Assen, 2015

Assen track inspection reveals few changes needed to host F1 race

2018 F1 season

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The Assen circuit in the Netherlands needs relatively little work to gain the FIA grade one licence it needs in order to hold Formula One races.

FIA director of Formula One Charlie Whiting recently made his first visit to the circuit and advised its owners on what work is needed to bring it up to F1 standard.

The 4.5-kilometre course, which currently has a grade two licence, would not require significant alterations to attain grade one. The chief revisions would be to its kerbs and the addition of new safety facilities including TecPro barriers at some corners.

A grand prix in the Netherlands could capitalise on the huge popularity of Red Bull driver Max Verstappen. Large contingents of Verstappen fans appeared at several races during 2017, notably the nearby Belgian Grand Prix at Spa-Francorchamps. Hockenheim, which is returning to the F1 calendar this year, has already reported a ticket sales boost attributed to the ‘Verstappen effect’.

The Dutch Grand Prix was previously held at Zandvoort between 1952 and 1985. The seaside track has also evaluated a possible return to the F1 calendar.

The Assen circuit was built in 1955. It originally incorporated public roads but became a permanent venue in 1992. It is closely identified with the annual TT motorbike race but also holds races for cars. In 2007 the now-defunct Champ Car series held one of its few races outside North America at the track, which was won by Justin Wilson.

TT Circuit Assen map

TT Circuit Assen pictures

Max Verstappen, Toro Rosso, TT Circuit Assen, 2015
Max Verstappen, Toro Rosso, TT Circuit Assen, 2015

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Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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  • 33 comments on “Assen track inspection reveals few changes needed to host F1 race”

    1. TT Assen is an good track, very technical and i would like to see an 2018 F1 car pushing hard. Only after that we could say this is an good track for F1.

      1. I think it might be interesting to drive for an F1 driver. But I seriously doubt a race there would be anything close to exciting on the track @macleaod.

      2. For an f1 car it wouldn’t be as technical as the layout might suggest, most of the lap the cars have plenty of downforce to take the tight corners flat out, technical as in thread the needle, f1 has completely outgrown Zandvoort and Assen. An f1 lap time of Assen might be close to the minute mark.

    2. Beautiful for bikes but please tell me they’re not seriously thinking about running F1 on the existing layout… unless they’re just totally abandoning the idea of overtaking. The straights aren’t long enough.

      1. You are right. But no overtaking possibilities would rule out 60-70% of the current circuits as well.

      2. Straights are responsible for the most uninteresting overtaking possibilitys, mostly DRS supported. So please use the track for intelligent overtaking on merit, not DRS assisted boring stuff.
        That said, Assen is not interesting and in the middle of nowhere.. but still better than some other tracks. But i prefer the old skool circuit of Zandvoort.

        1. Middle of nowhere? Clearly you havent been to the dutch TT. Biggest sportsevent in the Netherlands that is.

    3. Perhaps the layout is not that ideal for the current aerodynamics & mostly the lack of a big straight(for DRS)/clear overtaking spot, but its a nice circuit with good accomodations-atmosphere & having seen some Motogp races there, i would welcome a Saturday race in TT Assen

    4. The track is great for MotoGP but not for F1. It’s too narrow and tight. Having a Dutch race would be great but that’s about the only thing.

    5. Like most, I tend to associate Assen with bikes. Zandvoort would be a much better circuit.

      Amazed the usual ‘new Tilke circuit / street circuit’ arguments haven’t emerged yet to take F1 back to Holland.

      1. Zandvoort is nowhere near been ready for an F1 race.
        The road network into the place & parking at have been known to be troublesome for smaller categories so I dread to think what it would be like with an F1 race & all the spectators, media & team personnel that turn upto F1 races.

        I’m also not sure the modern Zandvoort track layout would even be especially suited to F1.

        1. @gt-racer, it’s debatable whether it really was that fit for purpose by the time the circuit dropped off the calendar in the 1980’s – there was the famous incident where, in the 1985 race, a random tow truck started driving around the circuit and nearly took Lauda out of the lead because there was no other way for him to get from one part of the circuit to another due to a lack of access tracks.

        2. it is a fact that the town of zandvoort is totally unsuitable for massive amounts of visitors, few places to park, no way to expand the site due to it being ring fenced by a national park of sand dunes, the sea and a village.

          There is no way that Zandvoort could host an F1 weekend unless they limited visitors to 20,000 or less.

          At least with Assen, there is some space around the track to make room for the huge amount of visitors.

    6. I agree. The sport is not going to miss out on making money with Verstappen’s rise creating such interest. It was the same in Spain fifteen years ago when Alonso rose to prominence, and it is the same for the Netherlands. Good luck to them! For the series its good because there will be a passionate crowd there, which adds to the spectacle. Some of the far flung circuits over the years have missed that.

    7. Is there really a need for another race in the Benelux? Not that I’d be against it, but why should there be a Dutch GP since neighboring Belgium is already part of the Championship. That should be enough already.

      1. On that basis we’re really going to need to rethink the whole European and North American legs of the championship.

        1. @Robert Mckay The distances between the NA venues are massive, though.

      2. Yeah, and while we are at it, good thing Silverstone cancelled their F1 contract. No need for a new race. France and Belgium are only a train ticket away.

      3. You must be British

    8. Not sure Assen is a good track for cars. Certainly the Champcar race held there in 2007 wasn’t especially good & neither were the Superleague formula races held there in 2011.

      1. I guess the races would be a bit like Barcelona. Nice to see the cars in some of the parts, but no overtaking possible unless there is a 1,5 second speed advantage between cars.

    9. I am excited for this mainly because I love the track in Assetto Corsa, people don’t host much races on this track, but whenever they do I jump onto it.

      The fast flowing first few corners, the tricky corners in the second sector (where you never get the braking right), the Red Bull ring like final corners and the high speed wide curve before the finish line always keeps me in the fun zone throughout a 10 lap or 50 lap race.

      I also enjoy watching the replays it just looks spectacular.


        Hulkenberg on Assen circuit

    10. I raced this track on a sim quite a lot. It is awesome. A good driver can overtake here in them corners. They are very naturally flowing and allow dives down the inside.

      Maybe Aero is to restricting for overtakes, but I bet Max in that Red Bull would do some.

    11. To me, Assen circuit is where a small mistake makes you end up in the ditch.

      1. That’s a plus.. good for the sport!

    12. Generally trusted sources reveal Liberty offered a great deal (mostly because Verstappen will be a top 5 contender for the coming 3 years, so the stands will be packed like madness just like Verstappen fans already will be ~50% of all the other Benelux and W-European races.) so I’m expecting Assen to get on the F1 calender before 2020, 100%. Assen already is an Grade 2 circuit, so the cost is almost 15 lower then Zandvoort would need. So.. Pin me on it.

      But…. the track got severely damaged for F1 in 2006 which will make overtaking just as difficult like in Melbourne or Abu Dhabi as the back straights won’t be full-throttle even with the iconic asphalt. So there only be one overtaking opportunity = Turn 16.
      MotoGP has a high emotional stake in this GP as Dutch TT fans see this track as the Indy-500 of the year so the track will never get reconfigured for F1, in fact, some slow-speed corners before the straights are getting higher kerbs to avoid cutting… so top-speed and overtaking will get even less then you would predict now.
      So Dutch people will not admit it probably, but it will bring quite boring races as the track got altered to suit the MotoGP.
      I predict it could get as ”boring” as Sochi (the parentheses being because the 50% of the Sochi problem is the tyres-choice of Pirelli, as Sochi has enough straights pure looking at the track profile and not the track surface)

    13. On paper, this track should not lend itself to good racing in Formula 1 cars. But how many times have we seen new tracks designed specifically for F1 cars give us good races regularly? COTA? Sakhir?

      The best races are always circumstantial anyway. It’s no coincidence that nearly all of the races we consider to be modern classics were influenced by tricky weather, championship implications or a well-timed safety car. You can’t create a good race, but you can hold it on an exciting circuit that’ll at least be spectacular just to see the cars go round, even if the racing isn’t great.

      Saying the corners are too fast and the straights are too short for F1 is the attitude that got us stuck with Yas Marina. Why not have a race in Assen and hope, like we do at every circuit, that the racing Gods will give as a thriller? And if they don’t, I won’t be too disappointed just seeing one of these modern F1 cars flinging it round a brilliant circuit.

      1. @jackysteeg

        +1 to this. Abu Dhabi’s problem is the chicane between the main straights and turn 6 which ruins the overtaking out of the first corner, not comparable but your main point is valid. One very important thing I forgot to add; the weather at Assen is quite like Amsterdam only slightly more extreme in the fall so to provide us with great races Liberty should place the Dutch GP between Hungary and Italy = that would provide us with great tricky Dutch weather, placing it around Barcelona would result in Spa-like races. I’m afraid Liberty wants to place it into the early season as they want to start the season earlier as other new GPs will be non-EU ones (apart from Estoril and the Danish GP) and they will want to fit those into August – November.

        1. @xiasitlo ”as they want to start the season earlier as other new GPs will be non-EU ones (apart from Estoril and the Danish GP) and they will want to fit those into August – November.” – There’s been zero suggestion about something like this, so let’s not get ahead of ourselves about something that is far from a given.

      2. +1

        Hear hear. A mediocre race round Assen’s fast corners and gravel traps in front of packed stands will always be infinitely more entertaining than even the best race Sochi or Yas Marina can offer.

    14. I think the short straight might be good for overtaking. Drs makes all overtakings anticlimatic and dull but with a short straight the drs won’t give you big enough advantage so you can effortlessly just lazily switch positions. You actually need to finish off the overtake in the braking zone. Defensive driving might actually work so we could actually see some battles.

      1. @socksolid ”Drs makes all overtakings anticlimatic” – Not ‘all’ of them.

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