Zandvoort aims for 'spectacular' Grand Prix with unique banked curves

29 January 2020 - 19:16 By Reuters
The last F1 Grand Prix held at Zandvoort was back in 1985, a time when Nigel Mansell and his Williams-Honda FW10 were the cream of the crop.
The last F1 Grand Prix held at Zandvoort was back in 1985, a time when Nigel Mansell and his Williams-Honda FW10 were the cream of the crop.
Image: Paul-Henri Cahier/Getty Images

A totally refurbished track featuring two banked curves unique to Formula One racing should help Zandvoort permanently reclaim its place in motor sport's elite class as it returns to the Netherlands for the first time since 1985 on May 3.

Riding high on a wave of Max Verstappen mania, over 100 builders have nearly completed a 15m (roughly R242.6m) overhaul of the picturesque but outdated circuit, designed to make it stand out among the other 21 races.

"We've created a truly unique track, with two banked curves, which is something no other track in Formula One has," Dutch Grand Prix director and former F1 driver Jan Lammers told Reuters.

"This is already the most talked about circuit in Formula One. I am convinced we will see spectacular racing here."

Hemmed in by the dunes and a nature reserve on the North Sea coast some 25km west of Amsterdam, Zandvoort has always had a distinctive character with a swerving track and a number of high speed corners.

It was home to 30 Grand Prix races between 1952 and 1985, but became outdated as growing resistance among locals and environmentalists meant no one was interested in paying for the much-needed renovation of the track.

But views changed drastically in recent years as Dutch phenomenon Verstappen took F1 by storm, quickly turning from its youngest driver into a serial winner.

Verstappen, the youngest Grand Prix winner and first Dutchman to triumph, has already drawn tens of thousands of orange-clad fans to races in Belgium and Austria and has helped Zandvoort reach a sell-out crowd of 300,000 for three days of racing.

But the presence of a Dutch contender is not enough to produce an exciting race. When F1 decided to put Zandvoort on the calendar for the next three years, many feared it could be a dull event with virtually no chance for cars to overtake.

The totally new layout, however, should put all these fears to bed, said Lammers, the 1988 winner of the Le Mans 24-hour race.

"Drivers who leave the pit lane will now enter the track after the first corner, meaning cars can drive side-by-side through the second banked curve and even through the third curve, entering the fast part of the track together - so we can see who has the strongest nerves.

"None of the drivers has any experience with these banked curves. And we have built a truly authentic track. Make one mistake here and you're out."


X