The Formula One Dutch Grand Prix is back next year for the first time in more than three decades, at the same track it last ran at in 1985—Circuit Zandvoort, along the Netherlands’ North Sea coast. But nice scenery and triumphant return to a historic track aside, some drivers think it’ll be rather uneventful to watch.
The actual term used was “processional,” courtesy of Renault driver Daniel Ricciardo via Motorsport.com, which works well for both race cars spread out like a broken strand of beads and for a lame sporting event in general. After all, no one goes to a sporting venue to witness a procession—there are parades and funerals for that kind of thing.
F1 said in announcing the return of the Dutch Grand Prix on Tuesday that the nearly 2.7-mile, 14-turn track would have to be brought up to modern FIA standards before the race, but didn’t say what exactly would happen aside from it “will be rebuilt.” A later post on the F1 website said there will also be focus on tweaking the track design for modern F1 cars and to “encourage overtaking”—a concern drivers have, in terms of their past experience on the track.
Motorsport.com quoted four of F1’s 20 current drivers Wednesday, all of whom have raced at Zandvoort before and most of whom weren’t totally sold on how entertaining it will be from a viewer perspective. The old-school, high-speed track is great to drive, they said, but probably won’t be so great for overtaking, which is the opposite of what F1 wants and desperately needs to improve.
Mercedes driver Valtteri Bottas, who’s currently second in the points behind teammate Lewis Hamilton, was the only one Motorsport.com didn’t quote as concerned about how entertaining the race will be from outside of the car. He said the track can be “very penalizing” for any mistakes, and that he likes the atmosphere at Zandvoort.
Everyone else’s opinions went something like this, via Motorsport.com:
“Full honesty here, the track to drive on is pretty awesome,” said [Ricciardo]. “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. [...]”
Ricciardo’s Renault teammate Nico Hulkenberg said he likes he venue, location and driving on the track, but said overtaking was “almost an impossible task” even in Formula 3. “The track layout was not the most inviting for overtaking and racing unfortunately,” Motorsport.com quoted him as saying.
Toro Rosso driver Daniil Kvyat said Zandvoort is also a favorite of his, but that he doesn’t think passing will come easily. From Motorsport.com:
“That’s what was the first thing I thought - overtaking there might be a problem, because [it has] a lot of awesome high-speed corners, but with modern cars it is obviously hard to follow,” Kvyat said.
“The track is awesome to drive, honestly. Like in F3 it was my favourite track, but yeah, that’s the question mark about it.”
At least there’s a beach nearby if it becomes too much of a bore, right?