While pressure was building outside, the organizers of the returning Dutch Grand Prix on Friday at Zandvoort gave a new state of affairs regarding the progress. The message: construction is on track and the new circuit will make an impression.
The word unique often falls in Zandvoort. Then it's not just about the bends, but also about the entire approach of the organization. Jan Lammers proudly explains how drivers will experience 'his' renewed circuit, certainly due to the unique bends that are under construction. They cannot be found on the other 21 Formula 1 circuits.
"I get a lot of reactions from 'the world', everyone wants to come here at the beginning of May," says the former Formula 1 driver.
"When I see such an Instagram post by Daniel Ricciardo, I think: yes, it really lives," Lammers refers to the photo of the Australian who goes down a sloping curve with his mountain bike. "Preparing for banking in Zandvoort", wrote the former teammate of Max Verstappen.
Daniel Ricciardo 'in preparation for Zandvoort'. (Photo: Instagram / danielricciardo)
"We're going to see who has the biggest balls"
Due to earlier press moments, the arrival of the cornering itself is no longer the news, but on Friday you can see for the first time exactly where the drivers are going to ride, how the turns are going and how impressive the overall picture will be.
It remains to be seen how the efficient thinking Formula 1 teams and drivers react to the sloping asphalt. Perhaps they drive through it very boring at the bottom, because that is the fastest. But when Lammer's expectations come true, spectacle seems guaranteed.
"Through both turns, two drivers must be able to sit next to each other. Then we will see who has the biggest balls," predicts Lammers, who makes a lap through the dunes by heart and lists four places where Formula 1 drivers should be able to overtake each other .
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Up and down, through blind turns and along deep gravel bins
Perhaps Lammers is already looking ahead to the 2021 season, when the cars have to be able to drive closer behind each other due to a radical change of rules. That will be a problem next season: due to the many air swirls it is difficult to follow another car, which also makes overtaking difficult. On a circuit where the question is whether the drivers can actually compete with each other, that will certainly play a role in the coming season.
But designer Jarno Zafelli has done everything to make the already sloping Zandvoort a challenge for the drivers. In a lap over the circuit the asphalt goes up and down, through blind turns and along deep gravel bins. The contrast with many of the complexes with asphalt as a billiard sheet that have come out of the ground is great.
On that kind of circuit the tire stacks are far next to the track and gravel bins are often hard to find. Errors are not punished there. At Zandvoort it is, and for that reason alone, the return provides a new jewel on the calendar, regardless of whether much can be made up or not.
The Hugenholtz curve is the first new turn that the drivers encounter. (Photo: Pro Shots)
'Everything is under control'
And the work itself? "We are now in the process of rebuilding," says director Robert van Overdijk. "In the last few months, we mainly broke down, but now the new tunnels are covered and the circuit is really starting to take shape."
On and around the track it is still a jumble of trucks, excavators and workers who work hard to be ready by the end of February. "Even if it is going to freeze and snow for a while, we still have time left, but it does not seem that we are going to get it," laughs Van Overdijk. "And for everything that we are doing now, we have a permit."
It is the image that the organization wants to radiate: everything is under control. It will be mainly up to the drivers to show whether Zandvoort really will be that 'unique' experience. "They don't yet know what to expect," Lammers thinks. "Friday morning, May 1, they are driving out of the pit lane for the first time, and then they will see it."
The renewed Arie Luyendijk-kombocht under construction. (Photo: Pro Shots)