Posted on September 2, 2021 Tags: Zandvoort.
Image courtesy Red Bull Racing.com
I WELL RECALL VISITING ZANDVOORT in Holland, back in the late ‘60s, when the weather was as foul as it was early September in Perth 2021 – blowing the clappers, with a wind chill factor undeniably south of 15C!
Fact is, chances are the squillions of Dutch fans ready to cheer on Max Verstappen this weekend at their F1 track on the North Sea coastline are in for a treat as the world’s the premier motorsport event returns to the Netherlands with a forecast that could not differ more from more the horrors that befell Belgium’s Spa-Francorchamps.
It’s been 36 years since Lewis Hamilton’s great and late good mate Nikki Lauda won the last Dutch GP, in 1985.
In those heady days Bernie Ecclestone was F1 supremo and he’d been sprouting for yonks that the Zandvoort Circuit was too small, the paddock too small and the road to Zandvoort always caused problems.
Best Buddies – Bernie Ecclestone and Lewis Hamilton.
Money was tight and the Netherlands simply could not compete with the bigger bucks on offer from bigger countries, and quickly disappeared from the F1 calendar.
Years passed and billionaire Bernie was closing on 90 when Liberty Media made an offer he didn’t refuse, the ex-used car salesman supposedly banked a trainload of dollars, and the US new guard took the helm of F1.
Meanwhile it seems a member of the Holland’s royal family had bought the ageing but illustrious 4km race track – like Silverstone, built in 1948 (but in the North Sea sand dunes) – and the Netherlands blueblood and his cashed-up team set about an ambitious project with a rebuild that would eventuate in an all-new Dutch GP – kiboshed last year by COVID.
Now, with the Orange Army like no other and their local hero at his zenith, Max Verstappen this weekend is primed to take on perhaps the biggest challenge of his extraordinary career, at home in Holland with his powerful Red Bull mates.
Provided, of course, he can keep his ride on the rails!
The changes at the new Zandvoort include turn 14, which is an impressive 18 degrees banking, and Max thinks it’s going to be a great circuit.
“I’ve only raced at Zandvoort once, during Formula 3.
“It’s been a long time since F1 came to here, so I’m definitely looking forward to it.
“The track has changed a little bit with a few corners adjusted since I last raced here.
“It’s going to be fast. It might be a bit difficult to overtake, but it will be really rewarding.
“When I raced in F3 some of the corners were really enjoyable, so with the added grip and power in an F1 car it’s going to be great.
“I think it’s going to be like Suzuka in terms of building up to qualifying – which will be very fast.
“It’s an old-school track where mistakes will be punished.”Max Verstappen
• Pirelli has chosen the three hardest compounds in the P Zero range for Zandvoort for the fourth time this season – the C1 White hard, the C2 Yellow medium, and the C3 Red soft.
According to Mario Isola, Pirelli’s F1 boss: “With some high-energy corners and no relevant previous data to fall back on, the hardest tyres are the most suitable choice.”
The Zandvoort circuit looks somewhat different to the track that last hosted F1 in 1985. In particular, turns 3 and 14 (named after former circuit director John Hugenholtz and Dutch driver Arie Luyendyk respectively) are now banked at around 19 degrees.
That’s roughly double the banking at Indianapolis, which is about nine degrees – meaning that the cars will be able to take these corners much faster than they did in the past, with more energy going through the tyres.
• Turn 14 is taken flat-out, generating forces in excess of 4g, while there are two corners with heavy braking of around 5g: the entries into Turn 1 and Turn 11. Turn 7 is another corner that generates lateral forces of about 5g, taken at over 260kph. This leads immediately into Turns 8 and 9, completing a sequence of three consecutive corners with high g forces.
• As expected from a circuit that was originally inaugurated back in 1948, Zandvoort has a distinctly old-school feel to it, with fast and narrow turns, along with a number of elevation changes.
• One of the most famous corners is the Tarzan hairpin: the first corner of the lap, which is now closer to the start-finish line than it was previously. The Hans Ernst bend towards the end of the lap also has a wider exit than it did before, enabling drivers to get on the power sooner.
Zandvoort is located in an area of sand dunes near the beach, with the wind sometimes blowing sand onto the track and affecting grip; an issue normally associated with places like Bahrain.
“The Dutch Grand Prix is obviously a new challenge but thanks to the data provided by Formula 1 and the teams, we have been able to come up with a tyre nomination and prescriptions that are closely aligned to what we can expect from this exciting new venue.
“Being a new track, the free practice sessions will also be essential when it comes to gathering real data and formulating the tyre strategy for the race.
“What’s for sure is that the circuit layout is going to place heavy demands on the tyres, as can be seen from the computer simulations that we have already carried out.
“We’ve already raced at Zandvoort in the GT World Challenge this year, and this too has provided us with some useful information.”Mario Isola
Btw, Friday won’t exactly be the first time that Pirelli tyres have circulated at Zandvoort in the modern era on a Formula 1 car: last year, Max Verstappen completed a demonstration lap in a 2012-specification Red Bull RB8!
Aussie Jack Doohan (pictured) put on a defiant defensive display in a rain hampered Spa last weekend, holding off Victor Martins and Alex Smolyar to become the first Formula 3 driver to win twice in a single round with his third victory of the season.
He is now just 25 points off championship leader Dennis Hauger, who had entered the weekend with a 63-point advantage.
Jack’s fellow countryman Calan Williams – from Perth – is back in 19th, with just Austin, Texas, to follow.
The FIA Formula 3 championship continues at Zandvoort, using the P Zero White hard tyre. With the big demands of the banked corners taking a lot of energy out of the tyres, the tyre structure is placed under heavy load – especially as there are no mandatory pit stops in F3.
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