Zandvoort Return: Invest For Max?

In article two of this mini-series we look at the possibility of Formula 1 to return to Holland.

Teenage sensation Max Verstappen in his rookie season burst onto screen in Australia 2015, scoring first points in his second Grand Prix in Malaysia. Verstappen had a successful campaign. His do or die attitude on track made him at times the centre of attention. With events early in season of 2016 he moved from Toro Rosso to Red Bull mid-season. Driving for them it created iconic moments such as his win in Spain & drive in Brazil he truly became a crowd favourite. Max Verstappen undoubtedly looks like he has the talent to be a future world champion.

Sergio Perez was similar to Verstappen, amazing drives earlier in his career at Sauber, especially at Malaysia, Canada & Monza of the season 2012. This rejuvenated the popularity of the sport in his home country Mexico. In following seasons a revival of Hermanos Rodrigues came to discussion, originally planned for 2014, but with time constraints placed on the calendar for 2015. Using that as a guideline could we see a return to the Netherlands in the next few years?

Liberty Media are seeking an increase in the calendar, we have two possible options, being existing tracks of Zandvoort, hosting the Grand Prix in the past and Assen. Zandvoort would be the logical choice as Assen is steriotypically more focused on bikes, and it being closer to the capital of Holland, Amsterdam. The track is graded Level 2 as by the FIA as current, making Formula 1 the only series that isn’t compliant. The main event that is run annually at Zandvoort is the DTM series in August. Interest tends to be heightened around this race due to Formula 1 having its summer break and crowd levels are very high at the event.

The track has changed in many ways since the most recent Dutch Grand Prix in 1985 which Niki Lauda won in the McLaren from starting tenth on the grid, he narrowly edged team mate Alain Prost by 0.2secs, which resulted in some great racing! On track from those changes though little needs to be looked at, the current track layout (See above) has high to medium sweeping corners to begin, in this age of Formula 1 would truly be a great spectacle. The latter half of the track is where downforce would be more key. Looking at the track, the long sweeping final corner could raise alarms, you could see something similar being put in place as like Catalunya/Barcelona in 2007. A slower chicane to break up the excessive speed, and also be put in place to increase the chance of overtaking along the pit straight. A possible DRS zone has been put in place on the current track layout on the picture earlier in the article.

Recently off track since that year the start/finish grandstand and pit area has had substantial amount of work to it to bring up to modern standards. Further work around the area would certainly be something required to comply with level 1 FIA grading. Zandvoort currently has a half hourly train service to and from central Amsterdam, with a small population, areas around the track for usability and access to the track need to be looked at as this also comes into consideration with the grading system that is used.

That is why Formula 1 could once more race in Holland, please keep an eye out for more articles in this series in the not too distant future, we will be looking at the possibility of Kyalami, Formula 1 returning to South Africa for the first time since 1993.

Chris Lord
16th May 2017.

Picture courtesy of Pirelli Motorsports

Andrew Hone photography

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