When was the track built?
Like Silverstone, Zandvoort was first opened in 1948, part of the wave of post-war motorsport enthusiasm that swept across Europe. Originally made up of a mixture of permanent track and public roads that snaked through the sand dunes of the Zandvoort resort town, the Dutch Automobile Racing Club – who initiated the plans for the circuit – brought in 1927 Le Mans winner Sammy Davis to consult on the layout for the original 4.2km track.
When was its first Grand Prix?
Formula 1 arrived in the Dutch dunes in 1952, with Alberto Ascari dominating the race as he led home a 1-2-3 for Ferrari. Formula 1 would go on to race on and off at the track until 1985 – before, in 2019, the announcement came that the championship would return to Zandvoort for 2020, after a 35-year hiatus.
What’s the circuit like?
‘Really quick’, ‘pretty insane’, ‘crazy’ and ‘old-school’ were words used by the current crop of F1 drivers when asked to describe the Zandvoort track that many of them tackled in their junior category days. We’d also add ‘undulating’ to that list. The Zandvoort track swoops and flows through the sand dunes, creating a rollercoaster-like feel to the lap. And while the circuit will be modernised in time for F1’s 2020 return – including increasing the banking angle at the famous Tarzan corner to an Indianapolis Motor Speedway-trumping 18 degrees – Zandvoort will remain a proper, challenging drivers’ track.
Zandvoort combines a lot of enticing features for an F1 fan. There’s the historic track, which famously featured in John Frankenheimer’s
Grand Prix, and was the scene of many great F1 moments over the years (Gilles Villeneuve’s three-wheeled lap, anyone?). There’s the atmosphere, which with Max Verstappen on the grid is set to be electric, and most definitely orange-hued. And then there’s the beachside location, just a 30-minute train ride outside of Amsterdam. What’s not to love? Where is the best place to watch?
We recommend taking to either the first turn at Tarzan, or to one of the banked corners, either at Arie Luyendijkbocht – the final turn on the track – or Hugenholtzbocht. For F1’s 2020 return, the latter corner will be both widened and banked into a parabolic corner, to allow cars to run side by side, and at the same speed, through it. Should be exciting…