“I think probably just some of the other characteristics of the track of being quite fast, doesn’t lend itself to too much overtaking, but the characteristic of the banking, maybe on other circuits could really help.”
One aspect of the circuit that drivers loved was the lack of margin for error. There was no talk of track limits in Zandvoort, simply because of the absence of acres of asphalt run-off. If you put a wheel off you were on dirt or gravel, and either heading off the road or at the very least, losing time.
Carlos Sainz, who had a big crash in FP3 when he got the entry to Turn Three wrong, summed it up well.
“In terms of challenges, away from Monaco and Baku, I think this is biggest challenge of the season for the driver,” he said. “I loved it. Even with the accident I felt like I deserved to crash for being 20cm off line, because this is how a circuit should be.
“And the prices that we all paid when we were doing mistakes out there is how F1 should be, and how we want the circuits of the future to be — not in the direction that they went 10 years ago, that has been unfortunate.”
Sainz got it wrong at Turn 5, and paid the price
The bottom line is that drivers like gravel traps, and places like the Nürburgring, Mugello and Imola – additions to the schedule forced by Covid – have provided further evidence.
“I think it is one of the coolest tracks, because of the run-off, the punishment you get for making mistakes, like people have done,” said Norris.
“I think at the same time, because we’re in the fastest cars which have ever been made, in a lot of tracks you do need the run-off from a safety point of view for it to be safe and for people not to get injured and things like that.
“I think the cool thing about this track is we have the gravel” Lando Norris
“But it doesn’t mean you just have to have tarmac run-off. You know, I think the cool thing about this track is we have the gravel, and you put a wheel into it a bit too much and you’re in the grass like Nicholas [Latifi] did and things like that.
“That’s the limit. There’s not this tarmac run-off. Where Nicholas crashed, he did have a big crash. And he went in pretty hard.
“And I think it shows that in some places, you do need that extended run-off. But it also shows that having gravel as run-off is okay, it doesn’t have to always be tarmac, which is the thing that as drivers we don’t like as much.
Perez rounds Norris at Turn 1, intriguingly the optimum way to overtake at that spot
“And it’s also the reason of so many track limits issues nowadays, because it’s tarmac run-off, not gravel. And yeah, I think it’s cool. I think everyone likes this track.”
There is much to be learned from Zandvoort that can help current and future tracks in terms of improving the track action.
And that will definitely happen, because one of the great innovations of the Liberty era is that the F1 organisation has experienced engineers running simulations and working with track designers in large part to improve overtaking opportunities.
Modifications were under way at Albert Park well before this year’s Australian GP was cancelled, while changes are also being made in Abu Dhabi. A lot of thought has also gone into upcoming new venues in Saudi Arabia and Miami.
All of that can only be positive, especially with the 2022 rule package. What new venues can’t buy is the fabulous atmosphere that we experienced at Zandvoort, and which fill the air too at the likes of Silverstone and Monza. That is beyond price…