Max Verstappen at risk of home race upset as major protest planned for Dutch GP
Max Verstappen is facing an unexpected obstacle ahead of his home race at Zandvoort later this month with taxi drivers threatening to shut down the roads to the circuit which would prevent fans from accessing the venue following a regulation change from local authorities.
These protests are brewing in response to a recent letter from the authorities, which will impact taxi drivers’ revenue during the weekend. Verstappen’s ‘Orange Army’ travel in bigger numbers than any other fanbase and have made this event a sight to behold thus far, but their attendance could be impacted should the conflict not be resolved.
The tourism industry in Zandvoort receives a major annual boost from the Dutch Grand Prix, which was reintroduced to the calendar following a lengthy spell away in time for the immense title battle of the 2021 campaign.
Given the municipality has a population of just over 17,000 people, it is important that local businesses can maximise their income throughout the weekend. However, following a change in the organisation of the event, taxi companies from outside the immediate vicinity will be unable to operate near the circuit on the race weekend.
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As reported by Dutch news outlet Noordhollands Dagblad, this has caused outrage amongst local taxi drivers who usually capitalise on the footfall in the region throughout the Dutch GP weekend to boost their earnings.
Under the new rules, only the small pool of residents in Zandvoort and taxi companies in the immediate area will be awarded the pass-through certification that will allow them to bypass checkpoints en-route to the circuit throughout the weekend. This will make it impossible for local companies to ferry spectators in from further afar.
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This revelation, detailed to local companies in a letter earlier this week, has not gone down well with a protest on the race weekend now being discussed. According to the NHD report, local taxi companies are considering a blockade of the access roads to the circuit should matters not be resolved.
A statement from the local taxi industry explained: “It is difficult to accept that the taxi industry can bring and pick up both existing and new customers from, to and around Zandvoort without any problems throughout the year, but is confronted with the mandatory rejection of these customers during the busiest weekend of the year.”
Fortunately for Verstappen, there are likely to be no major hurdles on track during his home Grand Prix. The Dutch driver can pull level with Sebastian Vettel on nine consecutive race wins should he manage to see off the threat of struggling Red Bull team-mate Sergio Perez.
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