Should Assen or Zandvoort hold the Dutch Grand Prix?

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The Dutch Grand Prix has been absent from the Formula 1 calendar since Niki Lauda resisted team mate Alain Prost to score his final win by two-tenths of a second at Zandvoort in 1985.

While the Netherlands has produced five F1 drivers since then, the meteoric rise of Max Verstappen has captured the imagination of a country with a strong motor racing heritage. The ‘Verstappen effect’ has been impossible to ignore: Races in nearby countries like Belgium, Austria, and Germany have been overwhelmed by the seas of orange supporting the young star and Liberty Media are keen to capitalise on the hype surrounding him.

Early plans for a street race in Rotterdam have fallen by the wayside. The choice of venues for a future Dutch Grand Prix now appears to be between two long-standing circuits with very different heritages: Zandvoort, the only Dutch track to have played host to F1, and Assen, which is synonymous with motorbike racing.


Assen, 2014

Zandvoort may be the former F1 venue but Assen is arguably closer to being F1-ready, according to FIA track inspector Charlie Whiting last year. He found there were a few small changes to the barriers and kerbs were needed before the circuit is ready for F1. “Of the two at present I would say Assen would need very little work,” Whiting remarked.

The circuit originally opened in 1955 and was long regarded as one of the classic motorbike racing venues. However in 2006 an amusement park was built on the north end of the circuit and its length was trimmed from 7.5 kilometres to 4.5.

Despite the track having since played host to the now-defunct Champ Car and Superleague Formula series for high-end single-seaters, for millions of motor racing fans the thought of Formula 1 taking over Assen will not be a welcome one. It’s not just a matter of pride: there are concerns high downforce F1 cars would aggravate bumps on the track surface as they have at Silverstone and COTA.



Zandvoort was the location for the Dutch GP from 1952 to 1985. Since then it has also had a significant tweak to its layout and is now slightly longer and incorporates a slower section through what used to be the infield in order to combat noise complaints from estates on the south side of the circuit.

The track has hosted various other categories of motorsport since the new layout was introduced in 1995 including various GT races, DTM, and Formula Three. The track has proven to be difficult to overtake at as seen in the recent F3 races, but its challenging layout and old-school run-off areas make it a favourite. Esteban Ocon called it a “very cool layout it would be awesome to race there in Formula 1, mega-quick.”

On the downside, the limited room within the infield for expanding the paddock facilities could count against Zandvoort when trying to court Formula 1.

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I say

A Dutch Grand Prix is a great idea for all parties to capitalise on the massive, and growing popularity of F1 in the Netherlands

To my mind Assen is the better option as it is likely to offer better overtaking opportunities into turn one and potentially 11 as well. The two are somewhat similar in style but Assen’s makeover has brought it closer to the kind of track where F1 cars can thrive.

Thanks to its motorcycle racing background Assen also creates a layout unlike any other on the F1 calendar. This adds an element of unknown to the drivers and the teams – which should create better racing for fans.

You say

Which track should host the Dutch Grand Prix?

  • No opinion (8%)
  • Neither (19%)
  • Zandvoort (39%)
  • Assen (34%)

Total Voters: 154

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Josh Holland
USA-based Josh joined the RaceFans team in 2018. Josh helps produce our Formula 1 race weekend coverage, assists with our social media activities and...

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  • 35 comments on “Should Assen or Zandvoort hold the Dutch Grand Prix?”

    1. Zandvoort is way too narrow for F1. We do not need another Monaco.

      1. Even Assen isnt too wide as its in use for MotoGP and doesnt look good for F1 cars.

      2. is not narrow, this is great track, we dont need boring abudhabi and bahrein

        1. Bahrain isn’t boring!

    2. Of the two in its current state, I’d prefer Zandvoort, but the main problem is the narrow width, tight confines, plus the lack of space in the first sector for F1 style pit facilities. The only thing I can see working without spoiling the circuit is extending the start/finish straight, duplicating Tarzan, and creating some sort of flowing corner sequence that links back to Gerlachbocht. Anything else would be too much for me. (Please leave Scheivlak alone because that corner is brilliant!)

      Assen, whilst flowing, looks even harder to overtake on than Zandvoort because there aren’t really any heavy braking zones into the corners. For motorbikes, it’s amazing and challenging because the fast corners really challenge the riders, whereas in an F1 car, it’ll be no big deal.

        1. Looks a bit like the Hungaroring.

          1. I can see what you mean actually, got that long mid-speed hairpin sort of feel to it.

    3. I don’t think either are really suitable for F1.

      Zandvoort is one of my favorite circuits (Although the old layout is far better) but it’s fairly narrow, Doesn’t have much runoff, Doesn’t have much room in pits/paddock & I’ve heard that spectator facilities need work as does the road network as getting to/from the circuit is a regular issue in terms of traffic.

      Assen is probably better in terms of facilities, runoff etc… but I don’t think the layout would be suitable for F1 as even Champcar & Superleague Formula struggled to put on decent races there as most of the corners are pretty quick so there’s no decent braking zones to try for overtaking & F1 would likely be worse given the extra performance & aero (Even after 2021 if those changes happen).

      1. @stefmeister, as you note, neither venue is really that suitable for a race.

        Zandvoort has had a rather troubled history when being used by major single seater series. Formula 1 and Formula 2 races in the late 1960s and early 1970s saw multiple fatal accidents, and even then the lack of run off areas was a problem – it still remains a problem now, as there have still been occasional fatal accidents in recent years (the most recent being in 2017 during a historic Grand Prix event).

        Access for safety personnel has sometimes been problematic – there have been parts where there are access roads only on one side of the track, so if a driver was stranded on the opposite side of the track, the only way to get to him was to cross the circuit. I have a recollection that, possibly during the 1985 race, there was an incident where a recovery truck was trying to get to one corner and decided to drive along the circuit to get there – the problem was that the race was still going, and the driver nearly took Lauda out of the race in the process.

        The circuit was probably already at the point where it was not really suitable for F1 races back in the 1980s, and there doesn’t really seem to be much that has changed since then. Furthermore, although I understand that the local authorities have made some changes which have slightly improved things, access to the circuit is still a problem.

        Assen, as you note, would probably be a more practical venue for a race, but in terms of the spectacle, it probably would be somewhat lacking. As the article notes, Dorna would be a potential problem as they are very sensitive to anything that could potentially impact on the MotoGP bikes.

        Looking back at the reports from Silverstone, whilst the F1 cars probably had nothing to do with making the surface so bumpy – Motorsport Magazine found that there were complaints from national motorcycling events in April, several months before any F1 cars ran there – the perception that F1 might be to blame is hard to shift, and I could see them raising complaints if Assen were to entertain the idea of an F1 race there.

        1. Great post @stefmeister,very much agree – I went for ‘no opinion’ as I do see the appeal of a Dutch F1 GP, but am not at all sure whether it would actually be a good idea at either location.

    4. I’ve been to the ChampCar race in Assen and it was just a procession with hardly any overtaking. Adapting the circuit to F1 standards will imho ruin the track for the MotoGP, so that’s not going to happen.

      Imho Zandvoort is the best option, although it does need more work. But I’ve seen some great races there, whether it was A1GP, F3 or DTM.

    5. Assen is a beautiful bike track… but if you were making a track that modern F1 cars would have utterly crap races on, it’d look a lot like Assen. The straights are nowhere near long enough, it’d be like Monaco without walls. To put on a decent grand prix at Assen you’d need to trash the place, almost certainly extend it and spoil some of the bike bits, and much as I prefer F1 I wouldn’t want to see one of my favourite bike tracks ruined.

      That leads me by default to Zandvoort, which is what I voted for… but that’s no good either because it would probably need too much work to drag it up to F1 standard.

      I should have voted for neither.

      1. Thanks for saving me having to type exactly the same thing!!!
        Even voted for Zandvoort to stop Assen being ruined. I still think they should race on Saturday at Assen… but NOT CARS

        1. F1 for Zandvoort MotorGP for Assen that is one of the reason to vote for Zandvoort (and the fact historical and those fun memories of the old track)

          Some modicfications is good as i found the new layout too small for the turns in the new part. Widening some turns would help sand gravels pit should be made smaller with asfalt before the barrier to have the best of 2 ways.

    6. Neither. F1 doesn’t necessarily need a Dutch GP. The Belgian GP is enough for the Benelux-area as I’ve pointed out before.

      1. Not enough room for the most fans as Spa event is capped on 70000 a day.

      2. Hockenheim is closer to Spa. @jerejj
        Even Barcelona to Monaco is less in distance than Spa to Assen.

    7. The though of F1 ruining Assen for what it is one of the biggest bike events in the world is something that gives me stomachache…

      Zandvoort on the other hand would be great but it’s too narrow and needs some serious modification. Plus, itd be one of the hardest tracks to overtake.. but then again, so is the Hungaroring and it’s one of the races I enjoy the most becauae it’s like a kart track for F1. I’d like to know how the two compare in terms of width and run off areas.

    8. The drivers prefer Zandvoort. But the money will decide.

      1. The Money will decide there is a need for a Dutch GP in the first place. Both tracks are terrible for today’s F1. It’s sad, but I’d honestly prefer any brand new Tilkedrome in an accessible rural area next to a highway with tons of parking space both off and on track…

    9. Do they still use the ditches in Assen to slow cars down?

    10. [At Assen] there are concerns high downforce F1 cars would aggravate bumps on the track surface as they have at Silverstone and COTA.

      My observation from looking at the streets around my city, patching up the road is just waste of money, you need to dig up the road and do a proper repair job. I think it would be better to look for somewhere new which has got decent roads or a decent track.

    11. How can it be so hard to update purpose built tracks when they create street circuits quickly in other areas of the world?

      1. A city kinda carrys “some” infrastructure along with it ;)

    12. zabdvort is better old circiut assen mickey mouse track,i want zandvort, estoril zolder back in f1

    13. Neither.

      Aside from not wanting to see Assen and Zandvoort Tilkeised (anyway TIL Assen is rather different to what I played in MotoGP 2 – have watched a couple of the MotoGP races there but tbh never noticed), I think the best way to make everyone happy is to just have a reunification orchestrated (without leaving out Wallonia) and hold the Dutch GP at Spa.

      1. OK maybe not the best way….can’t be that much worse than messing up with Zandvoort and Assen though?

        1. Plus seeing instead of “Well Done Baku” “Zuid-Nederland G E A N E X E E R D” would be hillarious

    14. Zandvoort please!! Yes it’s narrow and hard to overtake. But it’s a true old school circuit going through dunes.

      No runoff shouldn’t be a problem and if it’s hard to get a car out of the way there’s always the red flag.

    15. Lenny (@leonardodicappucino)
      28th January 2019, 9:06

      I think Zandvoort would be the better location due to history and it being much more centrally located within the Netherlands. It would need changes though, but I’ve had a play around with it myself and feel like the necessary changes can be made without changing the character of the circuit or the best corners. Some pictures below:

    16. I love both tracks, Zandvoort has amazing history and produces some good touring car races. Assen is always reliable for a great Motogp race.

      My heart says Zandvoort but i think Assen may be more achievable

    17. They need to stop Assen about Zand think of a better option. Build a brand new state of the art European circuit, the Verstappendrome. A shining monument to European motorsport.

    18. Assen if any, for various reasons above. But also, the new owner of the Zandvoort circuit is a member of the dutch royal family. This clown owns a lot of real estate in Amsterdam and has proven himself a ruthless pr#ck of a landlord and for a while already he is playing local and regional administrations.

      The Zandvoort circuit needs a lot of renovation as does the infrastructure in and around the town of Zandvoort before a GP can be hosted. No one but the taxpayer will pay for most of that. I couldn’t stand this prince pr#ck getting his new toy circuit being renovated for free to make money off it and filling his own pockets.

      Being a huge F1 and Max fan i’m against a dutch GP. Just recently a hospital went bankrupt, taxes need to be spent for better healthcare, schools and a decent police force.

    19. Zandvoort is a good track (not as good as the old track), but the parts that are left over from the old track (the start all the way up to the sharp right hander after Schleviak) needs to be widened.

    Comments are closed.