The Dutch GP will return to the Formula 1 calendar for the first time in 35 years in 2020 – giving Max Verstappen his first home race.
Zandvoort, which is on the North Sea coast and 40 minutes by car from Amsterdam, was a mainstay of the calendar during F1’s first four decades but the circuit last staged a Grand Prix in 1985.
‘Verstappen mania’ is being credited for the race’s revival with the 21-year-old Red Bull driver having cultivated a huge following in his homeland in his first five years in F1. Thousands of Dutch fans regularly travel to races around Europe, such as Spa and Austria, with their orange T-shirts prominent in grandstands.
F1 confirmed Zandvoort has signed a deal for a minimum of three years, with reports suggesting it includes the option of another two.
The revived Dutch race is expected to take place in early May 2020, although no date has yet been confirmed, the slot normally held by the Spanish GP. The Barcelona event does not currently have an F1 contract for next season.
The Dutch GP is the second new event confirmed for next year’s calendar with a maiden street race in Vietnam’s capital, Hanoi, already announced for the April.
“From the beginning of our tenure in Formula 1, we said we wanted to race in new venues, while also respecting the sport’s historic roots in Europe,” said F1 chairman Chase Carey. “Next season therefore, we will have a brand new street race that will be held in the Vietnamese capital of Hanoi, as well the return to Zandvoort, after an absence of 35 years; a track that has contributed to the popularity of the sport all over the world.
“In recent years, we’ve seen a resurgence of interest in Formula 1 in Holland, mainly due to the enthusiastic support for the talented Max Verstappen, as seen from the sea of orange at so many races. No doubt this will be the dominant colour in the Zandvoort grandstands next year.”
Verstappen, who won the prestigious junior Zanvoort Masters title in 2014, gives an insight into the 4.3km track and which exisiting F1 circuit it resembles.
“It’s just an iconic, historic track” he commented. “I have raced there before with F3 and it was a lot of fun. I compare the track a little bit with Suzuka because it’s designed by the same person so I can understand that the characteristics are a bit similar.
“It’s a pretty quick track and it’s always good and exciting to have new ones on the calendar. I’ve done a few laps and donuts in an F1 car there too and the track was actually pretty challenging because you have a few banked corners, some places are very narrow and there’s no run off. It’s very cool, and with no run off, it’s quite hard to find the limit. On some other tracks it’s a bit easier but that also makes it more exciting.”
Track officials say the circuit will be “modernised within a few areas” ahead of next year, with access to the seaside venue also having recently been improved.