Round fourteen sees Formula One return to Zandvoort after thirty-five years for the Dutch Grand Prix. Zandvoort hosted its first Grand Prix in 1948 before four years later becoming a round of the championship in 1952, but this year’s race marks the first race since 1984.
Zandvoort is a popular holiday resort about half an hour from the capital Amsterdam, it is a circuit where you instantly know where you are, although it’s going to be a new circuit for the teams and drivers as much of the historic data will be irrelevant and no driver has recent raxing experience at this circuit.
It is expected that the circuit is going to be a circuit where downforce is more important than straight-line speed, with overtaking similar to what we see in Budapest. We should then expect Ferrari, McLaren and Alpine to be leading if we expect the twisty circuit to favour downforce.
Overtaking is expected to be difficult, but Zandvoort boast iconic and unique corners, including a 180degree banked Tarzan (Tazanbocht in Dutch) corner at Turn One the most famous corner of the circuit. It’s expected to be one of the best overtaking opportunities in the race.
Zandvoort after thirty-five years is a very different circuit to the one the sport left thirty-six years ago having undergone major redevelopment with a new pit and paddock complex as well as minor changes to bring it up to current safety standards. As well as general infrastructure around the town.
The first sector of the lap largely follows the original layout, before joining the more modern circuit at Masterbocht and re-joining the start-finish at Arie Luyenduk Bocht. The word bocht means bend in English with most of the corners having it on the name.
The revival of the race has been driven by the popularity of Max Verstappen and as restrictions ease you can expect the orange army to flood the seaside resort. Zandvoort has had to wait thirty-six years for the return of F1 to the coastal resort. Before the circuit was first built the seaside resort held street races.
Following the invasion by the Nazi’s in 1939, allegedly the Mayor of Zandvoort asked the Germans. this was converted in 1948 to a part street circuit part permeant circuit by the Dutch Automobile Racing Club. Although popularly belief John Hugenholtz designed the track, it was actually designed by 1927 Le Mans winner, S. C. H. “Sammy” Davis who was brought in as a track design advisor in July 1946, although the layout was partly dictated by the existing roads.
The first Grand Prix took place in 1948, called the Zandvoort Grand Prix won by Prince Bira the only royal to race in F1. The following races were won by Louis Rosier, before the race became a round of the championship in 1952 the race being won by Alberto Ascari.
The 1950s proved patchy for the race, on off the calendar with no race in 1954, 1956 and 1957, Mercedes won a dominant race with Juan Manuel Fangio being closely followed by teammate Sir Stirling Moss. Moss would win the next race driving for Vanwall in 1956, Moss won again in 1958. Jo Bonnier took his only win in 1959.
In the mid-sixties, the race was dominated by Jim Clark, with the Lotus 49 taking victory on debut in 1967. The DFV engine became hugely popular and is the most successful power unit in F1 history remaining in use for the next eighteen years.
1970 saw the death of Williams, as it is now, driver Piers Courage, when he crashed at Oost with a wheel, came off and hit him on the head. The car, with Courage still in it, then caught fire and burned to the ground. The 1971 Championship saw Jacky Ickx win in a Ferrari after a spirited battle with Mexican Pedro Rodriguez in a BRM in rain-soaked conditions.
The second version of Zandvoort was used for the first time in 1973, with modern barriers were put, but a disorganised race unfolded, coming to a head-on lap eight when Roger Williamson crashed, ultimately killing him. The crash at Oost is thought to have been caused by a tyre failure pitching him into the barrier then the petrol tank had ignited whilst being scraped along the track, and the car caught fire.
Sir Jackie Stewart went on to become the most successful driver in the sport’s history taking a twenty-sixth career win by fifteen seconds ahead of Tyrrell team mate Francois Cevert.
1974 saw the re-emerging Ferrari team dominate with Niki Lauda winning, and 1975 saw James Hunt win his first championship Formula One race in his Hesketh. Hunt would win again in 1976, as Lauda recovered from his crash at the Nürburgring.
Hunt’s battle with Mario Andretti was a defining movement in the following year’s race, the American attempted a admissions move to pass the Englishman at Tarzan, they touch taking them both out of the race. Andretti won the 1978 running; his last Formula One victory. 1979 saw a change to the circuit to slow cars coming into Tunnel Oost; there was a high-speed temporary chicane put there.
Gilles Villeneuve battled hard with Alan Jones, causing damage to his suspension, but refusing to give up the Canadian managed to keep going. Backing his car onto the circuit before returning to the pits and retiring from the race after half distance. The following year saw a battle Between Alain Prost and Jones, with the Frenchman coming out on top.
Didier Pironi won in 1982, but fellow Frenchman Rene Arnoux had a huge crash going straight into the barriers at Tarzan after his front suspension failed on his ground-effect Renault, sending him straight into the barriers. 1983 saw a clash between Prost and title rival Nelson Piquet.
Prost tried to pass Piquet at Tarzan but the Frenchman punted Piquet off and Prost crashed soon afterwards. 1985 saw Lauda take his 25th and final Grand Prix victory while holding off his charging McLaren teammate Prost near the end of the race.
Facts and figures
|Round||14 of 23|
|Race||Formula 1 Heineken Grote Prijs van Nederland 2021|
|Venue||Circuit Zandvoort, Zandvoort, Netherlands|
|Config||2020 Grand Prix Circuit|
|Circuit Length||4.252km (2.642 mi)|
|Race Distance||306.144km (190.229 mi)|
|Lap Record||01:31.977 (Mike Cantillon, FW07C, Historic F1, 2020)|
|Most wins driver||Jim Clark (4)|
|Most wins manufacture||Ferrari (9)|
- Zandvoort has had the longest wait between world championship Grands Prix waiting thirty-six years to host formula One again.
- Carel Godin de Beaufort and Gijs van Lennep are the only Dutch drivers to have scored a point in their home race, after finishing sixth in 1962 and 1973 respectively. Verstappen will be hoping to become the third to do so in 2021.
- Jo Bonnier recorded the only win, podium and pole position of his F1 career at the Dutch Grand Prix in 1959. It was also the first of 17 wins and 11 pole positions for BRM.
- During its 30 F1 races so far, 49 different drivers have finished on the podium.
- Jim Clark holds the record for most laps led at Zandvoort with 370, that 190 more than Niki Lauda and Alberto Ascari.
What to watch for?
Zandvoort historically has seen great hard battles, the return to the circuit this year is set to see the battle between Sir Lewis Hamilton and Max Verstappen. In some ways looking at the circuit map and images it in some ways reminds me of Suzuka, which we know that Suzuka is a difficult circuit where overtaking is tough and mistakes are punished.
This feels like the right time for Zandvoort’s comeback, Verstappen is genuinely still in this championship fight as we know circuits either swing towards Red Bull or Mercedes slightly, but I think a lot could be decided at Spa in terms of who gets momentum into this triple header.
We know we have a great midfield battle this season, you have to believe this battle in the second half of the season is going between McLaren and Ferrari mainly. While Spa and Monza I believe are more linked in terms of performance, I think we could see Alpine and Alpha Tauri go well.
Williams I think should be able to fight for points on paper, we saw how good George Russell was on Saturday at a circuit which shouldn’t have suited Williams. But we know wet weather is a performance leveller. Spa makes this race a bigger unknown as we didn’t get a race.
I think Zandvoort is going to be like Budapest, a high downforce circuit where overtaking maybe more difficult to overtake from what I’ve heard from drivers. This isn’t a Title-Drome, this is an old circuit that is twisty, and we don’t have tarmac runoff areas so we could see drivers challenged to the limit.
Alpine we know won in Budapest and Alpha Tauri last year in Monza, I think these teams could be strong in the midfield. We didn’t get a race at Spa given the awful conditions, we head blind into this weekend even more so given we had no running on racing. But, the forecast for the weekend is cool but there is a risk of rain and storms after the race.
This is in effect a brand-new circuit, no real historical data, a track many drivers haven’t had recent racing experience, where the teams don’t know. I expect this race weekend. Historically this circuit has been hard on cars, but after thirty-five years and the evolution of the circuit I think is going to be quick, this is a very different situation to ‘new’ circuits, the circuit will have had eighteen months to settle which isn’t normally the case.
A lap of Zandvoort
On Board with Max Verstappen who sets himself up on the outside along the main straight before breaking about 200m before Tazan when he lines the car up to cross the track around the hairpin, before opening the car up before running to Gerlach where he lifts slightly. Stays at low speed as the car appears to glide into the banked Hugenholtz, then on exit opens the car up.
The next breaking point is Scheivlak where he goes to the inside and again opens up the care bit on the short run to the kink between seven and eight. Goes through the centre of Masterbocht, on exit lines the car up in the centre for Nine sweeping through the section towards ten, then gets the power down the straight.
Breaks about 200m before Hans Ernst going to the insides for twelve another banked sweeping corner says on the outside before on exit returning to the inside. Then through thirteen and the final corner see him goes to the centre through the final corner staying on the inside and across the line
White Hard (C1)
Yellow Medium (C2)
Red Soft (C3)