Dutch fans go wild for Formula One 09 Aug 2005
The peace of Formula One racing's traditional August break was shattered last weekend - in Rotterdam at least - with both Williams and Minardi teams participating in the Monaco ann de Maas festival in the Dutch city.
The event proved the depth of enthusiasm for motorsport, and especially Formula One racing, that still exists inside the Netherlands - with an estimated 500,000 spectators coming to watch the action as it unfolded on the temporary 3.4 km (2.1 mile) street circuit over the course of the weekend.
Demonstration runs were carried out by a wide variety of competition cars - from Le Mans competitors all the way through to historic Grand Prix cars. But Formula One was the star of the show - and with home-grown talent behind the wheel. Williams provided an FW26 which was piloted by Dutch-born Chinese driver, Ho-Pin Tung, who previously tested for the team in 2003.
Not to be outdone, Minardi brought two cars to the event - driven by two Dutch drivers. Both Christijan Albers and Robert Doornbos received standing ovations from the crowd after completing their laps of the circuit.
"What a great event and what an amazing crowd," said Albers, "It's terrific to be able to bring Formula One to the centre of a city like Rotterdam, so people can see and hear close up what the sport's all about."
"It was terrific to be able to demonstrate the Minardi Formula One car in front of so many fans," said Doornbos (who was born in Rotterdam), "they were just so enthusiastic, yelling and cheering, just like in a football stadium."
Minardi team principal Paul Stoddard thanked his team and personnel from engine-supplier Cosworth who were also on hand: "It's been an absolutely great programme, one that demonstrates the value of events that bring motorsport in general - and Formula One in particular - closer to the fans."