Will first Dutch champion produce more heroics at home? Five Zandvoort talking points

2022 Dutch Grand Prix

Posted on

| Written by

The second race of the only triple-header of the 2022 season sees Formula 1 return to Zandvoort for the second Dutch Grand Prix to be held around the extensively revamped classic venue.

With thousands of fans set to see a Dutch world champion racing at home for the first time with even more fans in attendance than last year, it’s sure to be a lively race weekend in the Netherlands. But will they see a close contest, or a repeat of last week’s Red Bull rout?

A tougher time for Verstappen at home?

Having won the world championship in 2021, Max Verstappen appears to be cruising towards his second title after three consecutive race wins see him hold an astonishing 93 point lead in the drivers’ championship. And with his two most recent wins coming from 10th and 14th on the grid, it would be easy to assume that it will be another easy victory for the Red Bull driver, especially if he does not have the same setbacks this weekend as he had to deal with in Hungary and Belgium.

However, Red Bull’s high top speed at Spa and across the season so far has suggested that lower downforce circuits play to their car’s strengths. Ferrari team principal Mattia Binotto believes that the high-speed nature of Spa-Francorchamps may have played into Red Bull’s hands last weekend.

“I think that Spa is always amplifying the gaps because it’s a long track and whenever you’ve got a slight advantage on efficiency, normally, it’s amplified and very obviously in such a circuit,” Binotto said. “So yes, we hope to be back in the next races to be closer while I still believe that they’ve got today a slightly faster car.”

After Mercedes were not even close to being within reach of the Red Bulls last weekend, they will be hoping for performance more akin to what they enjoyed at the Hungaroring – a circuit far similar to Zandvoort than Spa is.

“We’ve got a couple of days to regroup and plan for Zandvoort,” said Mercedes’ trackside engineering director Andrew Shovlin. “It’s got some similar challenges with very fast corners, so hopefully we can make a bit of progress having analysed the data from this weekend.”

Advert | Become a RaceFans supporter and go ad-free

Banking on better racing

The reviews of the updated Zandvoort track from drivers after the first race back in 2021 were widely positive. But while the circuit offered a challenge to drivers to nail a perfect lap – as multiple mistakes during last year’s qualifying session proved – overtaking was more of a challenge.

Fernando Alonso, Alpine, Zandvoort, 2021
The DRS activation line will be earlier
With its many twisting turns, relatively narrow confines and only two straights of note, opportunities to pass were relatively limited. It did not prevent any passes from taking place, but many drivers including Esteban Ocon and Lance Stroll expressed their views that they needed a little more help from the track in order to encourage more overtaking.

After last year’s event, the FIA said it would study the first race around the revamped circuit to consider whether to extend the DRS zone from the start/finish straight back along the high-banked final corner of turn 14 in order to allow for more passes into turn one. It is expected to go ahead with a trial to judge whether it is safe enough for drivers to use it through such an unusually steep corner.

F1 went through a similar situation at Albert Park in Melbourne earlier this year where a new fourth DRS zone was added in practice, but later remove. It prompted suspicions one team had lobbied for its removal on safety grounds in order to gain a performance advantage.

Advert | Become a RaceFans supporter and go ad-free


Formula 1 continues to enjoy a boom in popularity, with the sport enjoying record track attendances at its largest venues and television viewing figures up in key markets. The Netherlands is no exception, with Verstappen’s sensational achievements in Formula 1 at such a remarkably young age single-handedly transforming F1 into a national sporting obsession in his home country.

Max Verstappen, Red Bull, Zandvoort, 2021
Great atmosphere – but a hazard for some?
Last year’s Dutch Grand Prix felt very much like a three-day festival in celebration of Verstappen as the Red Bull driver was cheered on his way to pole position and victory with a level of fever Formula 1 had rarely seen before. Returning with a world championship under his belt to even more fans in attendance than last year – when only two-thirds capacity was permitted due to Covid-19 restrictions – the festival atmosphere is likely to be further enhanced this time around.

But there is one particular trademark of the Orange Army that could become a point of emphasis this weekend – flares.

The sight of bright orange smoke billowing from grandstands has become synonymous with support for the world champion. However the opening lap of the Austrian Grand Prix showed the down-side of flares: While drivers found their visibility impaired at times, amateur footage showed many in the stand could not even see the action due to the sheer volume of smoke which was released.

Flares are technically prohibited from almost all F1 venues for obvious reasons. However, some fans continue bring them into the grandstands. Last year’s Dutch Grand Prix generated some impressive and iconic images from the smoky atmosphere, but with more fans and potentially more flares for this weekend, hopefully fan enthusiasm does not compromise safety.

Advert | Become a RaceFans supporter and go ad-free

Double Dutch

Nyck de Vries, Williams, Circuit de Catalunya, 2022
De Vries has had two F1 practice outings this year
While the tens of thousands of fans who will be walking through the ticket gates at Zandvoort this weekend will be overwhelmingly cheering on their local world champion, there’s a possibility he won’t be the only Dutch driver on the grid next year.

For much of this season, rumours around Nicholas Latifi’s future at Williams have refused to go away. And when Williams gave the 2021 Formula E world champion a run in their FW44 in first practice for the Spanish Grand Prix in May, those murmurings only grew louder.

As one of Mercedes’ reserve drivers, for the season, Nyck de Vries’s connection to the Williams seat makes sense. After all, Williams have run Mercedes power units ever since the sport moved to V6 turbo hybrid engines. As the second half of the season continues on, we’re ever closer to finding out if there will be two Dutch drivers on the grid for 2023.

Advert | Become a RaceFans supporter and go ad-free

Here to stay?

George Russell, Williams, Zandvoort, 2021
Is the hugely popular race here to stay?
It seems far too early to be questioning the Dutch Grand Prix’s place on the modern Formula 1 calendar before it has even hosted its second event since returning to the world championship last season, but even as one of the sport’s newer events, there is no guarantee that Formula 1 will stick around long into the future.

Originally, the updated Zandvoort circuit was supposed to host the Dutch Grand Prix back in 2020, until the onset of Covid put paid to those plans. With promoters having signed a three-year deal with FOM to host the race, F1 reworked the deal to run the race across three seasons beginning in 2021 instead. After last year’s successful race, 2022’s edition marks the second of the three-year contract, meaning next year’s Dutch Grand Prix is the last one that has its place on the calendar assured, unless a two-year option is taken up.

With such intense competition over the right to host grands prix resulting in even the Belgian Grand Prix at Spa-Francorchamps coming under question – before Formula 1 announced it would at least race there in 2023 – not even the home race of a soon-to-be-multiple world champion can be deemed safe until FOM have signed on the dotted line of an extension.

Advert | Become a RaceFans supporter and go ad-free

Are you going to the Dutch Grand Prix?

If you’re heading to Netherlands for this weekend’s race, we want to hear from you:

Who do you think will be the team to beat in the Dutch Grand Prix? Have your say below.

And don’t forget to enter your predictions for this weekend’s race. You can edit your predictions until the start of qualifying:

2022 Dutch Grand Prix

Browse all 2022 Dutch Grand Prix articles

Author information

Will Wood
Will has been a RaceFans contributor since 2012 during which time he has covered F1 test sessions, launch events and interviewed drivers. He mainly...

Got a potential story, tip or enquiry? Find out more about RaceFans and contact us here.

33 comments on “Will first Dutch champion produce more heroics at home? Five Zandvoort talking points”

  1. Sat at home, watching on the TV. I like the flares, sport by its nature is partisan, and it’s a fantastically visible representation of that – and perhaps I just like the aesthetic. Some tracks it’s hard to tell if there is anyone there at all, but Silverstone and others really add to the drama.

    I would like it if it was incorporated into the F1 games. First lap of Zandvoort with Max leading there’s an orange haze above you as you race through the dunes.

    But if I’d payed hundreds of euros for a ticket, travelled there, found a spot, watched the build up and then as soon as it starts I couldn’t see anything, I think I’d quickly change my mind. I’ve never stood close to a flare (I don’t even know what they’re made of) but I can’t imagine it’s fun.

    I guess there isn’t a way to make it a video game thing – but not a real-life thing.

    1. But if I’d payed hundreds of euros for a ticket, travelled there, found a spot, watched the build up and then as soon as it starts I couldn’t see anything, I think I’d quickly change my mind. I’ve never stood close to a flare (I don’t even know what they’re made of) but I can’t imagine it’s fun.

      As someone who has done all of the above, I can tell you it’s really not so bad :)
      Like you said, it adds to the atmosphere plus the flare smoke dissipates quickly and does not linger, so it’s not a problem for me.

      1. @bernasaurus @Moi Flare smoke is not toxic as such but can cause allergic reactions and for people standing close by it’s possible to be burned.

        flare smoke dissipates quickly

        No it doesn’t, it’s no meant just disapear it’s meant attract attention.

        and does not linger

        Yes it does please read above comment.

        1. Umm I was there last year, and this weekend. So let me be ghe judge of my own experience, thanks.

  2. A tougher time for Verstappen at home? – Maybe, but he’s still a favorite on pace.
    Banking on better racing – Even if the DRS zone starting point remains unchanged for the entire event, the extended zone length won’t improve overtaking into Tarzan.
    Flare-ups – I’m indifferent & they haven’t necessarily been a safety issue at any point.
    Double Dutch – Perhaps unless Sargeant dropped low enough not to reach the minimum SL-point requirement.
    Here to stay? – Yes, most likely.

  3. Jelle van der Meer (@)
    31st August 2022, 8:41

    Here to stay? The Zandvoort contract is a 3 + 2 year contract with the option for the extra 2 years on Zandvoort side.
    Given the extension of Max contract to 2028 and the ever increasing popularity and current success of Max, Zandvoort should have no problems securing sponsorships and financing for the very likely higher hosting fee in the +2 years.

  4. I think this is among the worst tracks to hold an F1 race at. I understand F1 wanted to race in Netherlands and the atmosphere is great and all, but it would had been better if they had build an up-to-date circuit for it. This track is only interesting for qualifying. A bit like Monaco, but faster.

    1. Agreed.
      It’s a really fun circuit for the driver, but woefully dull if your not inside the car.

      And people complain about other events being held primarily for the financial aspect….
      But it’s okay if it’s in Western Europe, I take it…

      1. I consider it ok because the stands are rammed full of fans going crazy for a driver and creating a great atmosphere. If we saw similar scenes in Bahrain, Saudi Arabia etc., then I don’t think people would have such a problem with the expansion to new places, but they do when it feels like races are being taken away from where the fans are to places where governments are prepared to pay a hefty hosting fee without worrying much about selling tickets. And it’s not just Western Europe, I would be disappointed to lose Japan, Brazil, Mexico, Canada, Australia for similar reasons.

        1. @f1hornet is correct with his choices.

    2. That’s rich coming from you @spafrancorchamps, almost like you didn’t have a contract for next year…

  5. The DRS zone was fine last year. It allowed the cars to get alongside one another without making overtaking too easy. With this year’s cars able to follow more closely, it is unlikely an extension to DRS will be needed.

    As I said at the time, it feels like this is more about the spectacle of seeing cars going round a banked corner with the DRS open than it is about improving the racing.

  6. Please ban flares. Not just here but everywhere.

    1. they should just stick to those orange flared pants.

      1. I saw also red flares from some Ferrari fans seems those are increasing popularity I wonder if we see them on Monza in a much greater amount red smoke.

        I am fine with it before the start or at the end of the race NOT during the race.

    2. Flares and fireworks are in fact banned at zandvoort circuit.

    3. Flares are already forbidden at Zandvoort but that doesn’t mean they will not be there

  7. Nobody mentioned the difference between the current and last years chassis? It seems obvious to me they are better able to follow closer this year and for longer. If you can stay closer, you might have a better chance at an overtake at Tarzan. Or maybe Hans Ernst now. If the DRS effect is too much now then we’ll effectively see no overtakes, apart from a DRS assisted drive-by into Tarzan

  8. Siddharth Mehta (@)
    31st August 2022, 11:25

    I found the DRS zone fine the prior year. It allowed the vehicles to draw near to one another without simplifying overpowering exorbitantly. With the ongoing year’s vehicles prepared to follow even more eagerly, it is implausible that an extension to DRS will be required.

  9. On the F1 games, Zandvoort is definitely my favourite track to drive. This is because, on the games, the turbulent air effect is practically non-existent, and DRS is relatively ineffective. This means you can run extremely close to the car in front for the whole lap but it is so difficult to make a pass, and it means battles last so many laps and when you do get the move done it is always a really good pass (around the outside at the banked turn three and then getting the inside for the next series of fast corners is the best spot).

    For this reason, I am really looking forward to seeing a race in Zandvoort with these new cars which can follow more closely, and can only hope that the DRS isn’t too powerful. Then if a car is out of position we could genuinely see a Jarama 1981 situation where they all run extremely close together but can’t quite make a pass, with battles lasting so many laps, but if someone does make an overtake it will be a brilliant one. Being difficult to overtake is not a problem, it can be a benefit if the cars can run closely, which is perhaps why one of the best battles of the season was the Russell-Verstappen scrap for the lead in Catalunya. And with Zandvoort generally being a good track to watch the cars on anyway, this could become one of the best tracks on the calendar, as long as it isn’t ruined by DRS.

  10. Verstappen won last year against what most people believed was the better car this season he has arguably the best car, so unless something goes wrong he would have to be odds on favourite.

    1. Yes, and mercedes was indeed fast at zandvoort last year, verstappen drove really well with no mistakes to keep them behind.

    2. It was the stratic game which kept Max ahead because Lewis was very fast.

  11. I believe flares are actually banned at some circuits e.g. Silverstone. I don’t see why there should be different rules in different places e.g. for fans of Max?

    I think flares are to some extent toxic and they might affect someone’s breathing. They will definitely affect visibility from the stands/viewing areas. If people have paid a lot of money for tickets, I don’t think they will be very pleased to possibly miss the start of the race because they cannot see for flare smoke. Then there is always a small risk that the smoke could affect driver visibility, although this is less likely with them being so low down.

    Why not have a rule, which was suggested before, that the crowd can only let off flares at the end of the race, as a celebration? Of course people might not be so happy if their driver (Max ?) does not win the race.

    It’s not only Max fans of course. But I think I have only seen flares let off by the Orange army (a lot lately) and in Italy by what we can assume are Ferrari fans. Possibly in Germany as well. They are not common to all countries.

    1. “I don’t see why there should be different rules in different places” Do they sell beer at Muslim/Arab tracks? (FWIW, DGAF)

      1. LOL. Well yes. But the selling of beer does not really relate to/affect the ability to watch the race. Well it may do, if you have too much.

        1. On the site it says clearly that flares are forbidden. In Spa it was already a lot less. After Austria hopefully the real fans will make sure we have a great and fun event. Whomever may win (although I hope Max…)

    2. Were they banned on Silverstone why did we saw so many flares then?

  12. Easy win for Verstappen, I do not see much chance of anything else.. He is winning unappossed at a rate common to Vettel and Schumacher.


    1. Yeah it is getting boring. Let’s see when people start booing at him like they did to Vettel, Hamilton and everyone else who were dominating. This underlines even more the fact that Charles is the underdog and more people want him to win and challenge Max.

    2. I expect that Charles will very much going for the win as this circuit is very good for Ferrari. Maybe we will see even Mercedes there……

    3. Andy (@andyfromsandy)
      1st September 2022, 9:30

      Elsewhere Verstappen is trying to talk down the cars dominance. I don’t think it is working.

      I wonder how many races it will be before the FIA / Brawn try to interfere?

Comments are closed.