Drivers need big balls for Zandvoort

WATCH the consumption of Heineken skyrocket next year.

That’s when the Dutch F1 Grand Prix will return to the Zandvoort after a 35-year absence from the calendar.

“We want new race venues, while also respecting the sport’s historic roots in Europe,” F1 chairman Chase Carey said this week.

“Next season we will have a brand new street race that will be held in the Vietnamese capital of Hanoi, as well as the return to Zandvoort.

“We’ve seen a resurgence of interest in F1in Holland, mainly due to the enthusiastic support for Max Verstappen, as seen from the sea of orange at so many races.”

Dutch beer giant Heineken will be the title sponsor at the seaside circuit in Holland and the hosting agreement is with a partnership of SportVibes, TIG Sports and Circuit Zandvoort.

Verstappen is third overall in the championship after finishing third in last Sunday’s Spanish Grand Prix, with plenty of supporters in attendance.

The 21-year-old has a huge following as his country’s most successful driver and F1’s youngest ever race winner.

Zandvoort hosted the Dutch Grand Prix in 1952, won by Alberto Ascari in a Ferrari, and was a round of the F1 World Championship until 1985.

“It’s just an iconic, historic track,” Verstappen said.

“I’ve raced there before with F3 and it was a lot of fun. I compare the track a little bit with Suzuka . . . It’s pretty quick and it’s always good and exciting to have new ones on the calendar.”

“It’s very cool, and with no run off, it’s quite hard to find the limit. On some other tracks it’s a bit easier but that also makes it more exciting.”

Red Bull team principal Christian Horner was also happy with the decision.

“I think a Dutch Grand Prix, with the popularity of Verstappen, is going to be immense. I think that’s positive for F1,” he said.

Australia’s Daniel Ricciardo was in two minds over F1’s Formula 1’s return to the Dutch circuit.

He described it as a “big balls” circuit but said racing was likely to be processional, with little overtaking.

Ricciardo, now with Renault, has experience of Zandvoort, where he contested the F3 Masters race in 2008 and 2009 and drove a Red Bull in demonstration runs at the circuit.

“Full honesty here, the track to drive on is pretty awesome,” he said.

“It’s high speed, it’s old school, big balls. From a driving point of view, it’s fine.

“But how fast it is and how narrow some places are, I don’t think it would be that exciting for overtaking — just my initial feeling.

“With the speeds we go now, following another car will be very difficult. That’s my reservation with it. I think it’ll be a very processional race, otherwise, the track’s cool.

“I’m a bit torn. To drive on it’d be fun but to race, with the width of the cars now, it’s probably a bit like a street circuit through some places.”

Teammate Nico Hulkenberg, who won the Masters event in 2008 and also competed at Zandvoort in A1 GP, shared Ricciardo’s concerns about overtaking.

The circuit dates back to 1939, but has changed considerably since then.

It now measures 4.3km and is known for its fast, sweeping corners such as Scheivlak as well as the “Tarzanbocht” (Tarzan corner) hairpin at the end of the main straight.

The cambered corner is the most famous, and was reportedly named after a local character called Tarzan who agreed to give up his vegetable garden in the dunes if the track’s designers named the nearby corner after him.

The race deal is the second, after Vietnam, negotiated by US-based Liberty Media since taking over the sport in 2017.

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