The Dutch Grand Prix at Zandvoort this weekend promises to deliver a fast race on a unique track where organisers hope their innovations will make up for a possible lack of overtaking action.
“This is a very fast track, the average speed will be very high,” former Formula One driver and Zandvoort native Jan Lammers told Reuters on the eve of the event.
“The newly introduced banked curves especially make it truly unique. There is no other circuit like it in Formula One.”
Race organisers spent about 15 million euros ($18 million) on overhauling the picturesque circuit in the dunes 25 km (15 miles) west of Amsterdam, which for decades was a fixture of F1 but had been shunned as outdated since the mid-1980s.
The most striking new elements in the 4.259 km circuit are two steep banked curves, one of which leads to the finish straight and is specifically designed to allow drivers to hit top speed sooner before they reach the line.
Many drivers are looking forward to hitting the curves but expressed doubts about the possibilities to overtake on the old-school track, which leaves little room for error.
“It will be hard to overtake,” Lammers said. “But it won’t be impossible and Monaco has shown that a race can also be exciting without many possibilities to overtake.”
The prospect of limited passing opportunities will increase the pressure on Saturday’s qualification and poses a challenge for mechanics who will have to balance the effects of the banked curves and the fact no driver has yet raced the new track.
“It will require extra skills in the set-up of the car,” Lammers said.
“It’s always a compromise between going for the fastest lap and focusing on the length of the race. In the end, most teams will likely go for the fast lap and it will be interesting to see who will find the best solution.”