Lammers: Zandvoort without spectators will be very painful

Dutch Grand Prix sporting director Jan Lammers is cautiously optimistic the race will happen next year, making up for the disappointment of this year’s cancellation, but he admits is not keen on Zandvoort hosting Formula 1 in front of empty stands.

Fate has been cruel to Dutch Formula 1 fans, without a Grand Prix since 1985 they were finally going to have their race again on 3 May 2020… until COVID-19 destroyed that plan and the race was cancelled.

Since Max Verstappen sensationally burst onto the F1 scene, capturing the hearts and souls of his fellow countrymen, the sport has enjoyed a boom in the country and a race in Holland was inevitable but, now in the current virus-induced times, the future status of the race is not so certain even to the team who run the venue.

Speaking to RacingNews365, Lammers explained the uncertainties facing his organisation, “There is only one certainty, and that is the virus has the world in its grip. As much as we would like to answer all the questions, at the moment the virus remains.

“So much can happen in the coming months. We would like to give concrete answers but we simply do not have them at the moment and a lot can still happen in the meantime.”

To deliver the 17-races required for this year’s world championship, F1 is running in front of empty grandstands until further notice, though some are suggesting Abu Dhabi may be open to fans.

However, this is pure speculation predicting the course of the virus is a day-to-day project and the reality is,  if any of the forthcoming F1 host nations/cities are struck by another break-out or spike in coronavirus cases plans will have to be altered accordingly.

On a related note, the circuit boss is sceptical about running the race without fans, “We will be faced with a dilemma: should we consider finishing the race without spectators? The Grand Prix at Zandvoort is not an event to be held without fans, we sold too many tickets for that.

“Formula One Management (FOM) knows that we are ready and are aware that an event here at Circuit Zandvoort, without any spectators, will be very painful,” explained Lammers, who is hoping on a May date for the 2021 race.

But how the unpredictable virus evolves in coming months will be crucial to determining what the 2021 F1 calendar will look like, “The first question is, what will happen between now and the publication of the calendar?

“Of course, hard work is being done on a vaccine and a cure for the coronavirus. Those are not simple things but if you look at what has transpired in recent months, then a lot can happen in the medical world in coming months,” concluded Lammers, a former-F1 driver turned circuit boss.