The second triple-header of the Formula 1 World Championship now heads 300 kilometres north from Spa-Francorchamps to the Zandvoort circuit on the shores of the North Sea in the Netherlands. It returns to the calendar 36 years on from its last visit back in 1985. Despite this long gap, almost all the current drivers have raced here in junior formulae.
The circuit measures 4.259 kilometres and the fact that it is almost on the beach brings with it the difficulty of wind generally blowing quite a bit of sand across its surface. The track climbs and drops significantly and several sections are crowd favourites. Definitely worth a mention is Tarzan corner, or Tarzanbocht in the local language, a sharp right hairpin at the end of the start-finish straight, which is slightly banked. It is famous for an amazing overtaking move when Gilles Villeneuve went round the outside of Alan Jones in the 1979 race. Other classic turns include the Rob Slotemakerbocht and the fast and blind right-hander, Scheivlak.
For its return to the calendar, the circuit has been modified and made more spectacular at a couple of points in particular: turn 3 and the last one, turn 14, now boast a 19 degree banking, which should allow the drivers to go through them at much higher speeds. The narrowness of the track and its twisty nature means that overtaking is far from easy and a medium to high downforce set up is required. Qualifying will be very important. For Zandvoort’s return to the calendar a special high grip surface has been produced by Shell, an Innovation Partner of Scuderia Ferrari. Its excellent characteristics have led to it instantly being referred to as “Flying Dutchman”, a nickname applied to every particularly brilliant driver from these parts. There are two DRS zones, between turns 10 and 11 and on the main straight.
The cars take to the track at 11.30 local time for the first hour of free practice, with the second one taking place at 15.00. On Saturday, the final free practice session start at noon, with qualifying getting underway at 15.00. The 31st Dutch Grand Prix to count towards the Formula 1 World Championship will start on Sunday at the same time.
Ferrari at the Dutch GP
GP entered 29
Debut 1952 (A. Ascari 1st; G. Farina 2nd; L. Villoresi 3rd; C. De Tornaco ret.)
Wins 8 (27.59%)
Pole positions 7 (24.14%)
Fastest laps 10 (34.48%)
Total podiums 24 (27,59%)
Dutch Grand Prix: facts & figures
2. The number of circuits in the Netherlands: Zandvoort and Assen. Zandvoort is used predominantly for car racing and for many years was the venue for the F3 Masters, one of the most important races in the category, on a par with the Monaco Grand Prix and second only in terms of prestige to the Macau Grand Prix. Meanwhile, Assen is an iconic motorcycle racing venue, which has hosted the Dutch TT, a round of the Motorcycle World Championship, since 1949.
10. The lowest place on the grid from which the Dutch GP has been won. Two drivers have done this. The first was Rene Arnoux, who won the 1983 edition in the number 28 Ferrari 126 C3. It was the Frenchman’s seventh and final Formula 1 win, his third with the Scuderia. Two years later, Niki Lauda went from tenth to first in a McLaren. For the Austrian too, it was to be the last victory of his amazing career, his 25th win. The longest climb up the order to finish on the podium falls to Jean-Pierre Beltoise, who finished second in a Matra in 1968, behind team-mate Jackie Stewart, having started 16th.
18 & 19. The gradient of the banking at turns 3 and 14 at Zandvoort. By a long way, these two parabolic turns are the steepest on the F1 calendar. As a comparison, the famous Monza Parabolica, which is to be named in honour of Michele Alboreto as from the Italian Grand Prix weekend, is banked to just four degrees.
26. The percentage of the Netherlands’ surface area that is below sea level. A network of dunes and dams along the coast and the banks of major rivers ensures these areas do not flood, with several pumping stations on hand to deal with excessive rain.
1500. The number of bridges in Amsterdam, the Dutch capital. The city is laid out over a network of more than 90 small islands linked by a canal system that is over a hundred kilometres in length.
This week in Ferrari history
1/9. In 1994 Carlos Sainz, one of the current Scuderia Ferrari driver pairing, was born in Madrid. The Spaniard joined the team this year having started 118 Grands Prix for three other teams, Scuderia Toro Rosso, Renault and McLaren. He has four F1 podiums to his name, two with McLaren and two with the Scuderia, the latter being a second place at Monaco and a third in Hungary this season on the SF21. Happy Birthday Carlos!
2/9. In 2001 Scuderia Ferrari won the Belgian Grand Prix courtesy of Michael Schumacher in an F2001. Behind the German a hard fought race took place and that included a terrifying crash for former Scuderia test driver Luciano Burti, at the time at the wheel of a Prost, following a coming-together with Eddie Irvine. It was the Brazilian’s last Formula 1 race before he went on to have a long career in touring cars in his homeland. For Schumacher it was win number 52, which meant he beat the then record set by Alain Prost back in 1993 to become the most successful driver in the history of the sport. It was the Scuderia’s 143rd win.
3/9. In 1960, Scuderia Ferrari made a clean sweep of the podium places at Monza in the Italian Grand Prix. With the championship title decided and worried about reliability of their extremely lightweight cars on the high speed oval at the Monza track, the British teams did not take part in the event. It meant that for only the second and last time, just like the very first world championship Grand Prix, held back in 1950, none of those who lined up at the start had ever won a race. The Americans Phil Hill and Dan Gurney were first and second, with Belgium’s Willy Mairesse coming home third. They were all behind the wheel of a 246 F1, the last front-engined Ferrari Formula 1 car.
4/9. In 2019, Ferrari celebrated the 90th anniversary of the founding of the Scuderia and the 90th running of the Italian Grand Prix in Milan’s Piazza Duomo, which was packed with fans. A procession of drivers from every era came up on stage, from veterans to the youngsters from the Ferrari Driver Academy. The crowd went wild when the driver line-up at the time, Charles Leclerc and Sebastian Vettel, along with Team Principal Mattia Binotto came on stage. The weekend ended in perfect fashion as Charles Leclerc led from lights out to chequered flag on Sunday to take his second Formula 1 win with the SF90.
5/9. Gian Claudio Giuseppe, known to everyone as “Clay” Regazzoni, was born in Lugano in 1939. He was the most successful Swiss Formula 1 driver, taking part in 132 races, 73 of them with Scuderia Ferrari, for whom he won four times: Italy 1970, Germany 1974, Italy 1975 and USA East 1976. His best season was 1974, when he finished second in the Championship behind Brazil’s Emerson Fittipaldi. Clay lost his life in a road car accident on 15 December 2006 on the A1 autostrada, near Parma.