Brazilian Formula One driver Ayrton Senna concentrates aboard the Lotus 97T on August 23, 1985 during the Dutch Grand Prix held at Circuit Zandvoort.
Paris (AFP) - The Dutch Grand Prix will return next season at Zandvoort after a 35-year absence, Formula One organisers announced on Tuesday.
A deal to stage the race at the historic seaside resort circuit near Amsterdam has been signed for at least three years.
“I am pleased to see that Zandvoort will be part of the proposed calendar… and thankful for the hard work of Formula 1 to bring the sport back to the Netherlands”, Jean Todt, president of the sport’s ruling body the FIA, said.
Red Bull’s Dutch driver Max Verstappen, born 12 years after Niki Lauda took the last chequered flag in a McLaren in 1985, hailed the prospect of lining up in his home race.
“It’s just an iconic, historic track,” Verstappen said in a team statement.
Formula One chief executive Chase Carey said the return of racing to the Netherlands was in line with their twin policy of “respecting the sport’s historic roots in Europe” whilst also looking for new venues.
“Next season therefore, we will have a brand new street race that will be held in the Vietnamese capital of Hanoi, as well the return to Zandvoort, after an absence of 35 years,” Casey said.
“In recent years, we’ve seen a resurgence of interest in Formula 1 in Holland, mainly due to the enthusiastic support for the talented Max Verstappen, as seen from the sea of orange at so many races.”
Zandvoort will now be modernised to bring it up to the F1 world championship standards.
If none of the existing venues drop out the addition of Hanoi and Zandvoort would mean a record 23-race season in 2020.
But five races in Britain, Germany, Italy, Mexico and Spain are out of contract next year, with reports that two or even three of these group could be ditched.
A deal to continue the Italian Grand Prix at Monza until 2024 is waiting to be signed, and Silverstone say they are close to securing a new contract.
Verstappen’s emergence as one of F1’s brightest stars has led to his orange-clad Dutch fans becoming a colourful feature of race weekends.
“We saw it here in Spain with (Fernando) Alonso when he was at his peak, we see the amount of Dutch fans around the world, it just seems to be growing and growing,” Verstappen’s Red Bull boss Christian Horner said at the Spanish Grand Prix last weekend.
“I think a Dutch Grand Prix, with the popularity of Verstappen, is going to be immense. I think that’s positive for Formula 1,” he added.
Verstappen, who holds the unofficial track record at Zandvoort when he sliced three seconds off the former fastest lap at an F1 trial, knows the circuit well from his F3 days.
“I compare the track a little bit with Suzuka because it’s designed by the same person,” the he said.
“I’ve done a few laps and donuts in an F1 car there too and the track was actually pretty challenging because you have a few banked corners, some places are very narrow and there’s no run off.”