Zandvoort, home of the returning Dutch Grand Prix, has finally completed its unique banked turns which have been one of the biggest talking points of the circuit redesign.
The circuit will feature two banked turns: Turn 3 (Hugenholtz) and Turn 14 (Arie Luyendyk) with the former featuring a 19-degree angle, whilst Turn 14 is slightly less steep at 18-degrees.
The idea for the banking started with a suggestion from Zandvoort’s Technical Director Niek Oude Luttikhuis in consultation with the late FIA F1 Race Director Charlie Whiting on how to make the circuit faster and the racing more spectacular. Italian racetrack designer Dromo Circuit Design then came up with the initial sketches for the banked sections.
Dromo drafted in the help of Geobrugg along with US barrier specialist SmithFence – which has experience with oval fencing – and Dutch asphalt company KWS.
Banking comes with the increased technical challenges that this will present to the drivers and circuit safety has been a key aspect of the construction. Geobrugg had to come up with a unique solution whereby the concrete barriers are installed at a 90-degree angle to the track surface and fixed by tethering cables. This is to ensure the safety of the drivers if they leave the track – if they were installed at a vertical angle it would act as a ‘ramp’ and not be effective in the event of a crash.
The result, according to Dromo founder Jarno Zaffelli, is a set of corners that will be challenging for the drivers in a similar way to iconic sections like Eau Rouge and Raidillion at Spa-Franchorchamps or Maggots and Becketts at Silverstone.
“We did something that we thought would be really formidable to drive, that has no equal at any other racetracks.
“Turn 14 is quite ample and wide, making it full throttle, whereas the transition between Turn 2 and Turn 3 has a lot of elevation and banking changes. All of your horizon is tilting, all of your perception is evolving, you feel like you are being squeezed. It’s like being in a corkscrew, depending on the line that you are following.
“The challenge will be really huge because cars are not designed to sustain such a banking like that, so the teams will have to think about it. Not only from the tyre perspective but also the suspension as well, the handling, going into Turn 2 and Turn 3, and then out of Turn 4 will require a setup that will be a compromise because if you want to go fast there you will have to go slow in another section.”