Christian Horner suggests Lewis Hamilton or George Russell could take pole at Dutch GP

Max Verstappen will be a popular man this weekend.

Red Bull team principal, Christian Horner, has affirmed that the team are doing all they can to seal Max Verstappen off from unwanted distractions this weekend.

A mighty Dutch following is anticipated in the coming days in Zandvoort, where there were raucous scenes last year as the now world champion took a famous win.

The event was initially set for the 2020 season, but was called off to the COVID-19 pandemic, which would have prevented any spectators from attending.

Last season, 195,000 fans watched their home hero take the win in the midst of the sand dunes, and more are expected this year.

READ: Dutch GP: Max Verstappen reveals special helmet design in tribute to father

With a festival feel around the weekend, and everybody vying for some time with Verstappen, this could be a busy and exhausting weekend for the 24-year-old.

This is the reason that he went home to Monaco after the Belgian Grand Prix to get a few days’ rest before heading to the Netherlands, and he arrived on Thursday morning.

Verstappen’s win in Spa was his ninth of the season, and his third in a row, giving him a 93-point lead in the championship over team-mate Sergio Perez.

The Mexican secured the team’s fourth one-two of the year on Sunday, while Carlos Sainz finished third, and Charles Leclerc sixth for Ferrari.

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The Scuderia trail the Austrian side by 118 points in the Constructors’ Standings having been soundly beaten in round 14.

The Zandvoort Circuit is one that is expected to suit the characteristics of the F1-75 though and, while the lead in the championships are big, there is still work to do in the final eight rounds of the year.

Therefore, amid the fanfare at his home race, Verstappen needs to remain laser focused.

“I think you have to keep the pressure on because as soon as you don’t, you start making mistakes, so we will approach Zandvoort with exactly the same discipline that we have done every grand prix this year,” said Horner.

“There are no additional activities for Max compared to a standard grand prix weekend.

“Of course, there will be an awful lot of noise around the circuit but we will try to keep him within a bubble inside the team to try to manage expectations.”

George Russell took pole at the Hungarian Grand Prix for Mercedes before the summer break, before Sir Lewis Hamilton finished second ahead of the Briton.

Verstappen came back from 10th on the grid to win there, but it was harder work than Spa last time out due to the competitiveness of Red Bull’s rivals.

It might be a similar story in the Netherlands this weekend.

“It’s probably more akin in layout to Budapest so Ferrari and potentially Mercedes could come back into the fray there,” added Horner.

READ: Carlos Sainz delivers promising message to Ferrari fans

“It’s just a different type of challenge but obviously, there’s going to be a huge expectation on Max as he returns there as the world champion and with the number one on his car.

“We saw the reaction last year and I think it’s only going to step up again this year.”

A Red Bull victory this weekend, 15 rounds into the season, would see them equal their tally of wins in 22 races last year.