So the return to Zandvoort played out just as the promoter would have wished, albeit without the drama that has characterised several races this year.
The Dutch Grand Prix wasn’t as dull as Spa last week, admittedly, but paradoxically it wasn’t as memorable either.
A routine win for Max Verstappen may have wowed the orange clad hordes on the sidelines and the legions of Verstappen fans around the globe but it hardly engaged the neutrals if you’ll apologise the transmission pun.
Let’s hope the powers that be in F1 knock some heads together and extend the DRS zone to include the final corner, a move that would certainly make that final bend interesting and the run to Tarzan even more compelling.
The circuit itself, overtaking issues aside, was probably the star of the weekend. The elevation and camber changes around the sand dunes on the North Sea coast have always been a unique and popular challenge for drivers and the latest iteration of the Noord Holland venue gained widespread approval from the watching public as well as the machine operators threading their way around it.
Among the drivers, Verstappen’s virtuosity rendered the result a foregone conclusion within a few laps, regardless of the veneer of respectability around Mercedes’s strategy switch which kept Hamilton close until the final laps.
The contrast between Verstappen and team mate Sergio Perez remains stark and only serves to show the Dutchman in an even more favourable light. A battling eighth for Perez after starting from the pitlane following a troubled qualifying was a solid effort but did little to bolster his reputation nor Verstappen’s bid for title honours.
Hamilton’s qualifying effort was impressive but Mercedes were left admitting, not for the first time this year, that their strategy call on Hamilton’s second pit stop might have been better timed. Strategy is usually easier when you have the fastest car, mind, something that Mercedes didn’t this weekend.
Fernando Alonso also impressed passing his team mate Esteban Ocon on the way to sixth in the Alpine, the Spaniard showing that not all veterans need to be handed a P45 in the week that Kimi Raikkonen announced his impending retirement and promptly contracted Covid 19.
Robert Kubica is a gifted racing driver but is surely now a spent force at F1 level and it seems a missed opportunity not to have explored the rich seam of highly developed and intensely motivated talent which exists below F1 in asking him to replace Raikkonen at short notice.
No doubt commercial considerations complicate the logic but a more creative replacement driver plan would teach us more about who can come into the big show.
Speaking of emerging talent, the simmering rage which seems to be festering in the Haas camp between neophytes Nikita Mazepin and nemesis Mick Schumacher is entertaining but needs to be nipped in the bud before things get too serious.
Regardless of the fact that his team boss says no one was to blame for their first lap clash, Schumacher’s complaints about Mazepin only counter similar Mazepin gripes about the German after qualifying.
No doubt the editors of Drive to Survive Season 4 are already salivating at the prospect of splicing Gunther Steiner’s expletive-laden invective into the narrative.