Less than two months to go until the Formula 1 circus heads to Zandvoort, after 35 years of absence. We’ve shown you the intense transition the track has gone through in previous articles and galleries, and now the time was here to re-open the track. Though a lot of work is still in progress, such as the expansion of the pitboxes and the installation of extra fencing, but the track itself is ready for action.
The grand opening of the new Zandvoort track was obviously a job for no one other than Max Verstappen in his Red Bull F1 car. The event wasn’t open for public, but the media was invited and a nice gesture of the track owners was that they invited the construction workers to take the afternoon off to watch the track action. This was the first time a Formula 1 car drove on the renewed Zandvoort track and Max was very excited about the changes made to the track: “”I liked it very much to drive on the new track, especially turn 3 (Hugenholtz corner) and the last turn, the Arie Luyendyk corner. Yes, that banking feels very special. And there are many different lines that you can drive in in these corners. It’s just magnificent.”
“It makes me feel proud to get to drive here”
Max Verstappen – F1 driver Red Bull Racing
After Max Verstappen, his father Jos Verstappen and name giver of the last corner Arie Luyendyk also got to drive on the track in two Aston Martin DBS Superleggera.”It is very special to drive on my own corner and I’m very pleased that the owners decided to hold on to my name for the last corner. They could’ve easily change it to please a big sponsor like ‘The Heineken Corner’ for instance, but they didn’t and I thank them for that.” Arie Luyendyk tells, and he continues: “ At the end of ‘my’ corner I was already driving 200 kph moving towards the barrier, but leaving just enough space not to touch the wall, what a great feeling that was, but this is only in a street legal supercar. Imagine at what speeds Formula 1 cars will be driving through this corner with their DRS open.”
“I’m very proud that Circuit Zandvoort decided to hold on to my name for the last corner”
Arie Luyendyk – Former IndyCar driver
We also did a lap on the renewed track of Circuit Zandvoort ourselves, to check on the changes that were needed to accommodate Formula 1 in May. Perry was so nice to take us with him in his circuit preparated car.
We will take you with us on a one lap trip around the track, so you can try to imagine what it’s like when there are 20 Formula 1 cars chasing each other.
Coming from start-finish, which is placed a bit in the direction of the Tarzan corner in front of the main grandstand, you are heading for the Tarzan corner at full speed. Most cars turn a bit to the left while braking, before turning the wheel to the right to steer into the corner. With F1 cars, DRS will automatically close before braking extremely hard to make this corner. The corner changed a bit with the pit exit now located at the exit of the turn (before the renovation the pit exit was located before the Tarzan corner) and a runoff area to make sure not every mistake is penalized by ending up in the gravel. Though some diehard fans don’t like the added run-offs, this is what needed to be done to comply with modern Formula 1 and FIA grade 1 standards.
Rumour has it that the corner was named after a farmer who ran a potato field at the place where the corner is located now. Because of his posture and long hair, he was called ‘Tarzan’. When his potato field needed to make way for the race track, they named the corner after this guy.
Coming out ot the Tarzan corner, taking into account the cars that are leaving the pit, and accelerating towards the Gerlach corner, there is a bit of a twist in the track to the left at which you brake a bit to make the Gerlach corner. You turn right into the Gerlach corner and are immediately anticipating the next corner, the changed Hugenholtz corner.
The Hugenholtz corner was changed during renovation, the shape is more or less the same, but the corner got more of a parabolic shape including a progressive banking. It is like diving into the deep unknown really, as it really is a pit where you dive in and hope to come out on the other side. Multiple driving lines should be possible here, but overtaking would still be very difficult. Coming out of the Hugenholtz corner, you are heading towards the Hunserug.
Hunserug, Rob Slotemaker corner and turn 7
This part is more of a uphill drive slightly turning to the right and then the Rob Slotemaker corner turning to the left. After the Rob Slotemaker corner, drivers will dive down deep into turn 7 on their way to the Scheivlak which is feared by many.
After the Final 4 race, the first real race after the opening, one of the contestants crashed pretty hard, see the video below. It seemed this wasn’t due to any recent changes to the track, but the higher exit speed from the Hugenholtz corner onto the Hunserug could have made the crash more severe. The driver was ok, but the car was totally wrecked. Before the Formula 1 will race at the track, a higher fence will be installed to comply to FIA standards.
This is practically a blind hard right corner, because of the descent in height, the cars are entering this corner at very high speeds. A mistake is directly punished by a drive through the deep gravel pit which is still intact. In this corner you can still maintain high speeds, especially in a Formula 1 car. After the Scheivlak, there is a short straight on which the cars will take the speed they had in the corner with them.
A tap on the brakes and a sharp right steering move should be enough to hit the apex at the Marlboro corner, where you accelerate a bit again and prepare for the Renault corner.
Renault & Vodafone corner
Here you brake really hard, in order to make this sharp right hander, heading to the Vodafone corner in which you can strategically let the car role a bit, before stepping on the gas full throttle to be first to enter the Audi S corner.
Audi S corner
This is a very tight right-left chicane combination, it will be very tight for modern Formula 1 cars as they are quite long and wide. We will see some front wings perish in this section.
Coming out of the Audi S corner the cars will build up speed towards the Kumho corner. You might need to lift here with a normal car, but Formula 1 cars can make this turn without lifting.
Arie Luyendijk corner
Than the most spectacular corner and a first in Formula 1, a 32% banked corner. The cars will exit Kumho with the pedal down all the way and can open their DRS at the beginning of the Arie Luyendijk corner, at least that is what the expectation is. We will have to see how this evolves over the weekend. The wall is directly next to the track, Indy-/Nascar style, so we expect to see some hard encounters with this new ‘wall of champions’. The cars will come out of this corner with very high speeds if they manage to open their DRS before the corner, reaching top speeds on the main straight of presumably 335 kph and enabling overtaking on the main straight!
We will have to wait just a bit till we can see the first F1 cars on track. The first Free practice is planned for May 1th, just less than 2 months from now.