F1 drivers keen on “mega” Zandvoort but warn passing would be hard

2018 F1 season

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Two Formula 1 drivers gave enthusiastic responses to the idea of a race at Zandvoort but warned overtaking would be difficult if the track returned to the calendar.

The circuit which held all 30 Dutch Grands Prix, between 1952 and 1985, has been linked to a potential revival of the race.

Brendon Hartley, who raced at the circuit in Formula Three and Formula Renault 2.0, said “I love the circuit but I think it’s maybe a little bit too tight for Formula 1.”

“It could be maybe a bit wider for these big Formula 1 cars,” he added. “It’s a good track.”

Esteban Ocon, who raced at Zandvoort more recently during his 2016 DTM stint, described it as “a very old-school circuit.”

“Nowadays we have a lot of run-off, we have a lot of different kerbs. I don’t know about the outside of the track but it’s a very cool track, very cool layout. It would be awesome to race there in Formula 1, mega-quick.

“I don’t think it is the latest generation. I don’t mind, I’m happy to race there if we go but it’s down to the FIA to decide if it’s possible or not.”

However Ocon also expressed concerns that overtaking would be very difficult.

“In DTM we had DRS. DTM is a car you can follow closer compared to F1 and already there it was hard to pass.”

The rising popularity of Max Verstappen has prompted interesting in reviving the Dutch round of the world championship. F1 has held discussions with Zandvoort and Moto GP venue Assen about a potential race.

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44 comments on “F1 drivers keen on “mega” Zandvoort but warn passing would be hard”

  1. Some places are narrow but the overtake spots are wide enough if they mean those spots. I think the circuit could make a little expansion of asfalt so a car can be line and still not hitting the sand. But the sand/gravel traps should stay little stroke of asfalt on the end of the gravel trap before the barriers.

    1. on the line (edit button)

    2. Zandvoort is not going to be upgraded in the middle of that area.
      it’s law-locked and infra-locked in it’s capacity of sound and people.

      TT-assen circuit has a lot better cards, if you look at the factual possibilities

      It can host many different events, earlier F1-cars have done demo’s there each year.
      every year you have MOTOGP, an always active track.

      1. Oh no your right the structual buildings are much better in Assen i was talking about the track it self.

  2. Interesting to hear these views from drivers.

    I might be mixing up the Dutch circuits, but I thought it was earlier said this track doesn’t have the facilities to host an F1 GP – is that being addressed, for this talk of a Dutch GP to be happening?

    1. It doesn’t have the facilities. In fact, most people think that the current owner has been leaking all these ‘it’s close’ news stories in order for the local government to invest in the circuit’s renovation, even if F1 isn’t set in stone yet. All very cynical, but yeah. It would need addressing and soon if the race is to happen.

      1. Very interesting perspective, thank you @hahostolze

      2. You’re right about those (cynical) rumours… the owner is in fact also a prince of the dutch monarchi and own several houses (or even complete streets) in Amsterdam, so he’s well know in real estate.

        On the other hand he’s also a true race fanatic… and didn’t buy into Zandvoort with a possible GP looming.
        The circuit is old, the facilities are old and the routes to the track small and pass several small villages.
        Then again it known to be a very nice race track with nice historical values, the track lack’s run off areas and is nicely located in the dunes…apart from grandstands people can take place in the dunes all around the track.

        It’s the opposite of tracks like Baku, Vietnam and Miami… F1 needs a bit of both

    2. But how expensive can it be to build some additional bicycle racks ;)

  3. It’s a brilliant circuit, but much like Monaco it would be in F1 solely for the experience. It’s not good for overtaking. It’s far too narrow. It’s incredibly challenging, probably second only to Monaco and Spa, but it’s very Mini-Mouse. Doubt TV viewers would actually warm to it. Drivers will, until they need to overtake.

    1. Actually only the revamp area’s are narrow the old ones not so much or you are calling the Tarzan turn narrow (room for atleast 3 cars)

      1. Relatively speaking, yes, I still think that’s narrow. It’s narrow compared to the rest of the calendar.

    2. @hahostolze I understand completely where you’re coming from but I don’t think that should stop them from racing there.

      Circuit design is only one thing which makes overtaking difficult. Car design is a huge factor. So is the enormous gulf in performance between the big three teams and the rest.

      And circuits have much more to offer than just places for overtaking. Zandvoort is a stunning place to watch racing cars in action. F1 should pick tracks which challenge drivers as well as those which offer good overtaking spots.

      And it’s a heritage F1 venue with a ready-made audience. I’m sure the atmosphere would be terrific. I’d love to see it happen.

      1. @keithcollantine I’m entirely with you, and there are numerous factors as you rightfully point out regarding overtaking. 2019 may well bring improvements in that respect. It’s a brilliant circuit, it’s a great venue, it’s near a few fantastic cities, but I don’t see the added value, unless F1 were to really make an effort of emphasising heritage. And it’s not really, it’s global experience above everything. The races here would, even with all your caveats, likely be quite dull. Great for the 150k in the dunes, bad for the 150m at home.

      2. @keithcollantine Well said. And since this is just in the discussion phase, if a race at Zandvoort does materialize it will be once cars are able to follow more closely, they’ll have different tires etc etc. They should not be judging a venue and it’s potential action value based on today’s cars.

        If one wanted to be silly and just react to the headline, I suppose we could say ‘what, so these drivers only want to be at tracks where passing is easy?’ That wouldn’t sound very ‘pinnacley’ to me;)

  4. Like I have pointed out before, not absolutely necessary for this circuit to return to F1 potentially. Spa-Francorchamps is enough for the Benelux-area.

    1. Says who?

    2. I believe it is absolutely necessary :)

  5. Zandvoort is a true drivers circuit. It’s tight and twisty and it follows the dune height changes.

    From turn 12 to the tarzanbocht should be a good run for overtaking with drs

    1. They say the same about the a1 ring and hungaroring.

      1. Different with those circuits is the start of the straight is much better to keep behind your opponent and follow him on the straight.

  6. Hungary is hard to overtake as well and it’s a glorious circuit, challenging, narrow, it’s like Monaco without the barriers.

    Overtaking shouldn’t be an issue to consider circuits. A lot of them were even designed to accommodate modern F1 and are still horrible in terms of overtaking.

    I rather watch a race at a place like Zandvoort than at any other soulless parking lot like Paul Ricard.

    1. Watch indycar, wrc, motogp, V8 supercars etc then, all those have better tracks then f1.

  7. If it happened, I’d definitely would want to go there. But, for now I am really quite sceptical that it really can be done (and wouldn’t lead to us later finding out we have a new Prince Bernard who has a sheen of corruption to him, like the guy’s grandfather after his lockheed-affair) well; traffic seems like it might become a nightmare unless tickets include a special train-service to the track. Well, I guess we’ll see, there should be enough private money around that is interested to make it happen.

  8. Meh, it’s only considered now cos of verstappen being Dutch. What about bathurst on Australia, 100 times better than zandvort, wouldn’t require much to be f1 safety standard. Or how about Philip Island in Australia? Or how about the adelaide Street circuit again? Why not 2 races in Australia? Indycar wants to return to the Gold Coast. Even nascar wants to race there. How about road America? Too many better classic tracks.

    1. Meh, it’s only considered now cos of verstappen being Dutch

      It is logical, because a Dutch driver – particularly one doing so well – is the easiest way to bring viewers into the stands, and to hopefully convert some of them into fans of F1 in general. It would be a marketer’s dream come true. Substitute “Dutch” with any other nationality, and the same applies.

      1. don’t agree with you, why are F1 going to China, Azerbaijan, Vietnam? there is much more to having an F1 race in your country than having a race driver in the f1 field. Right now we have no Brazillian or Japanese drivers, but does that chance anything? no

        1. It’s not binary, the reason I gave is not the sole and only reason to have a circuit/country in the calendar, it’s just one of the reasons. I can’t believe I had to clarify that.

      2. Yeah it’s not that Max is Dutch, it is that he is an impressive F1 Dutch megastar in the making with an escalating fandom. So you can only ‘substitute’ Dutch with another nationality if that driver is impressive enough that they start talking of an F1 race in his country.

        So, why another race in Australia when they are already tapping that market? And why ruin Road America by making it into a modern F1 facility? Nobody wants that.

    2. kpcart, that would be the same Bathurst circuit that, back in February this year, saw several pretty horrendous crashes during the 12 Hours race, with at least three drivers being hospitalised (one of whom suffered multiple broken ribs and a broken pelvis) due to crashes in the practise sessions and in the race, followed by sixteen safety cars and with the race being red flagged at least twice due to the track being completely blocked by crashes (the race was eventually cut short because the track was blocked after a particularly heavy crash)?

    3. You’re not from, hmmm let me guess, Australia are you kpcart?

      You have your race. Let the Dutch have some fun.

    4. Hans (@hanswesterbeek)
      19th November 2018, 21:05

      Don’t agree @kpcart, F1 has been a thing over here in The Netherlands for as long as I can remember (which is since the late nineties). I actually think that F1 would be a guaranteed sell out over here (albeit Zandvoort or Assen), even without Verstappen on track. Considering the success WTCC, F3 and MotoGP have had at both tracks, I’m sure an F1 race would mean packed dunes and grandstands (70 000 people iirc).

  9. I hope it happens
    Would be fantastic

  10. Its a great track with a superb history, plus it would be a exciting challange for the teams/drivers to master.

    1. is the superb history because it had a few f1 races? its not that historical compared to many other better tracks that are not on the f1 circuit.

      1. Many other better tracks that are not on the F1 circuit don’t have a driver who is drawing crowds such that Liberty would be quite confident in filling all the seats. It would be a smart business move to go where they know there is demand. Hasn’t that been a big complaint by many about BE taking F1 to venues that can’t draw people but can afford to pay F1’s fees?

      2. 30 F1 races!

  11. Does it matter much though? I believe it is more important that Dutch F1 fans get a home Grand Prix. You could already see thousands of them at Spa or Hockenheim every year before the whole Verstappen hype started.

    Also, I would be happy to see a Ferrari struggling to get past a Toro Rosso for once; nowadays F1’s press releases are more interesting than the “great comeback drives” on circuits where passing is “not hard”.

  12. For as much as I love Zandvoort (Although the current layout is nothing compared to the original & I despise the slow/tight/fiddly chicane towards the end of the lap) I can honestly say that I don’t think i’ve ever seen a race on the current layout which in the dry has been all that good in terms of racing, Especially when it comes to single seaters.

    I also think it’s pretty clear that facilities are nowhere near upto F1 standards, Not just in terms of the pits/paddock & media facilities or the runoff/safety features but also the spectators as I have heard that even the smaller categories that race there which draw moderate crowds can create a nightmare in terms of getting in/out of the circuit so I dread to think how bad it would be for the sort of crowd sizes F1 would attract.

  13. There is a 360-degree onboard view of Verstappen doing a lap round the circuit in a Red Bull on Youtube, from a couple of years ago.

    It looks real fun to drive but there appeared to be no real overtaking zones as the circuit is made up of fast, sweeping corners that are banked. Might work for lower formula races but don’t think it would suit F1 at all without serious redevelopment.

    1. There’s a second more recent one from last year, again, circuit looks too narrow with little opportunity for modern F1 cars to overtake. Looks spectacular though.

  14. If you want to get an idea of what bigger open wheel cars look like around Zandvoort here’s the 2008/2009 A1GP qualifying session, The cars they were using that year were based off the F1 Ferrari F2004:

    Race was exceptionally wet:

  15. Stephen Higgins
    19th November 2018, 22:26

    Pains me to say it, but . . .

    . . . Mr Tilke ??

    1. He wish the designer of Zandvoort (old one) is the same as the one in Japan. And no Tilke is going to change Zandvoort otherwise we ask the original designer to come out retirment to change it back.

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