The F1 summer break is now well and truly in our rearview mirrors, and that means that the race action is flying thick and fast. We ended the summer break with the Belgian Grand Prix, and just a week later, we’re set to witness the Dutch Grand Prix this time around. Here is the preview of F1 2022 Dutch GP.
Max Verstappen returns
It’s safe to say that there’s a lot of excitement surrounding this race because when Formula One returned to the Netherlands last year, the atmosphere was electric, the race was competitive, and people are definitely looking forward to more action from the Zandvoort circuit. Max Verstappen returned to racing immediately after the summer break, recording an absolutely dominant win at the Belgian Grand Prix of Spa-Francorchamps F1, where he was quite comfortably the fastest car ahead, finishing nearly 18 seconds ahead of Sergio Perez, his teammate, who was driving the exact same car.
Can anyone stop this from happening, especially considering that even if Belgium had a few Verstappen fans, the Netherlands would go crazy with the Max Army and the Orange Army showing up in full force to support their man, who was a contender for the world championship last year. He comes back as the defending champion and the favourite to actually take his second straight title on the trot. The real question is, can anyone actually stop this guy at this point?
It seems very very unlikely, especially considering Ferrari has a mix of issues to deal with. Charles Leclerc ended up finishing a distant fifth in that race. In fact, he was relegated to six due to a late five-second penalty for speeding in the pit lane.
This means that his title hopes, barring anything absolutely exceptional happening, are all but over. The real question now is what it is that Ferrari should be aiming to do. Should they go full steam ahead and try and compete for the title? Even though it seems like Verstappen and Red Bull already have one hand on it. Or should they aim to consolidate second place because, remember, while they may have a faster car than Mercedes, Mercedes has better reliability and strategies? Something that Ferrari has lacked for most of this season and they would actually not want to slip from second to third in the constructors’ championship.
Keeping an eye on Lewis Hamilton
Because, of course, the constructor’s championship determines how much money you get in terms of prize money. So you want to finish higher to get more of a payoff from, of course, the competition. So what is it that Ferrari should do? If you ask me, they should look to compete for wins, but at this point, the title race seems all but over. So the main goal should be to avoid Lewis Hamilton.
Lewis Hamilton had probably the worst race of his career this season at the Belgian Grand Prix. He ended up clattering into Alonso and doing something that he took credit for and said, “You know what, that was my fault. I shouldn’t have done what I did and I apologies to Fernando.” However, Alonso still managed to end up fifth.
Hamilton, on the other hand, had to retire the car early on and didn’t end up taking a point finish despite the fact that his teammate George Russell actually ended up finishing fifth. So obviously, Hamilton would be looking to bounce back. But the real question for him and George Russell and Mercedes, of course, is what exactly that car is going to look like.
The new w-13 Mercedes 2022
To put it mildly, the w-13 Mercedes 2022 car has been a diva on this particular circuit. It’s looked very good on certain tracks; it’s looked very off the pace in others; and in some cases, it’s just kind of been there. because it will be crucial. The car clearly does have speed, but the operating window for it to be at its optimal best seems to be very small, and Mercedes still hasn’t quite figured it out.
Will they be able to figure it out? That’s something that only time will tell, but for them, it is important that they are able to figure it out so that they can get closer to a podium finish. but also to claim their first race win of the season, because if they manage to finish this year without a race win, it’ll be the first time since 2012 that they’ll be finishing without a race win. which is massive, especially considering this is the same team that has won eight straight constructors’ championships and seven straight world titles.
But enough of the big teams, and let’s look at the best of the rest in the midfield, which clearly consists of, of course, McLaren and Alpine. Both McLaren and Alpine have looked much better and more consistent in recent times. That’s why they’re pulling ahead in that battle for fourth place. But you can’t just ride off McLaren just yet because, like Mercedes, their cars seem better suited for certain tracks. So in some places they look like a strong midfield contender, in other places they’re fighting for spots at the back of the grid.
Alpine vs McLaren
Of course, what cannot be debated is that it’s going to be both of these drivers, McLaren’s Lando Norris and, of course, Fernando Alonso of Alpine, who will be key to whatever chances they have of maximising their points. Which of these drivers will do better? It’s a fact that McLaren’s Daniel Ricciardo has struggled horribly, and Esteban Ocon is someone who’s a solid but unspectacular driver at alpine. So it’s definitely going to be the battle between these two that you’ll be keeping an eye out for in F1 2022 Dutch GP.
Another team in the middle of the field that has seen a slight improvement in the last race is, of course, Aston Martin. Again, Aston Martin has absolutely struggled this year. It’s continued the theme they’ve had from last season when there were high expectations but next to nothing in terms of results. This year too, they’ve actually had two different car concepts, the second one being tagged as a Red Bull clone. But Belgium did offer up some encouraging signs because Sebastian Vettel ended up getting a very respectable eighth place finish.
So the real question now is, can Aston Martin actually kick on and solidify themselves in that midfield ? Maybe you’d get to fifth or sixth place because, again, you’d remember that the other teams who started the season well have kind of tailed off . Alfa Romeo started the season well, but they haven’t looked good in recent times. Of course, there is some bad luck in that regard, but that can’t be discounted. In fact, since the time they’ve introduced the upgrade, or their one and only upgrade in Hungary, the car has actually looked slow, and it didn’t look good in Belgium either.
So the key is.. Is now the time for Aston Martin to strike and demonstrate that, yes, he can compete for points in the midfield and that he might even do better next season? Especially since Sebastian Vettel will be retiring next year and they’ll be getting an Alonso eager to show that he can still compete with the best of the best. But this Aston Martin car hasn’t been anywhere close to that, so interesting times for, of course, this team, the Silverstone base team. Can they actually keep that going? That’s going to be something that we definitely keep an eye out on in this particular race in F1 2022 Dutch GP.
F1 2022 Dutch GP Race details : Date: Sun, 4 Sept, 6:30 Pm IST, Track: Circuit Zandvoort