Verstappen chasing history on home soil as F1 season resumes
The 2023 Formula One season resumes this week at the Dutch Grand Prix, with Max Verstappen chasing more history on home soil.
The season has been dominated by the success of Red Bull and Verstappen, who holds a massive 125-point lead in the standings over teammate Sergio Perez.
Following the mid-season break, the 25-year-old Verstappen is looking to match Sebastian Vettel’s F1 record of nine straight wins by taking the checkered flag on Sunday.
The Dutch star traded wins with Perez through the first four races of the year, but has since taken over as the circuit's dominant driver, most recently picking up the victory at the Belgium Grand Prix despite starting sixth on the grid.
Sitting at 10 wins already, Verstappen has a strong chance of breaking his own F1 record of 15 wins in a season, set just last year, with 10 races still to come this season.
While Verstappen has yet to finish worse than second in any race this season, Perez has been less reliable this season. The Mexican driver has finished outside of the top three in five races, including a 16th place finish in Monaco.
He has, however, managed to reach the podium in three of the past four races and plans to remain there moving forward.
“It’s been a bit of a rough patch,” Perez said following his second-place finish at the Belgium Grand Prix ahead of the break. “I really look forward to not leaving the podium anymore from now until the end of the year.”
Fernando Alonso's success has been one of the surprises of the season, with the Aston Martin driver sitting third in points, with a narrow one-point lead over Lewis Hamilton. Alonso, though, is still 40 points behind Perez for second place.
With Red Bull running away with the Constructor's Championship (at 503 points), the race remains on for second place. Mercedes enters the second half of the season in second with 247 points, holding a significant lead over Aston Martin, who have 196 points, and Ferrari at 191.
Ferrari's Charles Leclerc has finished in the points in eight of the past nine races after being forced to retire in two of the first three races. Leclerc was third at the Belgium Grand Prix before the break, but said the team could not have expected any better result.
“This was the best we could achieve today, no doubt,” the Monégasque driver said after the race.
McLaren sit fifth in the constructor's standings with 103 points. The team has appeared to turn its season around after a tough start, with Lando Norris finishing second in back-to-back races in Great Britain and Hungary and Oscar Piastri picking up a top-five finish at both of those circuits.
Sitting last in the standings with just three points this season, AlphaTauri made the decision to replace Nyck de Vries with veteran Daniel Ricciardo two weeks before the break. Ricciardo, who had his contract bought out by McLaren last year, had been serving as a reserve driver for Red Bull.
The 34-year-old Australian has yet to find points for AlphaTauri, with a 13th-place finish in Hungary and a 16th place result in Belgium.
Following this week's race in the Netherlands, the European portion of the schedule will conclude with the Italian Grand Prix before the circuit then heads to Singapore, Japan, and Qatar.