Formula 1 resumes after the summer break on the shores of the North Sea in the Netherlands, at the Zandvoort track. The Dutch Grand Prix is the 13th round of 22 this season.
The Zandvoort track has hosted all 32 editions of this race which returned to the calendar two years ago, the venue having undergone significant renovations. The facility is still quite small, but its characteristics make it instantly recognisable, especially the parabolic corners at turns 3 and 14, the last one leading onto the main straight. Then there's also the wind which always blows sand from the beaches onto the track. Also slightly banked is Tarzan corner, the hard right at the end of the start-finish straight where, with the aid of DRS, overtaking is possible. In fact, passing another car is pretty difficult at Zandvoort, as the track is narrow and generally twisty. It means that qualifying has great importance here. Apart from the straight, there is another DRS zone between turns 10 and 11.
Zandvoort is a medium-high downforce track, with a surface that is particularly abrasive on tyres and setting up the cars has to take these factors into consideration. As the drivers and engineers search for the best car balance they have to prepare well for qualifying, while also paying particular attention to race pace to deal with Sunday's 72 laps.
Robert Shwartzman will make his season's debut at the wheel of the SF-23 at Zandvoort. The Scuderia test driver will use Carlos' car for Friday's first practice session, as per the rule that states that, at least once per season, each driver must give up his seat during a Friday session for a young driver. Last year, Robert drove the F1-75 in free practice for the United States Grand Prix in Austin and in the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix at Yas Marina.
Frederic Vasseur, Team Principal: We have recharged our batteries and are ready to go again. We can do so off the back of a strong showing in Belgium that ended with a well-deserved podium for Charles, which was down to excellent preparation and a race that was well executed in terms of strategy, pace, tyre management and pit stops.
Even though we will as usual be focusing on our own efforts, we are well aware that, on a short lap like Zandvoort, the gaps between the teams behind Red Bull will be even closer than at Spa. Qualifying is particularly important at this track and the top ten on the grid will probably be fought out to the thousandth of a second. It will be a very busy weekend and we are aiming for a clean time on track to allow Charles and Carlos to get the maximum out of the SF-23.
Ferrari at the Dutch GP
GP entered 31
Debut 1952 (A. Ascari 1st; G. Farina 2nd; L. Villoresi 3rd; C. De Tornaco ret.)
Wins 8 (25.81%)
Pole positions 7 (22.58%)
Fastest race laps 10 (32.26%)
Total podiums 25 (26.88%)
Three questions to Robert Schwartzman...
How do you feel about driving the SF-23 for the first time, having worked on it in the simulator a lot?
Robert Schwartzman: I am very excited to be driving the SF-23 after having worked on its development in the simulator. Driving a Formula 1 car during a round of the World Championship is really special and something to be proud of, especially with Scuderia Ferrari, the team that has supported me throughout my career. Before the summer break, I did a half day's testing to get used to being in the cockpit once again, as it's been quite a while since I last drove a Formula 1 car. Even though it was in an SF21, which is very different from this year's car and runs on 13 inch tyres, it was still very useful preparation for this Free Practice in Zandvoort. It will be interesting for me to compare the SF-23 with last year's F1-75 which I drove twice, at last year's United States and Abu Dhabi Grands Prix.
What's the plan for Friday's first free practice session? What can you do that will be of use to the team over the race weekend?
RS: From my side, I will do my best to help the team as much as possible by completing the work plan which aims to get the most out of the car both in terms of set-up work as well as gathering data that can be useful to the team for the second part of the season. In fact, the development programme going on behind the scenes in Maranello needs as much data as possible to move forward at an even faster rate.
You've driven the Dutch track on the simulator, what are its characteristics?
RS: Zandvoort is one of the most challenging tracks on the calendar and I've only once driven it for real, before the layout was modified, so it will seem very new to me. From driving it on the simulator, I can say it is very demanding, with steeply banked corners, different lines and it's also very tough on the car which is pushed to the limit in many areas. Although it's quite complex, it's also a very interesting track to drive so I expect to be able to enjoy myself a lot this coming Friday.
Dutch Grand Prix - Facts & Figures
6. The position of the Netherlands in the list of the happiest countries in the world according to the 2020 World Happiness Report. The investigation covered 156 countries, looking at factors such as expectations for a healthy life, freedom, confidence and social support. The Netherlands comes out significantly happier than its neighbours, with Germany in 17th place and Belgium 20th. The five countries ahead of it on the list are Finland, Denmark, Switzerland, Iceland and Norway.
22. The number of millions of bicycles in the Netherlands, thus outnumbering the inhabitants of which there are 17 million. The ingenious cargo bike, that combines a bicycle with a large box at the front that can be used to transport children, pets or shopping is particularly popular. On average, a Dutch person does around a thousand kilometres a year split between 250 to 300 trips. The fact there are so many of them means that the bicycle is the most stolen item in the country, with around 100,000 going missing each year, so make sure you lock it up.
32. The millions of kilos of liquorice consumed each year in the Netherlands, an average of two kilos per person, the highest figure in the world. Liquorice is reputed to have anti-inflammatory and other useful medical properties which is why it is so popular. However, beware, as eating too much of it can be bad for the liver and the cardiovascular system as well as causing hypertension. So take it easy on the liquorice.
182.53. The average height in centimetres of Dutch men, while the figure for women is 175.62. Yes, this means the Dutch are the tallest people in the world although there is no plausible reason for this. The received wisdom in the Netherlands is that it is down to high consumption of dairy products, although not everyone believes this theory.
1991. The year of the first F3 Masters to be held at Zandvoort. For a quarter of a century, up until 2016, it was one of the most important races in the category. Out of the 22 editions, 13 winners went on to race in Formula 1. A few names? Lewis Hamilton, David Coulthard, Jos and Max Verstappen, Valtteri Bottas a two-time winner, Jules Bianchi and Antonio Giovinazzi.