The Dutch Grand Prix at the historic Zandvoort circuit will return to Formula One in 2020 after an absence of 35 years.
The new contract will run for at least three years, with the race set to be squeezed into a date ahead of Monaco on the 2020 calendar.
The circuit, located 18 miles from the centre of Amsterdam on the Dutch coast, was regularly featured as a world championship race between 1952 and its last race 1985, failing to appear on the calendar just four times in that spell. The rise of Red Bull driver Max Verstappen, who has become one of the sport’s biggest stars since his debut in 2015 and maiden victory in 2016, made its return seem inevitable in recent years.
It means 2020 will feature two new additions, with the Vietnam Grand Prix in Hanoi already confirmed last year. That would take the number of races to an unprecedented 23, although five of the current circuits — Spain, Great Britain, Germany, Italy and Mexico — have contracts that are due to expire at the end of this year.
“We are particularly pleased to announce that Formula One is returning to race in the Netherlands, at the Zandvoort track,” F1 CEO Chase Carey said. “From the beginning of our tenure in Formula One, we said we wanted to race in new venues, while also respecting the sport’s historic roots in Europe.
“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 One 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.”
Although Monza, the host of the Italian Grand Prix, and Silverstone, the host of the British Grand Prix, are expected to extend their existing deals, there has been no confirmation on either.
F1 owners Liberty Media hoped a Miami Grand Prix would also be joining the calendar, but those plans have fallen through after local opposition killed off the original proposal. The addition of Zandvoort will be a big boost to F1’s owners, as it represents the return of a historic venue at a time when fans are concerned about the loss of famous race tracks from the calendar.
Zandvoort. We’re coming.
The #DutchGP is back 🇳🇱
See you in 2020 👊#F1 pic.twitter.com/uUfauZ79Em
— Formula 1 (@F1) May 14, 2019
Will Zandvoort be good for racing?
F1 confirmed Zandvoort’s facilities will undergo renovations before its race next year, with updates to the infrastructure and the circuit itself to meet the FIA’s Grade 1 standards. Despite not being on the F1 calendar since 1985, it has remained a regular fixture in junior categories, meaning most drivers have had some experience of it in the past.
Haas driver Kevin Magnussen said: “If it happens I’m going to be looking forward to it. I’ve been there before in junior categories and it’s a really cool track. It has a lot of history and is actually a cool place to be with the beach. I like it and it would be good to go back there.
“Zandvoort is also a bit crazy, very narrow. It’s going to be very different, very up and down, it’s a very unique track and I’m looking forward to it.”
The narrowness of the circuit is something drivers frequently talked about when asked about it in the Barcelona last weekend. Reigning world champion Lewis Hamilton is unsure whether the circuit will produce great racing.
“It was a great circuit when I last drove there. It was just hard to overtake on. I don’t know if that’s changed now or whether something will change.
“Maybe it will be better with DRS [the Drag Reduction System overtaking aid], but I think it will be really cool.
“People always talk about Paris, but I love Amsterdam much more. It is a young, fresh city.”
Renault’s Daniel Ricciardo said: “I raced there in F3 and I remember it keeps your eyes open. The track to drive on is pretty awesome. It is high-speed, it is old-school, [you need] big balls,” he said when asked about his feelings of racing at Zandvoort next year.
“From a driving point of view it is fun. But how fast it is, and how narrow some places are, I don’t think it would be that exciting for overtaking. Just my initial feeling, I think with the speeds we go now, following another car would be very difficult. So that is my reservation with it, I think it could be a very processional race.
“Otherwise the track is cool, but we will see. I’m a bit torn because to drive on it would be fun but to race on it would be…with the width of the cars now, it is probably like a street circuit through some of the places, and then all high-speed through the middle…we will see but I think it would be tricky to make an exciting race.”
Verstappen’s boss, Red Bull team principal Christian Horner, said it’s a no-brainer to have Zandvoort back on the calendar.
“We saw it here in Spain when Alonso was in his peak. We see the amount of Dutch fans around the world, it just seems to be growing and growing, so I think a Dutch Grand Prix, with the popularity of Verstappen, is going to be immense. I think that’s positive for F1.”