In the charming coastal county of Zandvoort, Netherlands, Max Verstappen made public an act of solidarity received from fellow Formula 1 champion Sebastian Vettel earlier this year. The message of support was extended when Vettel realized Verstappen had a fighting chance to rival his own record of 9 consecutive grand prix wins.
Verstappen is on the verge of potentially making that history. As pole-sitter for Sunday’s anticipated Dutch Grand Prix, a win on his home track will allow him to align himself with Vettel, thus potentially tying a record last achieved in late 2013.
Recounting events earlier this year, Verstappen stated that the message came from Vettel after he secured his fifth consecutive win at the Austrian Grand Prix. Vettel, in his text, not only praised Verstappen’s skill but also prodded him to pursue the nine victories mark.
The Dutch champion quoted, “After five wins in a row, Seb texted me and said well done with what you are doing, keep it up and you are going to do it.” However, the prospect of achieving nine consecutive wins seemed distant, at best, to Verstappen. As he noted, “Nine wins in a row is something very impressive and I never thought I would be able to already be on eight.”
While achieving this historic record is within striking distance, Verstappen doesn’t seem to be preoccupied with that. He puts in perspective, “So if it’s possible tomorrow, of course I go for it. But it’s not something I have in the back of my head constantly, I’m not in the sport to try and break records. I’m here to win in the moment.”
Looking to disrupt Verstappen’s winning streak is Lando Norris. The racer is second on the grid for the upcoming Dutch Grand Prix and has the best chance of preventing Verstappen from equalling Vettel’s record. Yet, he acknowledges Verstappen’s consistent performance with Red Bull this season.
The McLaren racer observed, “I think in the race we have got no chance unless he gets unlucky and something happens. He’s a very good driver in a very good car and he is just doing the job that he needs to do. Full respect to that.”
Although he acknowledges Verstappen’s skill, Norris doesn’t see him as invincible. “But I wouldn’t say he is unbeatable, because on a day like today he can make a mistake — sadly he doesn’t, but it can happen. It happens to everyone and it can still happen to him.”
With an air of quiet expectancy, Norris concluded, “There’s a time and a place and we are all still waiting for it to happen — just not today.”