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Catching up with Formula One: Netherlands

Written by Sofia Costantino, Edited by Vyas Ponnuri

Are you ready to dive into the high-speed world of Formula One? Whether you're a seasoned fan, or a newcomer to the sport, there's never been a better time to catch up with everything happening on track this year.

This article has got you covered, from the latest race results and driver standings, to the biggest shocks and controversies. So buckle up, and get ready to experience the thrill of the race like never before!

Welcome back! After a long and well deserved break, the holidays are finally over, and the members of the Formula One circus pick up their beach gear to travel to the not-so-warm North Sea, to start the second part of the campaign with the Grote Prijs van Nederland, at the traditional Zandvoort circuit, located just 40 kilometres from Amsterdam.

Zandvoort used to be a regular feature on the calendar in the 50s and 60s; Credit - Motorsport Images

The 4.259-kilometre track, one of the shortest on the F1 calendar, was inaugurated in 1948, and was part of the official races in the pinnacle of motorsport, from 1952 to 1985. It remained active for longer, hosting the renowned F3 Masters race (championship winners from various countries). The track returned, in a remodelled guise in 2021, thanks to the popularity generated by Max Verstappen.

Due to the impossibility of lengthening the track due to environmental factors, and the short 700-metre main straight, a new solution was devised for F1 with banked curves, a la IndyCar ovals. Turn 14, the last slingshot onto the main straight, is named after Arie Luyendyk, two-time Indianapolis 500 winner, and is banked a staggering 18 degrees, or 32% incline, and serves to activate the DRS before the home straight, and make better use of the following short straight. Another interesting curve with a pronounced cant is turn three, Hugenholtz, that allows two cars to leave together at similar speed.

In its cherished history, many anecdotal races and famous battles have been staged on the track designed by John Hugenholtz (the same designer of the famous Suzuka circuit in Japan) that winds through the dunes surrounding the North Holland beach.

Great champions have deciphered the difficult and dusty plot to gain victory. Among others, winners during the 50s include some decorated names, such as Alberto Ascari and Juan Manuel Fangio. Jack Brabham, Graham Hill, Jackie Stewart, and Jim Clark won in the sixties, Clark being the only one with three consecutive wins, from 1963 to 1965. The next decade witnessed the likes of Niki Lauda, James Hunt, Mario Andretti, and Alan Jones triumphing at the winding circuit. During the eighties, Nelson Piquet and Alain Prost won races, Niki Lauda took his 25th and final win in Formula One here at Zandvoort, back in 1985.

Lauda took his final Formula One victory at Zandvoort in 1985; Credit - Motorsport Images

In the 1960s, the race took place several times on Pentecost Monday or Whit Monday, and it was in 1961 when all the participating entries managed to finish the race, without any stop. A real feat for the races of the time, an era dogged by regularity of mechanical failures of various kinds, and accidents. However, this 2023 season already has two races with the 20 cars to the end: Miami and Barcelona.

In 1966, three drivers raced in their own cars: Jack Brabham, Bruce McLaren, and Dan Gurney. In 1967, the Lotus 49 debuted, equipped with a famous and durable 3-litre Ford Cosworth DFV v8 engine, while McLaren introduced the MP4/1E, with state-of-the-art carbon fibre manufacturing back then, a first of its kind.

One of F1's most spectacular races was seen on this track in 1976, with James Hunt at McLaren (who would be the season's champion) battling from start to finish against John Watson (Penske), Mario Andretti (Lotus), and Clay Regazzoni (Ferrari).

Since its return to Formula One in 2021, the Dutch GP has been dominated by local hero Max Verstappen (two poles and two wins) and it is very feasible, possible and probable that he will do so again, for his ninth consecutive win. Thanks to its presence and success, the event has become a true music and entertainment festival, with 11 artists set to perform in 2023, including renowned DJs, and the famous Andre Rieu “the King of the Waltz”, who will perform the national anthem with his choir minutes before the start of the race.

Max Verstappen will once again be the form driver, heading into the weekend; Image credit - Motorsport Images

For the rest of the competitors, it is a tight affair. Behind the current championship leader, the bull Max Verstappen, the rest of the pack are closely matched, and the results vary from event to event, depending on the configuration of the single-seaters, more than the skills of the drivers themselves. For second place, Sergio Pérez of Red Bull, both Mercedes, both Ferraris, Alonso in the Aston Martin and the McLaren duo will be fighting. The latter again would be a great bet, thanks to their recent results, and the added motivation of the 60th anniversary of the founding of the team, by the namesake New Zealand racer on 2nd September, 1963.


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