“If you can keep your head when all about you are losing theirs,” Rudyard Kipling wrote long ago in one of his most famous poems, “yours is the Earth and everything that’s in it.”
The Dutch Grand Prix was effectively a four-day beach party, with Max Verstappen at its centre. Yet while his adoring fans danced and chanted, cheered and let off their flares, accompanied by a constant dance-music backdrop, the Red Bull driver was the calm at the eye of the orange storm.
A nation was willing Verstappen on to victory at Zandvoort. Even the king of the Netherlands turned up to watch. But if there was pressure on Verstappen, you would not have known.
The 23-year-old was flawless and imperious all weekend, and on Sunday afternoon he delivered the dominant win the 65,000 fans packed into the little resort town on the North Sea had come to see.
“Max was remarkable this weekend,” Red Bull team principal Christian Horner said. “If you drive through the town to the circuit, every house has got Verstappen flags. There is so much support for him, and I have never seen a nation get behind a driver in this manner.
“From the moment we’ve arrived, the music has been going, the build-up, the intensity and the one person who hasn’t felt it has been Max.
“He was focused on his own job, gone about his business in the same way as at other races and he almost seemed oblivious to what was happening on the other side of the fence, with the mayhem and partying that was ensuing. The noise on the grid – I’ve never heard anything like it.”
In the maelstrom, Verstappen was calmness personified. Was it difficult to stay focused, he was asked?
“I have been always very focused,” he said. “I know I have to focus on the driving. That has been quite straightforward. There are more distractions on the grid, or when you drive out and there is more of a crowd, but we are professional enough to just focus on our job once we are in the car.”
Lewis Hamilton did his best to disrupt the Verstappen benefit, but ultimately he and his Mercedes did not have the pace. And, by three points, Verstappen reclaimed the championship lead he last held after the British Grand Prix in mid-July.