Yuki Tsunoda, AlphaTauri, Zandvoort, 2021

‘It’s what we all want from race tracks’: F1 drivers rave over revamped Zandvoort

2021 Dutch Grand Prix

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Formula 1 drivers were full of praise for the revamped Zandvoort after driving it for the first time this weekend.

The 20-strong field hailed the track which has had two significant chances since it last held a round of the world championship in 1985.

“I loved it, to be honest,” said Carlos Sainz Jnr, who ended the day second-quickest for Ferrari.

“It was a different Friday, just learning a new track, but also learning different kind of corners that we had never experienced before. Learning how to drive them, experimenting with driving lines, just made it to be a different kind of feeling. A different kind of Friday which in a 22, 23-race season it’s always nice to have different Fridays.”

Several of the drivers had experienced the track before the latest changes, which added steep banking to turns three and 14. Sebastian Vettel, who last drove the track in 2005, praised the alterations made for F1’s return.

Vettel is pleased how little the track has changed
“They didn’t change too much of the track, which is good news,” he said. “The bits they changed, I think they changed to the better. It’s very exciting with the banking, it’s not quite clear which line to take yet, but we have a little bit more time tomorrow.”

Vettel would like to see other corners copy some of Zandvoort’s changes. “We should have more of that, cambered corners, positive and not off-camber,” he said. “Off-camber they do [it] for water drainage but it’s very boring because you lose grip and that I think looks exciting and feels exciting in the car as well.”

The steepness of the banking is hard to appreciate from television pictures, said Pierre Gasly. “On TV, all the banking always [look] smaller and when you get in the car, in real, it’s always more impressive.

“Especially turn three is pretty insane, it’s like sliding into a toboggan, a similar feeling but with an F1 cars at such speed it’s quite unique. Driving-wise, it’s unbelievable. I’m really, really enjoying it.”

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Lando Norris last drove the circuit in Formula 3 four years ago, and said it was “tricky” in a more powerful Formula 1 car. “Not an easy track for sure.”

New banked turn three is “insane”, said Gasly
“From what we had on the simulator to what it’s actually like is relatively similar, which is a good thing. We’ve done a good job with the sim.

“I guess it’s always tricky because in the simulator you don’t feel the G force. So especially around the back turn seven, turn eight, turn nine you’re constantly turning right. It’s punishing on the front-left tyre. Physically you start to feel it quite a bit and it’s extremely quick.

“You don’t have that sensation in the simulator so when you come here, you really get to feel it. And it’s a bit of a shock the first few laps you do. But once you get into it, it’s just a cool feeling.”

Although several drivers pointed out overtaking will be difficult around the 4.2-kilometre course, few had anything negative to say after the first day of action ahead of the Dutch Grand Prix.

“It was a great experience driving this circuit,” said George Russell. “It’s a driver’s favourite. It’s very undulating – all this new banking is a great new experience.

“Fast, flowing, you can’t really put a wheel wrong. So I think that’s what we all want from race tracks.”

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Dieter Rencken
Dieter Rencken has held full FIA Formula 1 media accreditation since 2000, during which period he has reported from over 300 grands prix, plus...
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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28 comments on “‘It’s what we all want from race tracks’: F1 drivers rave over revamped Zandvoort”

  1. The acid test… is it any good for racing?

    1. If it isn’t good for racing, then it’s no different to Sochi, one of the more rubbish circuits. At least here, drivers enjoy the circuit.

      1. the drivers have already said it.. cannot overtake..
        so its basically back to first few laps,, go to sleep, wake up an an hour and still see the same order… commentators trying to fake enthusiasm over some nostalgia crap… :(

        lets see how long us the fans can tolerate this decline! wide cars, narrow tracks.
        i paid for F1TV this year.. never again..

        1. Gustavo Sobrino
          3rd September 2021, 21:25

          Race it on F1 2020, it was a full race and i can tell you this:
          You cannot overtake. If needed, you can Trulli-train cars that are faster than you. you cannot (and this is very important) CANNOT overcut.
          So yeah, it’s basically a super fast Monaco
          Very nice track to drive but very bad for Racing

          1. @ Gustavo Sobrino

            This is sad to hear and what I what saying a while ago after seeing the track under construction, it was so narrow looking but I could only guess at this because this will be the first race with actual F1 cars.

            I know Monaco is super iconic and rich in F1 history but I schedule that weekend for the outdoors, maybe just watch quali and then read the race results Monday morning; as it’s too frustrating and boring to dedicate my time to watch the Monaco parade especially in late May with so much beautiful weather outside.
            I was really hoping that this would not be the case for Zand. If over cut is also a no go then options & strategies are very limited. It will then only be about winning the Quali and then controlling the lead.

            I can’t really understand why they do this? In order for F1 to grow and gain a higher quality reputation of a sporting event they need to improve the tracks in a way to increase overtaking and open up strategies so teams have a chance on Sunday to jostle, pass and compete and create single lane parades tracks.
            There’s so much money at stake, venues spending ten’s of millions to alter a track to improve it for F1 but then not improve the racing; Sigh!

            I’ll now step off my apple box and sorry for the rant.

          2. In my eyes, good racing is not lots of overtakes; good racing is seeing a few magic moves. I’m glad it is super hard to overtake here. I just finished watching the F3 race and there were very few passes other than right at the beginning of the race. But it was way more exciting than most races. Looking forward to F1 on Sunday!

  2. I watched both sessions and am in love with the flow of this circuit. The best onboards I’ve ever seen.

    Racing might be average to poor, but the track is stellar.

    1. Zaandvort is basically like most IndyCar road tracks: Barber, Sonoma, Mid-Ohio, Laguna Seca you name it ;)

      If you don’t know them: Here’s a lap at Sonoma by Ryan Hunter-Reay:

      And a lap at Barber by Max Chilton:

      1. Well said. F1-only fans have missed out for so long with the tilke monopoly of tracks. And in Indycar, they can overtake on such tracks, but F1 cars cannot.

  3. All them red flags tho… this race will be decided by the SC

  4. It’s the cars that are poor, they are holding back our great sport. We need them to be small and loud again. Away with the concept of ‘road relevancy’! This is motorsport, the entire point is that they are not road relevant!

    1. The cars are too big and too heavy! Unfortunately the 2022 regs fail to address this. Hopefully aero changes will be sufficient.

  5. All these words will ring hallow once the Trulli train departs on Sunday.

    1. Rob (@realnigelmansell)
      4th September 2021, 4:17

      I don’t think so. I might be in the minority but I think it will be like a more exciting Monaco, and I like Monaco. It’s nice to have a couple tracks more focused on driving skill at the expense of overtakes. I think this year’s race will probably be a slugfest like mugello tho and in the future it will calm down

  6. This is the sort of challenging track I love to watch. Even when you have a race with few overtakes it’s great to watch.

    Fingers crossed for a good race either way.

    1. @glynh

      I’m with you, fingers crossed.

    2. @glynh

      This is the sort of challenging track I love to watch. Even when you have a race with few overtakes it’s great to watch.

      Agree completely. It’s largely futile blaming tracks for the difficulty drivers encounter overtaking – hopefully next year’s cars will make a significant difference in that respect. Even with that, I’m sure this is always going to be one of the tougher tracks to pass on.

      What I particularly appreciate with the job they’ve done here is the restraint they’ve shown. They’ve not changed much, but what they have changed is clearly the product of careful thought and a bit of ambition.

  7. While normal overtaking will be hard there might still be enough action. The track itself is tough for the drivers meaning it is easy to make a mistake. I expect the drivers to be knackered for the last quarter of the race. This will increase the potential of overtakes. Some tracks are just too easy so hardly anyone makes a mistake.

    1. I hope for that too. I would love some rain and/or strong winds blowing sand onto the track to aid that.
      The GT World Challenge race I watched recently at Zandvort was spectacular, especially at the “carousel” hairpin there were many spins, drifts and slides which resulted in cars going side by side and overtaking.

  8. Nice to see a track with consequences which might expose a few drivers.

    I terms of whether it’s going to be a good or bad circuit for F1, I’ll hold off until after Sunday, but there’s certainly a lot of potential for a great race.

  9. I don’t think it really matters if passing is difficult here. The track is such a challenge in itself. It’s a bit like monaco and Hungary, no real rest along the circuit. I think we’re going to see some exhausted drivers by the end of this one. I just wish they’d fitted Fernando’s visor cam! Definitely a welcome addition to the calendar for this fan. The cars look phenomenally fast!

    1. @tommy-c I don’t understand this view. Doesn’t matter if racing is not possible? Just watch cars circulate and all that really matters happens in qualifying on Saturday?

      1. I’d consider racing and passing as slightly different things. The driver in front still needs to be on it to not make mistakes and let the driver behind make a pass. That’s still racing and there can still be tension. 2005 Imola is always a good example where we saw great racing without passing. Having said that, yes, I’d still find it entertaining to watch F1 cars circulating around here. They look incredible.

        1. And imola 2006 too with roles reversed.

  10. What an awesome track, it makes spa look tame.

    Bumps everywhere, multiple lines depending on car, sandy runoff..

  11. The truncated Zandvoort was already a fantastic track, it looks like Dromo has managed to make it even better. That is some response to the Tilke argument “You think my tracks are dull, but they don’t leave me any choice.” Moreover, the camera angles are great and it looks awesome on television, much like Mugello did last year. In contrast, Portimao is another track that is fantastic to drive but was a bit disappointing on television.

    Even if passing proved to be too difficult, I’d happily watch an hour and a half quasi procession on such a track.

  12. Racing might not be good on Sunday but I except an eventful race anyway. This track is very fast, narrow and there’s very little room for error.

  13. I always wanted an F1 track that draws red flags anytime someone sneezes…

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