Motorsports, giving the American outfit a long-desired path into the Formula 1 paddock.
Unlike contract uncertainty for other drivers, do not expect any of this Red Bull-Porsche business to affect Max Verstappen’s on-track performance at Circuit Zandvoort.
Circuit Zandvoort Preview
Circuit Zandvoort is located on the coast of the North Sea in North Holland, Netherlands. One lap around Circuit Zandvoort’s 14 turns will cover 2.646 miles (4.259 km), while the Grand Prix will cover 190.542 miles (306.648 km) for 72 total laps. The banked corners of Circuit Zandvoort allow viewers to see Formula 1 cars compete on a type of track and surface uncommon on the F1 calendar.
The orange army that follows Verstappen will have a beach party hoping that the reigning, defending Dutch Grand Prix and Formula 1 World Driver’s Champion will give them another dominant performance. Circuit Zandvoort should favor Ferrari, as the F1-75’s car characteristics seem well suited to the track. The real question is whether Red Bull’s dominance of the Belgian Grand Prix weekend is down to track-specific performance, or have Red Bull’s upgrades found more pace in the RB-18?
If Red Bull has found extra pace, even on a track like Zandvoort, Red Bull has to be the betting favorite. This will only increase considering the rumored significant upgrade to the RB-18’s chassis for the returning Singapore Grand Prix.
While Alex Albon and the Williams were spectacular at Circuit de Spa-Francorchamps, the same beach the orange army will use for their beach party will cause problems for Williams all weekend. The Williams car does not do well in the wind, and with Circuit Zandvoort steps from the North Sea coastline, the Dutch Grand Prix doesn’t look promising for Williams. Do not pick Albon for a repeat appearance in the Qualifying session three at Circuit Zandvoort.
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