Max Verstappen's orange army of disciples await his pre-coronation

Max Verstappen’s orange army await Formula One star’s pre-coronation in Zandvoort as Red Bull hero has record books in his sights at the Dutch Grand Prix

  • Max Verstappen’s orange disciples are out in force at the Dutch Grand Prix 
  • The two-time world champion is aiming to win his ninth successive race 
  • Max Verstappen is the best driver not drinking thanks to Heineken 0.0 

On the sand dunes of Zandvoort an orange party is underway, and the bitter North Sea rain has done little to dampen the mood among the masses with Heineken 0.0 in hand.

The script is seemingly already written for Max Verstappen. The Dutch hero returns to his homeland in search of a ninth-successive Formula One win, a feat achieved only by Sebastian Vettel a decade ago. 

Having established a gulf in class between himself and his competition throughout this dominant campaign, what could possibly go wrong for the two-time world champion?

Of course, this is Formula One and nothing is guaranteed. Earlier this week, Daniel Ricciardo, Verstappen’s former teammate who dramatically bowed out of Sunday’s race after breaking his wrist in practice, commented on the Dutchman’s unstoppable form.

‘I think you definitely get to a place where… you breed confidence and find the rhythm,’ he told Mail Sport. ‘We are seeing it with Max now with his confidence with the car, it’s almost effortless.

Max Verstappen achieved another pole position as he bids to win his ninth-successive race

Brought back into the fold two years ago, the short, fast-paced circuit twists around hair-raising slopes where speeds can hit as high as 330km/h

Verstappen’s former teammate Daniel Ricciardo was forced to miss the race weekend after sustaining a wrist injury during practice on Friday

‘When you get in this rhythm it creates what I feel is a flow but you can’t take it for granted because every track is different.’

There’s nothing quite like Zandvoort on the F1 calendar. Brought back into the fold two years ago, the short, fast-paced circuit twists around hair-raising slopes where speeds can hit as high as 330km/h – it’s the sort of track tailor-made for a driver as fearless as Verstappen, and he’s ready to deliver.

Seventeen miles away, in Amsterdam, a palpable expectation has swept the city’s famous canals and into the hearts of Verstappen’s followers ahead of this pre-coronation, giving him all the more motivation to reach the top step of the podium.

It’s hard to escape the Dutchman’s influence here. Billboards of Verstappen holding a bottle of Heineken 0.0, an ear-to-ear grin spread across his face, are strewn across the city. 

The hordes of fans making the short cycle from Haarlem to the coast whizz past houses plastered with Dutch and Red Bull flags. Those who choose to dodge the rain head for the metro – where the train for Zandvoort has been renamed ‘Max Express’ for this weekend only.

Make no mistake, Verstappen is the main event, and the other 19 drivers are merely the support cast.

As the rain pours, the orange disciples pile into the grandstands around the circuit, a melting pot of noise simmering away and ready to explode into life.

The torrid downpour fails to hush this cacophony as Verstappen roars out of his garage for qualifying. Session One: P2. Session Two: P1. Barring a shock lap from Alex Albon or Oscar Piastri, the Dutchman is well on his way for a spot at the front of the grid.

But unfortunate crashes for Logan Sargeant and Charles Leclerc bring pause to the proceedings. The pair’s collisions see red flags waved, the drivers called in yet, up in the stands, the party kicks up a notch.

The Zandvoort crowd were in great voice during the opening days of the weekend

The two-time world champion enjoys incredible support at his home Grand Prix of Zandvoort

Verstappen turned in another stellar performance to pip Lando Norris (left) to pole position on the grid

In true Dutch fashion, electronic remixes of Hey Jude, Let It Be and Sweet Caroline are blasted around the circuit. The masses respond in their droves, singing and dancing with full gusto – the mood is merry, but not boozy.

Back on the track, and we’re close to boiling point as the cars emerge for one last shot at P1. Here comes Max, rounding the final corner triggers a Mexican wave of noise all the way down the home straight. He crosses the line… 1:10.567! 

Those unknowing of this vociferous crowd would be forgiven for likening the sound that followed to a scene from a recent Christopher Nolan film, but no, this is the orange army at its ear-piercing climax. A hush descends as Lando Norris follows, but he’s not troubling the king as he crosses half a second slower, and a second booming cry reverberates.

Verstappen, wearing the proud face of a man who’s just stepped afoot the top of a mountain, beamed: ‘The pressure is always there to perform but when you can pull it off, it’s incredible.’

On Sunday, the fans make the same journey all over again. Here’s hoping they’ll leave on Cloud Nine.

Max Verstappen is the best driver not drinking thanks to Heineken 0.0 

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