"The hills are alive with the... sight of orange-clad hordes of fans".
That was the view across the Austrian Grand Prix on Sunday in what turned out to be the type of thriller Formula 1 hasn't been treated to often enough this season.
Those orange-clad Dutch fans got what they wanted - albeit with delayed confirmation.
Jesus. #F1 #AustrianGP pic.twitter.com/SUeWzasyvv
— Thomas Maher (@thomasmaheronf1) June 30, 2019
As F1's two brightest young stars battled side-by-side on the A1 Ring, it was Max Verstappen who nudged his way to supremacy over the Ferrari of Charles Leclerc.
Given the aggression of the move, it required a stewards decision. They deemed his overtake to be a racing incident, rather than one necessitating a penalty.
That controversy aside, Austria was further indication of Verstappen's continued development.
After a terrible start, the Dutchman was outstanding in the second half of the race, battling back in his typical daring style to win his sixth Grand Prix.
He has always been precocious, quick and aggressive. But the latter trait has sometimes derailed him. However, we've got to remember how young he still is and the record-breaking age he first arrived in F1 in 2015.
And this season in the wake of Daniel Ricciardo's switch to Renault, he has been the undisputed team lead in Red Bull and has added consistency. In the nine Grand Prix in 2019, Verstappen has yet to finish outside the Top 5 in a campaign when Red Bull have been behind the dominant Mercedes and also the Ferrari. That's left him third in the Championship above both Ferrari drivers. Contrast that with team-mate Pierre Gasly who is 83 points behind him and has also achieved just one Top 5 finish.
But the race also gave us a window into the future in different ways. While the 21-year-old Verstappen has won numerous races already, this is likely his first of many race-leading battles with Leclerc.
The two had sparred previously in their youth - a relative term for two talents who were both born in 1997. And once the likes of Lewis Hamilton and Sebastian Vettel depart the scene in the next few years, Leclerc and Verstappen are the two tipped as future championship challengers. So it's very nice of them to start spicing up the ingredients for a rivalry now.
The race also offered another view to the future. Those orange-clad Verstappen fans will also have a home Grand Prix to cheer him on from 2020.
It's been off the F1 calendar since 1985, but the Dutch Grand Prix returns next year.
Thumbs up 👍 Thanks for your support! 🙌 #OrangeArmy #AustrianGP 🇦🇹 pic.twitter.com/gRz7QWf91y
— Max Verstappen (@Max33Verstappen) June 30, 2019
Don't doubt that it has almost everything to do with the pulling power of Verstappen. The Dutch fans are visibly out in force to watch their home hero at Grand Prix in Europe, just as we saw in Austria.
Up to now and with the exception of the Finnish contingent, he's been the most popular driver without a home race. Which makes the return to Zandvoort timely when the Dutchman is likely to be one of the most-talked about drivers of the next decade at least.
As Williams driver George Russell said, "We're going there for, well, for Max pretty much and the Dutch fans."
Red Bull team boss Christian Horner also added: "A Dutch Grand Prix, with Max's popularity, will be immense."
So, there's a general theme that makes sense to F1's bosses from a marketing point of view.
But from a general fan point of view, it's good to see an exciting talent making continued strides. Especially given he also goes against the trend of overly media-trained F1 personalities in often speaking his mind.
And given that Leclerc is comparatively far more measured, it offers a nice contrast. And contrast is what the great rivalries are often built on. Watch this space!
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