No risk of Indy 2005 repeat, Dutch GP chiefs assure

Bosses at the Zandvoort circuit have assured that there will be no repeat of the disastrous 2005 US GP when the Dutch GP returns to F1 next year.

In 2020 the Dutch GP will return to the F1 calendar and it will be held at a reprofiled Zandvoort circuit.

And arguably the biggest talk point regarding the circuit’s facelift is the new banked final corner which will be steeper than that of the Indianapolis circuit which formerly hosted F1’s United States Grand Prix.

F1 fans still shiver at the suggestion of the 2005 event where all the Michelin runners retired from the race after the formation lap with the tyre supplier unable to guarantee that their tyres could cope with the banked corner, leaving just the six Bridgestone drivers to race.

But, Dutch Grand Prix sporting director Jans Lammers has batted away fears of a repeat.

“I don’t expect any issues with the tyres,” Lammers told GPToday. “There are two reasons for that.

“First of all, the corner in Indianapolis is way longer than this one. So the overall tyre load was much heavier there.

“Second, the corners in Indianapolis have some kind of linear banking. Over here we have a progressive banking, almost comparable to a bobsleigh track.

“We talked to Pirelli as well basically from the first moment we thought of creating a banked corner in Zandvoort. We speak to them on a daily basis and share all the updates and information we have.”

Lammers pointed out that by working banked corners into the Zandvoort circuit they are doing something truly unique and reintroducing the concept into F1.

“No modern circuit has a banked corner integrated into the actual design of the track,” he said.

“So May 2020 will not only be a comeback of the Dutch Grand Prix, but also a comeback of the banked corner in F1.

“That makes it even more special. All F1 drivers are familiar with normal circuits, but not with a track including some banked corners. So they have to adapt to that, that will be very interesting to see.”

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Pirelli hope to avoid US-05 style tyre woes at Zandvoort

It has been confirmed that Zandvoort, home of the Dutch GP from 2020, will have two banked corners, and that creates a challenge for Pirelli.

Zandvoort has confirmed that the banking at the final turn will be angled at 32% – the equivalent of 18 degrees. This is twice as steep as the Indianapolis track which hosted the United States Grand Prix from 2000-07 where the banking was around 9 degrees.

The track’s signature Hugenholtz corner will also be banked to allow cars to race side-by side.

This news may bring back memories for some of the infamous 2005 United States GP at Indianapolis where a series of tyre failures in practice caused all the Michelin runners to withdraw from the race after the warm-up lap, leaving just six Bridgestone runners to take part.

And what’s more concerning is that Pirelli have confirmed there is little they can do to ready the construction of the tyres for the more extreme banked corners at Zandvoort.

“The only thing we can do is to react with the pressure, and we will have to increase the starting pressure,” Pirelli head of car racing Mario Isola told Motorsport.com.

“If you look at the regulation we are obliged to stay on the same construction and same specification for the whole year, so we cannot design a tyre for the banking and we cannot design a specific construction, for Zandvoort.

“So the only possibility is to try to manage the prescriptions in terms of camber and pressure.”

Isola did confirm that Pirelli have been given data regarding the increased pressure which the banked corners will put on their tyres, and simulations to find a way to work with it have begun.

“We have also made a simulation of the track being completely flat and with the camber, so you can see the difference in terms of additional load on the tyre. That was what we had in mind to calculate.

“But now to make a proper investigation, we need to receive the simulation from the teams and then we are in a position to define the pressure.”

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Zandvoort to add American oval-style last corner

As part of the plans to bring Zandvoort circuit up to scratch for the Dutch GP next year, the banking at its final corner will be made twice as steep as Indianapolis.

Zandvoort has confirmed that the banking at the final turn will be angled at 32% – the equivalent of 18 degrees. This is twice as steep as the Indianapolis track which hosted the United States Grand Prix from 2000-07 where the banking was around 9 degrees.

Romain Grosjean spoke earlier this year when his F1 future was in doubt about his fear of racing on ovals, citing it as a reason why he would be reluctant to race on such circuits in IndyCar, so this news may not go down well with him.

But, Zandvoort CEO Robert van Overdijk believes the banked final turn will prove to be the “most spectacular part” of the revamped circuit.

Speaking to Dutch radio station BNR Niewsradio, he said: “That corner will for sure be the most spectacular part of our renewed circuit.

“The corner will be banked 32%. So the difference in height from the bottom of the corner to the top will be around four and a half metres. That’s considerable.

“We are in fact making an American corner on an otherwise European circuit. That is absolutely unique.”

Zandvoort’s signature Hugenholtz corner will also be given a facelift to allow cars to race side-by side.

“The third corner [Hugenholtz] of the track will be banked as well for the F1 race,” said van Overdijk.

“It will be made parabolic, so that two cars can get through the corner next to each other and more importantly at the same speed.

“The banking will vary between 8% and 18% for that purpose.”

Changing the circuit too much from its original design does risk upsetting some in the motorsport community accepts van Overdijk, but he thinks the argument of “everything used to be better in the good old days” isn’t true and that the circuit must adapt.

“Of course Zandvoort has a big name historically,” he said.

“But if you want to keep the track exactly as it was, you really start from the idea that everything used to be better in the good old days.

“And of course that is not the truth. So I am not worried about that.”

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