Lewis Hamilton is set for one of his biggest challenges of the season today as he chases an ‘away win’ against Max Verstappen in front of a partisan crowd, as the Dutch Grand Prix at historic Zandvoort returns to Formula 1 after 36 years away.
The sport’s thrilling 2021 season got off to something of a false re-start following the summer break at last weekend’s Belgian GP, but that rain-sabotaged Sunday still managed to affect an already close title battle.
By being awarded 12.5 points to Hamilton’s 7.5 in the half-points, two-lap Spa ‘race’, Verstappen closed the gap to just three points ahead of a weekend he has been craving ever since his F1 debut.
And the 23-year-old Dutchman is sure to be pushed on this weekend as he races in front of his orange army at home for the first time in his career.
The Dutch GP, the first since 1985, is live on Sky Sports F1 today at 2pm.
It will be the first time Hamilton has taken on one of his major title rivals at their home race since the 2018 German GP against Sebastian Vettel; a day when Vettel crashed, and Hamilton miraculously won from 14th.
He has flourished in front of his own home fans every season at Silverstone, where this year Hamilton and Verstappen crashed. Since that race, Hamilton has had to deal with boos from fans in Hungary and Belgium.
Another feisty atmosphere awaits this weekend.
Steep banking and Max mania: Zandvoort explained
Max mania has indeed been a factor in the grandstands for much of the season, but will be even more so this weekend at Zandvoort – which has been the home of all 28 Dutch GPs. Situated near Amsterdam in the north of the country, it was always a favourite with the drivers, and should be even more so this year with one notable addition.
Many corners of the 2.6-mile circuit are now banked, meaning the track inclines around the final bend.
A rarity in F1 but a regular feature on American ‘oval’ tracks, the impressive fact about the Zandvoort banking – on the last corner – is that it is actually twice as steep as the turns on the famous Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
The rest of the circuit is tight and technical, with gravel traps ready to ruin any driver’s race.
Dutch GP live schedule on Sky Sports F1
9.35am: F3 Feature Race Live
12.30pm: Dutch GP Grand Prix Sunday Live
2pm: THE DUTCH GRAND PRIX LIVE!
4pm: Dutch GP Chequered Flag Live
5pm: Ted’s Notebook Live
6pm: Dutch GP Highlights