Sebastian Vettel will have no hard feelings if Max Verstappen equals, the retired German’s decade-old Formula 1 record of nine victories in a row today at Zandvoort.
Verstappen will start his home Dutch Grand Prix from pole position and clear favourite to win at Zandvoort for the third year in succession.
If he does win, and equals Vettel’s 2013 record with Red Bull, the 25-year-old can then go one better at Italy’s Monza in a week’s time. The only winner at the venue since its return to the calendar after an absence since 1985.
The runaway championship leader told reporters after qualifying that four times world champion Vettel had texted him a message of encouragement: “I think after like five wins in a row or something like that, Seb texted me, you know ‘well done, what you’re doing at the moment, keep it up’ and something like: you’re going to do it.
“But you know, I was like, ‘that’s nine wins in a row, it’s something very impressive’ and I never thought I will be able to be already on eight.
“I mean, if it’s possible tomorrow of course I’ll go for it, but it’s not something I have in the back of my head, constantly like ‘I need to do this, I need to do this’. I’m not in this sport to try and break records. I’m just here to win in the moment,” reckoned Verstappen.
Can Max be beaten on home soil?
Zandvoort is not the easiest track to overtake on and the Red Bull ace qualified more than half a second faster than McLaren’s Lando Norris.
McLaren have looked quick but Red Bull have won the last 13 races, and 21 of the last 22, and have generally been further ahead on Sundays than Saturdays.
“Max was too quick again for us today but I gave it a good shot,” said Norris, who has yet to stand on top of the Formula One podium.
“I think in the race, at the minute, we’ve kind of got no chance unless someone gets unlucky or he gets unlucky and something happens.
“Just got a very good driver in a good car and he’s doing the job he needs to do. So I think full respect to that.”
Norris said there was always a chance of Verstappen making a mistake, however: “It happens to everyone and it can still happen to him. So there’s a time and a place and we’re kind of still waiting, everyone’s waiting for it to happen, but just not today.” (Reporting by Alan Baldwin)