After an extensive dominance by Red Bull at the Spa-Francorchamps circuit, Formula 1 arrives in Zandvoort for the Dutch GP, home of reigning champion and championship leader Max Verstappen.
However, the characteristics of the Dutch circuit are very different from the Belgian track and that is why Red Bull should not be that dominant – despite being in a great phase of the season.
So, as a way of getting into the spirit of the Dutch GP, which returned to the calendar last year after a 36-year hiatus, the Auto Chat listed some curiosities about the race that takes place in Zandvoort.
Some figures from the Dutch GP
Before breaking with Formula 1 and resuming activities in 2021, the track located in the Netherlands hosted F1 on 30 occasions, the first of which was in the beginnings of the biggest category of motorsport, in 1952.
In the first edition, the winner was Alberto Ascari, leading a triple of Scuderia Ferrari. Interestingly, Ascari won his first title that year.
Speaking of Ferrari, the Italians are the biggest winners of the Dutch GP and have climbed to the top of the podium on eight occasions. If the 9th victory comes this year, it’s hard to nail it. The F1-75 is a good car and the characteristics of the track favor it, however, with the amount of mess that the Maranello team has committed this year, it is difficult to expect anything from them…
Jim Clark is the biggest winner on the circuit and knew Zandvoort like few others. The two-time champion won there on four occasions: 1964, 1965, 1967 and 1968. As for the numbers of Brazilians, Nelson Piquet was the only one to win there, in 1980.
Max Verstappen Effect
Verstappen made his Formula 1 debut at the age of 17 and, despite some frequent mistakes common to inexperienced youngsters, the Dutchman showed a lot of speed and was already emerging as a future world champion.
Always under the umbrella of Red Bull, Max showed his talent when he managed to win races in years when Mercedes was extremely dominant (as in 2019 and 2020 when the German team swam in Formula 1).
The current world champion’s popularity grew and, little by little, the European racetracks – mainly in Belgium and Austria – were taken over by the “orange sea”, Dutch fans who insisted on seeing the young prodigy’s performances up close.
The success was so great that there was no way F1 could not look to Holland as a GP stage. So, the solution was to renovate the already known Zandvoort racetrack so that it would conform to the FIA safety regulations and be able to host a race in the category.
The works began in 2019 and the objective was for the track to return to the calendar in 2020. However, the restrictive measures of the Covid-19 pandemic prevented the event from taking place, which was only present again last year, with the victory of the house pilot.
The sloping curves of Zandvoort
The curve designs help to intensify the identity of the Dutch GP race track. One of the main ones is Arie Luyendyk, 14th and last, which gives access to the main straight and has an inclination of no less than 18º. By way of comparison, the slopes on the legendary Indianapolis oval circuit are ‘only’ 9th.
The slopes in the sections of Zandvoort are not necessarily for the pilot to show his piloting skills. They also help to increase competitiveness and overtaking points during the race.
With this configuration at Arie Luyendyk, the track gained 340m of total acceleration which, added to the 678m extension of the main straight, results in a stretch of more than 1km with the foot down. That way the car can enter the straight with more speed, better overtaking place on the track.
For the 2022 Dutch GP, Formula 1 is testing during Free Practice whether the opening of the Mobile Wing on the stretch is safe. If this is confirmed, the final speed will be even higher and the fights in the braking of Turn 1 (Tarzan) will be more interesting.
Turn 3 also has a slope and cars arrive at it for braking at approximately 270 km/h. However, the difference in swell at this point is not meant to increase the possibility of overtaking – as it is ‘glued’ in turns 4 and 5′ – but it does bring an additional challenge to the drivers and teams.
name of curves
Circuits around the world often have corners that are named for different reasons – whether it’s a special event, a tribute to an important person, or simply to create a greater connection between the audience and the track.
It couldn’t be different for the Dutch GP stage, and two of its main corners received curious nicknames.
Starting with curve 1, called Tarzan, which despite the similarity in name has nothing to do with the fictional character created by writer Edgar Rice Burroughs.
In fact, the origin of the name is a mystery and there are two versions that explain the choice. The most popular says that when the track was built in 1948, a man nicknamed Tarzan only agreed to give up part of his land if the stretch was named after him. The other side of the story says that the origin is from a machine that was used to make the race track.
Sloping turns 3 (Hugenholtz) and 14 (Luyendyk) pay homage to personalities who played an important role in Dutch motorsport. The former is alluding to John Hugenholtz, former circuit director, while the latter is a tribute to driver Arie Luyendyk, winner of the Indianapolis 500 on two occasions.
‘Kartódromo’, roller coaster or racetrack?
Despite having some interesting features, Zandvoort is not a track that provides a lot of overtaking.
Riders have already said that they like it because of the more ‘roots’ aspect with the walls very close to the track and gravel escape areas that punish the competitor who makes mistakes.
For those who play video games, the circuit is also very cool. Added to the root essence, it brings a mix of high and low speed turns that go both left and right, which makes everything a little more challenging.
Lando Norris, a McLaren driver, even compared the slopes and the different corner takings with a roller coaster.
These attributes make the Dutch GP interesting for those in the action, but the same cannot be said for those watching. After all, in addition to the characteristics that in themselves make overtaking difficult, the track is very narrow and some people compare it to a kart track. Therefore, putting a car side by side is quite complicated and the races end up becoming monotonous.