MAX VERSTAPPEN

In his home coun­try Max Verstappen is idolised to a de­gree that’s hard to ex­plain… but we’ll give it our best shot! F1R spent a week­end with him at the for­mer venue of the Dutch GP and watched him smash the lap record in a Red Bull RB8

F1 Racing - - CONTENTS - JAMES ROBERTS MAL­COLM GRIF­FITHS

As the sun rises, the life­guards move into po­si­tion. Flags are hoisted and ice-cream ven­dors stack their wafer cones for busi­ness. It’s go­ing to be an­other scorcher. The busy dou­bledecker trains pull into the nal stop on the line and hol­i­day­mak­ers swarm ant-like out of Zand­voort aan Zee sta­tion. But to­day, they are not ock­ing to the sandy beaches. They are turn­ing their backs to the waves and head­ing in­land to the dunes to watch their hero per­form. The for­mer home of the Dutch Grand Prix will to­day res­onate to the sound of For­mula 1 ma­chin­ery, 32 years af­ter the last world cham­pi­onship race was held here.

In a garage at the top of the pit­lane sits a Red Bull RB8. There’s no need for slick pre­sen­ta­tion; this is F1 in the raw. As the count­down to a show run ticks down, more fans clam­ber up the sandy dunes for a bet­ter view. Around the track, chil­dren press their faces up against the chain-link fences to catch a glimpse of the car and, most im­por­tantly, the driver.

Greeted by whoops from the crowd, Max Verstappen, 19, nally ap­pears, anked by his en­tourage as he coolly strolls down the pit­lane. He smiles and waves to his fans as he en­ters the garage. Mar­shals clear the pit­lane as the V8 bur­bles into life. Lo­cal pho­tog­ra­phers are lit­er­ally shak­ing as they try to line up the Dutch na­tional hero in their viewnders as he low­ers him­self into the cock­pit of the 2012 ma­chine.

Once he’s strapped in, he blips the throt­tle and the roar thrills those who can hear but not yet see him. The ten­sion builds around the track. Then stan­dard For­mula 1 pro­ce­dures take over. His en­gi­neer walks back­wards out into the pit­lane, sig­nals for the four tyre warm­ers to be re­moved, and com­mands Max to take to the track. The car clunks for­ward into rst gear and he

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