Dutch GP protest threat as Max Verstappen talks Mercedes switch – F1 news round-up

Jamie Woodhouse
Max Verstappen getting ready before a practice session. Barcelona, Spain, June 2023.

Max Verstappen getting ready before a practice session. Barcelona, Spain, June 2023.

It is time to bring you up to speed with the key talking points from another busy day in the world of Formula 1.

As the season nears its resumption at Circuit Zandvoort, a key rule change could decimate the ‘Orange Army’ in attendance, while their home hero, Max Verstappen, has responded to the suggestion of driving for Red Bull’s rivals Mercedes in the future, a prospect which he did not shut down.

Let us then dive into the action…

Taxi drivers threaten to disrupt Dutch GP

Verstappen has another record in sight as he returns to home soil, knowing that Dutch Grand Prix victory would be his ninth win in a row and see him match the benchmark currently set by Sebastian Vettel.

But, Dutch outlet Noordhollands Dagblad report that disgruntled taxi drivers are threatening to block access roads to the track during the race weekend, following a controversial decision from authorities.

The ruling reportedly prevents taxi drivers not in the immediate vicinity from passing through the checkpoints heading towards the circuit, which could therefore heavily impact members of the ‘Orange Army’ in their efforts to get to the track if a protest comes to pass.

Read more: Protest threatens to decimate ‘Orange Army’ as Max Verstappen readies for home race

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Max Verstappen not closing door on driving for Mercedes

There was a time, before Verstappen burst onto the scene in Formula 1, where if the cards had have fallen differently, then Verstappen may be racing in the series with Mercedes these days.

Alas, Red Bull won the race for his signature, and the rest is history as they say.

Red Bull pride themselves on going against the grain, their perceived approach more relaxed than that of Mercedes’ more corporate image, but while there is no suggestion of Verstappen joining Mercedes anytime soon, he does not think that culture shift would put such a move off limits.

“If a team really wants me in such a situation, they will also go for you and I think you can also slightly adjust certain things,” Verstappen replied to De Telegraaf when asked if he could work in such an environment?

“Then you come together, so to speak.”

Read more: Max Verstappen not opposed to racing for ‘very different’ Mercedes

Lewis Hamilton’s worrying verdict on Red Bull dominance

Hamilton is currently leading the Mercedes charge to reel Verstappen and Red Bull in, with team-mate George Russell not far behind, but the signs are not promising.

Mercedes have been left to battle with McLaren, Aston Martin and Ferrari while Verstappen and Red Bull stretch clear, the team boasting a perfect record of 12 wins from 12 in F1 2023.

And Hamilton fears this Red Bull dominance could be set in long-term.

“We shouldn’t have a chance to dominate for a large number of years, the battle for top positions should be closer,” Sportskeeda quotes the seven-time World Champion as having told Channel 4.

“Unfortunately, however, Red Bull could seriously dominate in the next three seasons as well.”

Read more: Lewis Hamilton’s ‘unfortunate’ verdict on Red Bull’s dominance

McLaren and Alex Palou saga heads to court

While Verstappen and Red Bull are a match made in heaven, right now McLaren and IndyCar Championship leader Alex Palou find themselves at odds with each other.

It all revolves around Palou’s refusal to honour his contract signed with McLaren, their current F1 reserve not prepared to race for their IndyCar team in 2024.

It seems though McLaren are now out for compensation, rather than forcing Palou to honour the deal, as according to the IndyStar newspaper, McLaren Racing Limited and McLaren Indy have jointly sued Palou and his racing entity, ALPA Racing USA, in separate lawsuits in the UK.

Read more: McLaren and Alex Palou to meet in court after team files lawsuits

Bernie Ecclestone denies knowledge of quotes on Felipe Massa

On the topic of lawsuits, Massa is now involved in one of his own as he seeks compensation over the 2008 World Championship outcome, Formula 1 boss at the time, Bernie Ecclestone, having recently discussed the impact of that year’s ‘Crashgate’ scandal on the title picture.

Lewis Hamilton would ultimately break the hearts of Massa and his home nation by snatching the World title at Interlagos.

But, Ecclestone has now said he does not remember ever doing this interview with F1-Insider, where he had made the claim that Massa was “cheated” out of the 2008 World Championship.

“I don’t remember any of this, to be honest,” Ecclestone told Reuters.

Read more: Ex-F1 supremo denies knowledge of comments central to Felipe Massa lost title claim

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