Zandvoort will be "unforgiving" and "unpredictable"


It's fair to say that the reaction, following official confirmation that Zandvoort is to return to the F1 calendar after an absence of 35 years, has been a little mixed.

While everyone is happy that the sport is heading to a 'proper' race track rather than another wretched street circuit, a number of drivers have opined that the nature of the track will lead to "processional" races since overtaking will be difficult.

Daniel Ricciardo, Nico Hulkenberg and Daniil Kvyat have all raced at the Dutch track, the Australian having also driven an F1 car there on a demonstration run, and all admit that overtaking, even in junior formulae, is difficult.

Meanwhile, others fear that changes to the track will emasculate it, George Russell particularly concerned at the famous gravel traps.

"Zandvoort is probably in my top five favourite circuits," said the Briton. "I think it's a really incredible circuit, it's got so much character.

"Obviously safety is incredibly important these days in Formula One," he added, "but I just truly hope we don't get rid of the gravel runoffs in the two high-speed corners because that's what makes the circuit so daunting and so incredible to drive."

At which point, Sebastian Vettel, said: "If we go there, there won't be any gravel traps".

Former F1 driver and Le Mans winner, Jan Lammers who is sporting director for the Grand Prix, insists that though changes are to be made to the seaside track, which has claimed a number of lives over the years, not least Piers Courage and Roger Williamson, will be "unforgiving" and "unpredictable".

"The Gelachbocht, the open right hand corner, Turn 3 effectively, will get a bigger run-off area," revealed Lammers, according to "Turn 4, the Hugenholtz hairpin up the hill, will have a wider inside, to make the corner more fluid, so it won't be a stop-start corner.

"The same thing will happen with the S-chicane, or the Hans Ernst Bocht," he revealed. "That will also become more fluid by putting more tarmac on the inside.

"And then the Arie Luyendyk Bocht will be accommodated exactly to his liking, as it will be a little bit more like Indianapolis, because it will be banked. It will be banked in such a way that you can go flat out with DRS open, and in that way we hope to encourage more overtaking for the Tarzan corner. It will be 17 degrees, so the corner will have the same character as the last corner in Brazil.

"The other big change to enhance overtaking will be the pit entry," he continued. "That will be made quicker. So we will have pit stops of maximum elapsed time 14 seconds. If we do that we hope that we can create three-pitstop strategies. And as we all know it's the pit stops and the confrontation of old tyres versus new tyres, that is what creates the overtaking. That's why the philosophy around the pitlane has changed.

"Also the start/finish is moving a little bit forward, towards Tarzan, to make sure that in front of the main grandstand you can see the whole field."

"It's a track that is going to be very unforgiving of course," he insists. "We've seen that in Baku, and we know that from Monaco, that one mistake and your race weekend can be over.

"It will be a track where it will be crucial that you don't make mistakes. It adds to the unpredictability, and that unpredictability is probably what we want at the moment."

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Published: 18/05/2019
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