While Max Verstappen needs little more than to show up the rest of the season to claim his third Formula 1 championship, he's still chasing records.
The next record on Verstappen's hit list is the F1 mark for consecutive victories.
Sebastian Vettel set the all-time mark with nine consecutive wins in 2013, while Verstappen is currently on an eight-race win streak.
Formula 1 returns from its summer recess this weekend with the paddock refreshed and reset but not expecting anything other than another Max Verstappen party.
Thanks to a calendar reshuffle, the Dutch Grand Prix—at the charming coastal resort of Zandvoort, Netherlands—is now the opening event of the second half of the season.
The short walk between Zandvoort-aan-Zee railway station—the terminus for those arriving from nearby capital Amsterdam—and Circuit Zandvoort takes fans between the flat-roofed bricked houses that are festooned with banners, flags and loud music showing support for the event, for the Netherlands and, more prominently, for hometown hero Verstappen.
The Grand Prix’s resurrection in 2021 was only possible because of Verstappen’s success and popularity in his homeland, with spectators clad in the country’s orange packing into the old-school venue that perches in the undulating dunes next to the North Sea.
“I think nobody like 10 years ago even thought about a Grand Prix here and that we’re able to do that now is just fantastic and hopefully it will continue for a while,” said Verstappen on Thursday. “For me it’s amazing to be here, to see all the fans, and drive such an incredible track.”
Verstappen sent Zandvoort into raptures in 2021 with a dominant victory from pole position and last year replicated the feat by passing the off-strategy Lewis Hamilton in the final stint.
That victory was Verstappen’s fourth in a row in what turned out to be a five-race streak but this season he has an opportunity to match Sebastian Vettel’s record of nine successive victories.
Verstappen has won 10 Grands Prix from 12 starts in total this season, including all of the last eight, and has been untroubled in the majority, thanks to his supremacy, Sergio Perez’s Saturday struggles, and the inconsistency and performance deficit displayed by Mercedes, Aston Martin and Ferrari.
If Verstappen makes it nine-in-a-row on Sunday then he will equal the record set by Sebastian Vettel in 2013.
“We’ll just try to keep on doing the same thing, that would be nice, but of course after a break you never know how you get back into things,” said Verstappen.
Red Bull’s advantage is such that Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc suggested rivals may not be able to overtake them until the next set of regulations are introduced in 2026.
“That’s what we’re trying to work towards but for sure they have a really big margin and it’s going to be very difficult to catch them before the change of regulations,” said Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc. “There is still a lot of work to do. We have some developments in the next few races that can help us do a step forward but also with this car we can have some unexpected surprise because they are so sensitive cars that a small change can have a big influence. And hopefully it will be the case for us.”
Mercedes driver George Russell was nonetheless more optimistic of a turnaround before 2026.
“When you look at the turn of form Aston Martin has, the turn of form McLaren had, there’s optimism that it can happen,” said Russell.
“Red Bull will continue to improve, it’ll be difficult for sure, but we saw Red Bull catch Mercedes in the Mercedes era, in 2021, and that was kind of unforeseen as 2020 was dominant for Mercedes, yet in 2021 Red Bull started quickest.”