The Legends where invited by Circuit Zandvoort at the media update day, showing the progress that’s being made by all parties involved to make sure the track is ready for action next year.
Winter is coming and most motorsport activities, like Formula 1, come to an end in this period. At the track of Zandvoort there are a lot of things going on though. On May 3rd 2020 the Dutch Grand Prix will return to the unique track that is carved into the dunes, after being absent since the last race in 1985, that was won by Niki Lauda. A lot of work has to be done before the track can measure up to modern Formula One standards. According to Director Robert van Overdijk, this will be no ordinary F1 race, he calls it the ‘Ultimate Race Festival’.
Since the first visit to track by Formula One Management in 2017, followed up by a visit of the late Charlie Whiting in 2018 who said the track has a good shape and would be a perfect fit for F1, a lot has changed. From lawsuits about the impact on the surrounding nature, till the mobility plan and concerns about the Pirelli tires in banked corners. It seems the organizers of the Dutch GP have thought about every aspect in advance in supreme detail, hence the preparations already starting 5(!) years ago. And they made this business case work without any direct government funding.
The constructor and official event partner of the Formula 1 Heineken Dutch Grand Prix, Volker Wessels, has shipped a lot of their tools and manpower to the track at the start of November. Every inch of the racetrack is being worked on at once to make sure the work is proceeding according to plan. Tunnels will be placed at the end of the main straight and underneath the Arie Luyendyk corner, which itself will become a progressively 32% banked corner, which is unique for Formula 1 nowadays. This means the corner will be less banked at the bottom and becomes steeper as you go higher, also providing different driving lines for race cars. The Hugenholtz corner is already a banked corner but will also get 32% banking and get more of a parabolic shape, which will provide 5 to 6 different racing lines in this bend alone.
The idea to change the Arie Luyendijk corner actually came from Niek Oude Luttikhuis, track manager of Circuit Zandvoort. Niek told us: “We were discussing to change the Kuhmo corner or to extend the main straight, but it didn’t feel right. So one day I was showering and came up with the idea to make the last corner a banked corner. It would solve a lot of issues we had. I suggested it to Dromo and FOM, they tested it in their advanced software and told me that it should be possible.” A banked corner that’s called the ‘Arie Luyendijk corner’ after the Dutch Indy 500 winner, that can’t be coincidence. “Though it really is “ Niek tells us. “We only found this out a few days later.”
“Charlie Whiting was the one suggesting to place the wall directly next to the track.”
– Erik Weijers, Chief Sporting Officer
With the close collaboration between the Italian design bureau ‘Studio Dromo’ and Circuit Zandvoort the goal is to hold on to the special character of Zandvoort. “We maintained most characteristics of the track and where possible even improved certain aspects, like the banked corners mentioned earlier.”
About the possible concerns Jarno Zafelli, Owner of Studio Dromo, said: “We are constantly talking with all parties involved to make sure we have the best outcome possible. We are not afraid we will get a recurrence of the Indianapolis issues back in 2005, because the turn is much much smaller and the speeds will be way lower than in Indianapolis.”
“This racetrack is unique, carved into the dunes, historically build and challenging. This project really pushes the boundaries of FIA guidelines.”
– Jarno Zafelli, Director of Studio Dromo
Not only the two corners with banking will be upgraded, the famous Tarzan corner will become wider, as will the Gerlach corner. The Dutch equivalent of ‘Eau Rouge, called the ‘Scheivlak’, will still be surrounded by gravel. If you make a mistake there, you’re lost.
Besides the different conditions, the track will also use a special mix of tarmac called the ‘FlyingDutch™’. This special tarmac layer is designed by Dromo in close collaboration with Circuit Zandvoort, the contractor Volker Wessels, FIA, F1 and of course Pirelli.
“With all these changes, Circuit Zandvoort will become the most challenging track in Europe and maybe even in the World.”
– Jan Lammers, Sportive Director
Robert van Overdijk, Director of Circuit Zandvoort and the Formula 1 Heineken Dutch Grand Prix is convinced that the job will be finished well on time. “The official request for the event license has been submitted to the Municipality of Zandvoort, 5 months before the event, which is in time for all parties to thoroughly review the request before approval.”
To make sure everyone reaches the event safely and in time, Rob Langenberg who is Head of Operations of the Formula 1 Heineken Dutch Grand Prix, gave a brief update on the mobility plan. Though the organizer presents going by bike as the best option to travel, in this plan the spreading of the several visitor flows is crucial. “We don’t have place for 120.000 bikes, only for 40.000. So we want people to travel both by bike, car and train. In which the train is the key to success to make it a smooth operation (pun intended).
Zandvoort will be closed for all car and motorbike traffic, only citizens of Zandvoort can reach their homes. Cars will be parked outside of the track and visitors will be transported to the track with busses. No one will be able to get closer than 1,5 km to the track, meaning this last distance has to be done by foot (if possible of course).
The work on the track is expected to be finished in February 2020, after which they will continue with the construction of the structure and surrounding facilities. In April the buildup of the event will start, which takes about 4 to 5 weeks.
We are curious and will update you about any updates as soon as we can!