Zandvoort, 2022

Zandvoort’s ‘fake’ gravel gets early thumbs-up from drivers

2022 Dutch Grand Prix

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Some of Zandvoort’s gravel run-off has been permanently stuck to the ground ahead of this weekend’s Dutch Grand Prix.

Usually gravel is a loose surface layer, with masses of small rocks, pebbles and sand distributed by trucks onto the spaces around a race track.

Due to it being loose, when drivers run through a gravel run-off area they can then bring some of the stones and the sand back onto the asphalt, making it less grippy and therefore increasing the chances of other drivers sliding into the gravel.

To reduce the chance of this occurring, the Zandvoort circuit has treated a one-metre wide border at turns 11 and 12 with an epoxy resin, adhering the gravel to the ground beneath. Its roughness means it will still slow cars down, but it means drivers are less likely to bring stones back on to the track once they rejoin.

This is another method that has been used in Formula 1 this year to discourage drivers from exceeding track limits. Spa-Francorchamps, host of last weekend’s Belgian Grand Prix, brought back gravel traps in several areas where there had previously been asphalt run-off, a move that F1’s drivers assessed had made a positive change after racing at the updated track.

“[At] turn one in Spa, everyone was well-behaved because there was gravel,” said Daniel Ricciardo. “So I like gravel.”

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Much of Zandvoort’s track layout, due to being located on the soft ground of a sand dune and therefore being more prone to long-term movement, is built on raised pieces of ground and means there are dips at either side of the asphalt on many straights and the non-banked corners where grass – and now gravel – lies. This also discourages drivers from dropping a wheel off either side of the track, and a hot and dry summer means the ground will also be harder and bumpier than in 2021.

‘Fake’ gravel run-off at turn 12
Formula 3 driver Victor Martins believes fixing the gravel in place at turns 11 and 12 will reduce the disruption during sessions.

“I think it will be a good idea to do that because last year was just a mess, to be honest. In that corner with the gravel always when you were coming, lap after lap, it was the same.

“One lap you were able to to keep the line, the lap after you were losing two or three things because you were the first one to arrive in that corner with the gravel on it. So we will see. I think there will be margin for us to not put too much gravel on on the track.”

However he is concerned some cars racing this weekend, such as the Porsche Supercup competitors, may be able to lift the gravel from the track apron. “I don’t know if it will be solid,” he said. “[They] might remove a bit. So we will see how it will stay like that.

“But if it is staying like that, then I think it’s a good idea to make it because I don’t think you can gain an advantage by going there, and at the same time it doesn’t disturb the racing line. So we will see. For sure, if there is no red flag because of that, it will be a good idea.”

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2022 Dutch Grand Prix

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Author information

Ida Wood
Often found in junior single-seater paddocks around Europe doing journalism and television commentary, or dabbling in teaching photography back in the UK. Currently based...

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13 comments on “Zandvoort’s ‘fake’ gravel gets early thumbs-up from drivers”

  1. Should be nice and slippery when it’s wet.

  2. Resin bonded gravel is not new, just look as the driveways of big houses in Hertfordshire ;)

    One of the key characteristics of resin bonded gravel is increased traction, as it is essentially the same thing as the blue and red stripes at Paul Ricard. This is just clear resin. Usually, RBG is laid over a tarmac or concrete substrate, but this doesn’t look like that, this looks like they’ve got a metaphorical bucket of the stuff and poured it over the gravel trap. I hope that’s what they’ve done, and not the standard construction. Hopefully it’s bonded to it’s full depth too, not just the top couple of layers of stones
    Depending on how flexible, friable and clean it is, the drivers may find running a tyre over these strips is not detrimental to their lap time as they think. I guarantee at least one of the drivers is going to put a couple of wheels on it in FP to see, probably Ricciardo or Alonso. Whatever happens, stopping the dirt and bits of gravel being chucked up every time someone dips a wheel onto it is going to be better than it was.

  3. As soon as i read the word fake gravel, I knew it would be real gravel treated with resin. How does that then make the gravel itself fake exactly?

    1. It’s like plastic surgery, @thegianthogweed. Everyone can tells it’s fake. ;-)

  4. Biskit Boy (@sean-p-newmanlive-co-uk)
    2nd September 2022, 8:53

    Slightly worried it might start coming out in big chunks.

    1. @sean-p-newmanlive-co-uk
      Yes my first thought as well…
      The support races should prove this though

      1. @sean-p-newmanlive-co-uk:
        Friends trackside report multiple cars have plowed through but it’s holding out just fine

  5. Lewisham Milton
    2nd September 2022, 11:52

    Sounds like an aggregate win.
    Now, can they put glue in the flares as well?

  6. My scepticism would be that it actually slows the cars down who run over it. If it does actually cause a loss of traction then great, otherwise it’s no different from just having concrete/tarmac there.

  7. What next? Going to Rally Sweden and trying to glue the snow together?!

  8. the picture makes it look like much more than one meter . . . .

  9. So… it’s just asphalt but with clear plastic resin instead of bitumen. And perhaps rougher gravel than normally used in race track asphalt. So it’s an asphalt run-off, but we are going to call it a version of gravel because that is what the crowds and drivers want right now. Cool.

  10. This is essentially a tarmac apron surrounding the gravel trap, just treated to look like gravel. It looks nice but I bet the cars will run with 3 wheels on this strip with no ill effects.

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