They say good things come to those who wait, and after 35 years, the iconic Circuit Zandvoort finally returns to the Formula 1 calendar.
Having hosted 30 grands prix – the first in 1952 – it’s steeped in F1 history. Many of the sport’s greats have tasted success on this legendary ribbon of asphalt near Amsterdam, and three drivers have done so behind the wheel of a McLaren: James Hunt (1976), Alain Prost (1984) and Niki Lauda (1985).
The latter’s win, his last in the sport, is remembered as one of the finest at the circuit. Niki fought his way into the lead from 10th on the grid and held off team-mate Alain for victory. Alain did however set the official race lap record, but his lap time of 1m16.538s looks set to be bettered when F1 makes its much-anticipated return in 2020.
At 4.3 km, Zandvoort ranks among the shorter tracks on the F1 calendar and its short pitlane will encourage teams to adopt multiple-stop strategies. Although it’s been absent from the F1 calendar since 1985, it’s remained a regular fixture on the junior single-seater scene. Most drivers have raced here, including our very own Carlos Sainz and Lando Norris.
Sure to be one of the most popular races of the year and just a stone’s throw away from lush, sandy beaches, this is a proper ‘old-school’ track renowned for its fast, sweeping, banked and narrow turns – the kind drivers relish – such as the Tarzan hairpin and Scheivlak. As Lando puts it: “There’s not a lot of room for error. Sometimes it can bite you, but it’s cool to be on edge.”
Naturally, the Dutch track has undergone a revamp to bring it up to current grand prix standards, but have no fear, it’s not been sanitised as a result. One of the most notable changes has been an increase in the angle of the banking of the final corner to a daunting 18 degrees – approximately double that of the banking at Indianapolis, which hosted the United States Grand Prix between 2000 and 2007.