Images of Zandvoort’s newly-completed banked corners have been released ahead of the Dutch Grand Prix’s return to the historic track on May 3 this year.
The distinctive new feature will prove a challenge for the drivers and for the teams, with the banking set at double the angle of that of former United States Grand Prix venue Indianapolis.
Turns 3 and 14 – named after former circuit director John Hugenholtz and two-time Indianapolis 500 winner Arie Luyendyk respectively – will have corners banked at around 19 degrees, whereas the Indianapolis Motor Speedway has nine-degree turns.
It was the late FIA Race Director Charlie Whiting’s idea to install the banks at Zandvoort, and as these images show, they will look all the more spectacular when F1 cars are thundering around them at the Dutch Grand Prix in May.
The firm in charge of designing the track, Italian company Dromo Circuit Design, wanted to emulate Eau Rouge and Raidillon at Spa-Francorchamps, and the fast-paced sweep of Maggots and Becketts at Silverstone.
“We did something that we thought would be really formidable to drive, that has no equal at any other racetracks,” said Dromo’s founder Jarno Zaffelli.
“Turn 14 is quite ample and wide, making it full throttle, whereas the transition between Turn 2 and Turn 3 has a lot of elevation and banking changes. All of your horizon is tilting, all of your perception is evolving, you feel like you are being squeezed.
“It’s like being in a corkscrew, depending on the line that you are following.”
Drivers are expected to reach Turn 2 at around 265km/h and brake hard into the banked Turn 3 before a tight and technical section.
Zaffelli continued: “The challenge will be really huge because [F1] cars are not designed to sustain such a banking like that, so the teams will have to think about it, not only from the tyre suspension but also suspension.
“The handling, going into Turn 2 and Turn 3, and then out of Turn 4 will require a set-up that will be a compromise because if you want to go fast there you will have to go slow in another section.”
A special mix of Tarmac nicknamed ‘Flying Dutch’ after Red Bull star Max Verstappen has been laid on the tilted surface while debris fences have been installed perpendicular to the track, along with SAFER barriers to absorb potential impacts on the banked turns.
All this should add up to make F1’s first Dutch Grand Prix since 1985 an unforgettable round of the championship. And it looks like a sell-out crowd is expected – many of them likely donned in orange – with just a few tickets remaining.