2020 Dutch Grand Prix: Zandvoort track preview
Zandvoort, Netherlands is back on the F1 calendar in 2020. (Photo by Robin Utrecht, NurPhoto via Getty Images)

As of 2020 there will be a new entrant in the European rounds of the Formula One series in the form of the returning Zandvoort circuit.

Based in the province of North Holland, around 30-kilometres from the Dutch capital Amsterdam, Zandvoort is one of the biggest seaside towns in the country, with former F1 driver Jan Lammers heralding from the area.

The race is scheduled to be held on the weekend of the 8-10 of May, with the grandstands set to be rammed full since the rise of Red Bull star Max Verstappen has created a new found love for Formula One for Dutch fans.

F1 Pedigree

The last time that the track hosted Formula One action was in 1985, seeing the 25th and final race victory for Niki Lauda in the McLaren-TAG car. The race ended in a one-two for the McLaren team with Alain Prost finishing just behind his Austrian counterpart.

Taking the third spot was a certain Ayrton Senna in the Lotus. Of the 27 cars that started the race however, only 10 finished, with the likes of Keke Rosberg and Stefan Johansson falling victim to reliability issues, along with 15 other cars.

Since 1985 the track has featured many forms of motorsport, ranging from the German Touring Car series, to the A1 Race series. Currently, the beach side track hosts rounds in the Blancpain Endurance Series and the DNRT Endurance series.

However, there is one event that all the Verstappen fans look forward to and that is the 'Jumbo Race Dagen'.

Translated to 'Jumbo Race Day' it is an event hosted by Verstappen, offering demonstrations from himself alongside some of the best talent the Netherlands have to offer in the form of Nick Catsburg, Tom Coronel and Niels Langeveld.

Track Analysis

The track itself is 2.676 miles long with an elevation change of 7.6 metres and comprised of 14 corners. The main straight leads into a right hairpin turn called ‘Tarzan’ which follows onto an array of sweeping corners which the track is renowned for. Tarzan is the most iconic corner on the track. The banked aspect to the hairpin will mean a higher speed is needed to maintain the racing line through the corner. The next direct corner is a sharp left which could result in some fantastic moves around the outside.

From there the track takes a small left kink into a bigger right hand kink leading to a secondary hairpin, ‘Hugenholtzbocht’. Exiting the hairpin turns five and six come quickly and soon enough the drivers will find themselves entering turn seven which mimics a similar line to turn five.

Turn seven prepares the driver for turn eight, which is a long right hander following onto a small straight ended by an abrupt right turn named ‘Masters Corner’. Upon the exit of ‘Masters Corner’, a straight connects it to the ‘Naamloze Corner’ which brings the track inwards and downwards via the third hairpin on the track ‘Corner Zonder Naam’.

Following this theme of hairpins and straights, the track is continues downwards towards another abrupt right hander and then a sharp left called, ‘Hans Ernst Corner’.

‘Kumho Corner’ and ‘Arie Luyendyk’ follow onto the large back straight, bringing the drivers back around to start a new lap.

What to expect

In terms of which track it is most likened to on the current F1 calendar, it shares many similarities to Hungary. The combination of short acceleration zones followed by sweeping corners. This combined with the lack of runoff areas means that any mistake stands a higher chance of being punished.

The race lap record is currently held by Alain Prost, achieved in the McLaren during the last Grand Prix in 1985 and stands at 1.16.538s. Without a doubt this record will be broken when the new breed of F1 cars come to town, but the more intriguing question is who will break it?

Based off of this season's cars, a safe bet for victory would be Red Bull or Mercedes. Red Bull have one of the best downforce packages in Formula One, allowing them to perform well at the more technical circuits like Monaco. Whereas, Mercedes have the best all round car that seems to be able to handle itself well on almost any track.

There is still some way to go before the track is ready to welcome back the droves of fans, with updates being funded to make sure that the circuit is suitable to host all 105,000 spectators expected to sell-out the weekend.