The new technical directive did nothing to deter Max Verstappen. Nor could the changing weather conditions across the weekend slow the commanding Red Bull. He easily glided through the field to take his second straight win starting 10th or lower. Neither the Mercedes nor the Ferrari were anywhere near Verstappen’s pace. But with Zandvoort a vastly different circuit from Spa, there is hope that the Dutch Grand Prix will prove to be a more competitive race.
Prior to the Belgian Grand Prix, Audi announced they will be joining Formula 1 starting in 2026. While their stated plans are limited to an engine supplier role, reports indicate they could be looking to take over the Alfa Romeo-Sauber team, with Alfa Romero exiting after next season.
And the driver market rumor mill continues to heat since last week, including the introduction of a potential surprise American driver. With the second seat looking to remain open regardless of the result of the Oscar Piastri case, the French team may be set to add a second French driver. Reports indicate that Alpha Tauri (and Red Bull) will allow Pierre Gasly to leave if he receives a true offer from Alpine. The Red Bull Academy offers plenty of possibilities to fill the Alpha Tauri seat from Formula 2 and Formula 3, but apparently, American IndyCar driver Colton Herta is in also contention.
Where Things Stand
A third straight victory and his ninth already this season. Max Verstappen (284) is not only cruising to a second World Championship but looks set to better his win and point tally from 2021. Verstappen now leads his teammate Sergio Perez (191) by 93 points. And while the title may already be decided, the race between 2nd through 5th will be intriguing to watch. Charles Leclerc (186), Carlos Sainz (171), & George Russell (170), are all within distance to overtake Perez.
Meanwhile, in the Constructors Championship Red Bull extended their lead by another 21 points to take their advantage over Ferrari up to 118. With mathematically still at play, 2022 will be Red Bulls’ first team title since 2013 after eight years of dominance by Mercedes. The battles to watch for the rest of the season start with Ferrari & Mercedes over second, with the Italian side regaining the momentum after a Mercedes double podium in Hungary. Can Aston Martin’s recent gains see them move from 9th up to 7th before the end of the season?
After the high-speed runs of the longest circuit on the F1 calendar at Spa (4.3-miles), F1 heads to one of the shortest tracks in Zandvoort (2.6-miles). The circuit will feature two DRS zones, the long straight that crosses the start/finish line and another along the second half of the lap, setting up two frequent overtaking spots in Turn 1 and Turn 11. But with 14 turns, the Dutch Grand Prix is dominated by its corners. Fast and flowing, the best descriptor for Zandvoort is a rollercoaster-like feel.
How To Watch (all times ET)
- Practice 1 – Friday 9/2 – 6:25 am – ESPNU/ESPN Deportes/WatchESPN
- Practice 2 – Friday 9/2 – 9:50 am – ESPN2/ESPN Deportes/WatchESPN
- Belgian GP Preview Show: Friday 9/2 – 11:15 am – ESPN3/WatchESPN
- Practice 3 – Saturday 9/3 – 5:55 am – ESPN2/ESPN Deportes/WatchESPN
- Qualifying – Saturday 9/3 – 8:55 am – ESPN2/ESPN Deportes/WatchESPN
- Grand Prix Sunday (Pre-race Show) – Sunday 9/4 – 7:30 am – ESPN/ESPN Deportes/WatchESPN
- Grand Prix Race – Sunday 9/4 – 8:55 am – ESPN/ESPN Deportes/WatchESPN
DraftKings Sportsbook is offering odds on the race. Max Verstappen is dominating Formula 1 at the moment and heads to his home race as the clear favorite at -200. The expectation is so high for a fourth straight win for the reigning Champion that Carlos Sainz has the third best odds at +900. His Ferrari teammate, Charles Leclerc, is the second favorite at Zandvoort at +370, while the Mercedes teammates sit as massive underdogs at +1200 (Lewis Hamilton) and +1800 (George Russell). Despite strong runs at Spa, both Pierre Gasly (+150) and Alex Albon (+225) have favorable odds to finish inside the top ten once again.
What to Watch For
- Can anyone respond to Red Bull? While there were some hoping the new technical directive might bring Red Bull back to the pack, if anything it displayed their design masterclass under the new 2022 regulations. Or how much of that gap was track specific? Zandvoort and Spa are two very different circuits. Ferrari and Mercedes will be hoping that plays to their advantage and put them back in the mix for the top step on Sunday.
- Movie Inspiration. The 1966 F1 classic film Grand Prix, starring James Garner, visited the banked turns of Zandvoort. More recently the track appeared in the 2013 film Rush starring Chris Hemsworth as James Hunt and Daniel Brühl as Niki Lauda. The Dutch Grand Prix was home to Hunt’s first-ever F1 victory and the only win for the much smaller Hesketh Racing team going up against Lauda’s Ferrari.
- The Piastri Decision. This week the Contract Recognition Board (CRB) will hear and decide on the contract dispute between Alpine and their reserve driver Oscar Piastri. Is he bound to a contract with the French team and if so, where can he race next season? Even if Alpine win the case they likely would no longer use Piastri to partner with Ocon for 2023. And how might the ruling impact McLaren’s second seat, where Piastri is assumed to have discussed a move?
- Hamilton’s Response. Lap 1 of the Belgian Grand Prix saw a rare mistake by 7-time F1 Champion Lewis Hamilton. In interviews after the incident, Hamilton took full blame for the collision. Based on George Russell’s pace throughout the race, Hamilton could have very easily been set for yet another podium had he avoided the coming together which would have put him in second place a few turns after the start. Zandvoort, a track that may tip back towards Mercedes’ strengths, is Hamilton’s chance to put that error behind him and continue searching for that elusive win this season.
- Where is Alfa Romeo? The team linked with a future Audi move has struggled lately. The team scored points in seven of the first nine races, twice with both drivers getting into the top ten. Since then the team has picked up zero points and suffered three DNFs. While Alfa Romeo still has a 17-point gap they can’t afford to continue this trend with Alpha Tauri, Aston Martin, and Williams all picking up points at Spa. Zhou Guanyu could use a bit of luck as he looks to secure a place with the team for 2023.
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