Formula 1 confirms return of Dutch Grand Prix
Formula 1 has officially confirmed that the Dutch Grand Prix will return next season, ending a 35-year absence from the championship.
The Dutch Grand Prix at Zandvoort has not featured on the calendar since 1985 but the rise and popularity of Max Verstappen in recent years has fuelled speculation of the event’s return.
Motorsport Week reported last month that a deal had been struck for Zandvoort to make a comeback and on Tuesday Formula 1 chiefs confirmed the news, revealing that the event's contract is for at least three years.
Zandvoort is set to take up the space on the calendar which has previously been held by the now-out-of-contract Spanish Grand Prix at Barcelona, though chiefs at the venue still remain confident a late deal can be struck.
Formula 1 CEO Chase Carey confirmed that the Dutch Grand Prix "will be around this time of year. Essentially pre-Monaco. The early part [of the season] as we head into Europe."
The Dutch Grand Prix, which will be sponsored by Heineken, is the second confirmed calendar change for 2020, with a Vietnam Grand Prix around the streets of Hanoi to be held next April.
Two current grands prix are set to drop from the schedule with Spain’s exit likely and Germany’s departure anticipated, though Motorsport Week understands that Hockenheim still holds a 2020 option, dependent on favourable financial requirements.
Brazil’s President Jair Bolsonaro revealed that his country’s grand prix is to move to Rio de Janeiro in 2020 but it is thought unlikely that such a development is realistic until at least 2021, if the project ever materialises, for Sao Paulo holds a 2020 deal.
“We’re thrilled to be here today,” said Carey at a press conference in Zandvoort.
“There’s been a lot of anticipation about this potential event. We have an incredible history at Zandvoort, we last raced here 35 years ago, we’ve had some great races here.
“It’s a track that is a tremendously important part of Formula 1.”
Zandvoort, which currently lacks the Grade 1 license needed to host a Formula 1 race, will be "modified in order to meet the standards laid out by the FIA in order to host a Formula 1 World Championship event."
This applies to both the circuit and the infrastructure.
"I am pleased to see that Zandvoort will be part of the proposed calendar for the 2020 FIA Formula One World Championship, and thankful for the hard work of Formula 1 to bring the sport back to the Netherlands," said FIA President Jean Todt.
"It is a circuit with a long and impressive history of competition and is a great challenge for drivers, and with the popularity of Max Verstappen I’m sure there will be a huge number of fans in attendance.
"There is now a lot of preparation needed to bring the circuit up to the required safety standards to host a Formula 1 race, and we will work towards this together with Formula 1, KNAF – the Dutch ASN – and the circuit organisation."