Max Verstappen will be the centre of attention on home soil at the Dutch Grand Prix, but Red Bull plans to keep that noise under control.
The Dutch Grand Prix was effectively revived by Verstappen’s popularity, the Dutchman now having a home race where his ‘Orange Army’ can pack out the stands.
Circuit Zandvoort was reprofiled ahead of its return to the calendar, initially scheduled for 2020, though its comeback came a season later than planned due to the global pandemic.
It was certainly worth the wait though for the Dutch fans, as Verstappen claimed a dominant victory to send them into raptures.
Last season Verstappen was in the midst of a fierce title battle with Lewis Hamilton at that stage, though this time around the Dutch Grand Prix could be seen as more of a celebration with Verstappen now seemingly well on his way to claiming his second World Championship.
The demand for Verstappen then will be sky high, so Red Bull are making sure to do all they can to keep a lid on the noise going on around their driver, with the titles not officially in the bag yet.
Verstappen is 93 points clear of team-mate Sergio Perez at the top of the Drivers’ standings, while Red Bull lead the Constructors’ Championship with a buffer of 118 points over Ferrari.
Asked if the Dutch GP will be a more enjoyable affair for Red Bull this time around, team principal Christian Horner, as per GPFans, said: “I think you have to keep the pressure on because as soon as you don’t, you start making mistakes.
“So, we will approach Zandvoort with exactly the same discipline that we have done every grand prix this year.
“There are no additional activities for Max compared to a standard grand prix weekend.
“Of course, there will be an awful lot of noise around the circuit, but we will try to keep him within a bubble inside the team to try to manage expectations.
“There’s going to be a huge expectation on Max as he returns there as the world champion and with the number one on his car.
“We saw the reaction last year and I think it’s only going to step up again this year.”
Verstappen was on dominant form at the Belgian Grand Prix, 0.6s clear of the pack in qualifying, before winning the race comfortably from P14 on the grid after dropping down the order with a power unit-related penalty.
That was the first race with the FIA’s new Technical Directive in play, though Horner believes that Zandvoort will offer a sterner test of this ruling, which targetted the plank and skid blocks underneath the cars in a bid to lessen the impact of porpoising.
So, Horner would not be surprised to see Ferrari back in the mix, the same true for Mercedes.
“Zandvoort will probably be a bigger challenge [than Spa] for the new directive because it’s bumpy, it’s bouncy there,” Horner explained.
“It’s probably more akin in layout to Budapest, so Ferrari and potentially Mercedes could come back into the fray there.”