Preview | Dutch Grand Prix returns to Zandvoort after 36 years

31-08-2021 09:00
by GPblog.com
F1 News
Preview | Dutch Grand Prix returns to Zandvoort after 36 years

The time has finally come. After 36 years of waiting the Dutch Grand Prix is back on the Formula 1 calendar. This weekend 20 F1 cars will race over Zandvoort. Will Max Verstappen cause an earthquake in the dunes with a victory, or will Lewis Hamilton succeed his good friend Niki Lauda as the last winner in the Netherlands? This is the preview of the Dutch GP 2021.

Zandvoort Circuit

In 1985 Bernie Ecclestone was clear about the Zandvoort Circuit. Formula 1 cars stopped visiting the circuit. The circuit was too small, the paddock too small and the road to Zandvoort always caused problems. Besides that, the Netherlands hardly had the money to compete with the bigger countries. The Netherlands disappeared from the calendar.

For years the Dutch Grand Prix was also not an option at all because of these problems until Prince Bernhard bought the circuit in 2016. The son of Pieter van Vollenhoven wanted to make something of the illustrious circuit. With Max Verstappen at the top of Formula 1 at Red Bull Racing, an ambitious project began in Zandvoort at the same time.

In November 2018, it became clear that Formula 1 and Zandvoort were actually talking to each other. Charlie Whiting had visited the circuit and saw possibilities. In March 2019, a provisional deal was reached, provided that adjustments would be made to the circuit. Zandvoort got the funding for that, and on May 14, 2019, the return of the Dutch Grand Prix was confirmed.

With the four million euros that the circuit got to spend, a lot of changes have been made to the circuit. The Hugenholtzbocht and the Arie Luyendijkbocht were banking. They were turned into corners. Also the paddock and the pitlane were updated and of course, the safety had to be improved as well.

In essence, the characteristics of Zandvoort have remained intact, but modern F1 cars should be able to race here again. It is a circuit for drivers with guts, and a fast lap on Saturday will be very important for Sunday.

The Dutch Grand Prix

The plans for a Dutch Grand Prix already started before the Second World War. In 1939 the first street race was organised on the 3rd of June. But the war spoiled the plans and the construction of a permanent circuit had to wait. The first version of the Zandvoort circuit was opened in 1948.

In the dunes of Zandvoort, the circuit was, despite few corners, immediately a challenge for drivers. With well-known corners like Bos uit, the Hugenholtzbocht and Scheivlak the Netherlands could distinguish itself. The first race was organised in 1948 and until 1951 the Dutch GP remained an unofficial race. In 1952 the race was added to the F1 calendar for the first time.

The first race at the Zandvoort circuit was won by Prince Bira from Thailand, where the first official GP was won by Alberto Ascari. He would win the first two editions of the Dutch GP. In 1954, 1956 and 1957 the Dutch GP was not held, after which it was on the F1 calendar every year from 1958 to 1985 (with the exception of 1972).

Through the years you see very few 'small names' winning the Dutch GP. Jim Clark has won four times in the Netherlands and holds the record, with Jackie Stewart and Niki Lauda behind him. The Austrian was the last person to win the race in the Netherlands. Ascari, Jack Brabham, James Hunt and Alain Prost also won this Grand Prix twice. Ferrari won the most as a team. A Ferrari driver stood on the highest step of the podium 9 times.

Formula 1 in 2021

Since the last Dutch Grand Prix, a lot has changed in Formula 1. Bernie Ecclestone is no longer at the helm of the sport, now there are 22 races on the calendar instead of 16 and with Max Verstappen, the Netherlands has a strong driver of their own.

Verstappen is fighting for the world title with Hamilton in 2021, and that might just cause some fireworks at Zandvoort. Verstappen will be supported in his fight with Hamilton at Zandvoort, where Hamilton will be opposed. Roles reversed from Silverstone. The most important thing in F1 however is the car, so it will be a matter of finding out which team has things in the best order.

Weather forecast

After the fiasco at the Belgian Grand Prix people are anxiously looking at the weather forecast. According to Weather.com it is going to rain on Sunday in Zandvoort. Where it rained all weekend in Belgium this does not seem to be the case in the Netherlands. For Sunday a chance of 39 percent rain is indicated, but for the rest of the weekend, that number is below 20 percent.

This weekend will also be a lot warmer than during the Belgian GP. Where the temperature didn't rise above twenty degrees Celsius, it will be twenty degrees Celsius on Friday and Saturday in Zandvoort, and despite the rain 23 degrees Celsius is expected for Sunday. The chance of a similar scenario as in Spa, therefore, seems small.

Prediction for the GP

Normally it is difficult to make a prediction for a Grand Prix, but with a circuit as good as new it is even more of a gamble who will come out on top. Normally you would put Red Bull Racing ahead of the pack here due to the short and twisty nature of the circuit, but that was also expected in Hungary.

In Hungary, however, it was Mercedes that beat the clock in qualifying, after which we never saw the real pace of the Red Bull in the race. Red Bull should normally win on such a track, which then makes Verstappen the instant favourite, but Budapest also taught us that we can't write down a winner too early in 2021.

Schedule for the 2021 Dutch Grand Prix

Friday

First free practice: 10:30 - 11:30

Second free practice: 14:00 - 15:00

Saturday

Third free practice: 11:00 - 12:00

Qualifying: 14:00 - 15:00

Sunday

Race: 14:00 - 16:00

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