Explained: Dutch Grand Prix venue Zandvoort's F1 history

Jake Nichol August 30, 2021
Explained: Dutch Grand Prix venue Zandvoort's F1 history
Photo by Dean Mouhtaropoulos/Getty Images for Red Bull Racing

After being delayed a year due to the pandemic, Formula One’s Dutch Grand Prix makes a welcome return this weekend at Zandvoort. But what is the history of the venue, and when was the last F1 race there?

F1 races at Zandvoort again after 36 years

The last Dutch Grand Prix on the F1 calendar was held in 1985.

It had been a staple of the calendar, appearing in the world championship in 1952-3, ’55, and then ’58-’85 inclusive.

The 1972 race was cancelled on safety grounds after drivers refused to take part.

The final event to date in 1985 was won by McLaren’s Niki Lauda – who took his 25th and final grand prix win.

Located on the Dutch coast, Zandvoort fell off the calendar for 1986 and did not reappear until 2020.

Photo by Paul-Henri Cahier/Getty Images

However, various junior categories and touring car series have raced at Zandvoort in the intervening years.

These have included the old Euro F3 series that McLaren’s Lando Norris raced in and the German touring car series DTM.

The popularity of Red Bull driver Max Verstappen made the race a viable prospect once again.

Verstappen has completed demo runs in an older car at the circuit.

However, faced with the prospect of running the race behind closed doors due to the pandemic in 2020, orgnaisers opted to delay it by a year.

F1’s return to Zandvoort was also shunted back in the race calendar.

The 2020 race was due to be held in spring, but it is now the middle leg of the Belgium-Holland-Italy triple-header.

New layout for Zandvoort’s F1 return

Two drivers have been killed at Zandvoort.

In 1970, Frank Williams’s driver and close friend Piers Courage was killed.

Three years later, fellow Briton Roger Williamson died after not being able to get out of his burning car.

Driver David Purley tried his best to get Williamson out, but failed to do so.

During its original run as part of the world championship, Zandvoort changed very little.

Most of the lap remained the same throughout its tenure, with just a couple of chicanes thrown in to slow cars down.

Formula 1: Drive to Survive Season 3 | F1 Netflix | Official Trailer

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However, the 2021 event will not follow the old course out through the sand dunes.

That’s partly due to the land being developed during its absence.

A new infield section has been added that changes the nature of the track.

Whereas before Zandvoort was a fast blast, it is now a slower, more technical type of circuit.

There is a total of 14 corners. The race will be a 72 lap affair.

The old Turn 1, Tarzan, a 180 degree right-hander remains.

Turns 3 and 14 are both heavily banked – in the hope that this will allow cars to race closer down the following straights.

Who has most the wins at Zandvoort?

Double world champion Jim Clark holds the record for F1 wins at Zandvvort with four.

The Brit scored a hat-trick of wins between 1963-5, and added a fourth in 1967.

Sir Jackie Stewart and Lauda each have three wins apiece ahead of a clutch of drivers on two.

Alberto Ascari, Jack Brabham, James Hunt and Alain Prost all scooped two Dutch GP wins.

Ferrari are the most successful F1 team at Zandvoort, having taken nine wins – the last of which in 1983.

Next best of currently active teams is McLaren with three.

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Jake can usually be found writing about or watching anything to do with motorsport – from Formula 1 to NASCAR to British Truck Racing. His work as a motorsport journalist has been published by the likes of Autosport, Motorsport.com and Motorsport News – all highly respected names. Away from racing he is a keen amateur astronomer, podcast listener and enjoys long walks in the park with his three dogs.