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

Jamie Woodhouse
Max Verstappen's Red Bull in front of a grandstand at the Dutch GP. Zandvoort September 2022.

Max Verstappen's Red Bull in front of a grandstand on qualifying day at the Dutch Grand Prix. Zandvoort September 2022.

The ‘Orange Army’ of Max Verstappen supporters could be a little thin for his home race with taxi drivers threatening a highly disruptive protest.

With the F1 2023 summer shutdown approaching its conclusion, the season will resume on home soil for the unstoppable force that is Verstappen.

The Red Bull driver goes into the Dutch Grand Prix on a run of eight wins in succession, knowing one more will see him match Sebastian Vettel’s record of nine, and only the bravest would bet against him reaching that landmark at Circuit Zandvoort.

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Verstappen has attracted a strong backing, known as the ‘Orange Army’, who follow him around much of the European stage of the calendar, with the Dutch Grand Prix’s return in 2021 coming about as a way to give the driver and his fans a home race to create that unique atmosphere.

However, Dutch outlet Noordhollands Dagblad report that disgruntled taxi drivers, following a decision from authorities to block those from outside the circuit’s immediate vicinity from working nearby Circuit Zandvoort across the race weekend, are planning protests in response.

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With only Zandvoort residents and local taxi services to be permitted through checkpoints heading to the circuit under this ruling, the report claims that impacted taxi drivers are threatening to block access roads to the track if action is not taken to address the situation.

“It is difficult to accept that the taxi industry can bring and pick up both existing and new customers from, to and around Zandvoort without any problems throughout the year, but is confronted with the mandatory rejection of these customers during the busiest weekend of the year,” a statement issued from the local taxi industry reads.

It goes without saying that such action risks limiting the amount of fans able to reach Circuit Zandvoort to cheer their star driver Verstappen on, likely to victory.

Verstappen has created a 125-point lead over Red Bull team-mate Sergio Perez at the top of the Drivers’ Championship, as he now marches towards his third World title in as many seasons.

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