F1 drivers in awe of ‘insane’ and ‘epic’ Zandvoort

vettel zandvoort banking

Formula 1 drivers were left in awe after experiencing Zandvoort on the opening day of the 2021 Dutch Grand Prix, Lewis Hamilton describing it as an “epic” old school track that punishes mistakes.

Indeed several were punished today as drivers explored the track during FP1 and FP2, which were disrupted by stoppages, some of them not having driven the venue, while all came to terms with the banking with some interesting approaches to taking it at speed seen throughout the day.

This is what F1 drivers had to say after their first taste of Zandvoort, on the calendar for the first time since the mid-eighties.

Lewis Hamilton (11th): “This track is epic. It brought back so many memories when I first got out there, from when I drove here before. I knew it was great when I was in Formula 3, but in a Formula 1 car it is just something else.”

Valtteri Bottas (4th): “It’s an exciting track to drive, with all the banked corners and high-speed sections. It’s got a nice flow and it’s fairly easy to settle into a rhythm. I’m sure tomorrow in Qualifying will be even more fun.”

Charles Leclerc (1st): “I really enjoyed driving on the new Zandvoort. The banking feels very special on the first timed lap and it’s just overall a fun track to drive on. Then for the race, I don’t think there will be much overtaking so it will be important to secure a good grid position.”

Carlos Sainz: “It’s an impressive and different track compared to what we are used to. It was fun to try different lines in FP1 around the banking corners and to push a bit more in FP2. I enjoyed myself out there today and the atmosphere with the fans close to the track is great!”

Max Verstappen (5th): “It was good! It was really enjoyable to see all of them in orange and having fun in the grandstand. And of course the track as well, it’s quite a short lap, but a lot of fast corners as well.”

Sergio Perez (12th): “It was awesome to get out there and drive this old school circuit. It’s very different to the other tracks we go to and with so many consecutive right-hand corners it’s a pretty unique and physical challenge. I’ve never driven here before so it’s completely new and with so many red flags it was difficult to get into a rhythm.”

Esteban Ocon (3rd): “It’s been a fun Friday and learning this track in a Formula 1 car has been awesome. It’s been high grip, a lot of Gs, undulation and taking on the banked corners, which, overall, has been mega fun.”

Fernando Alonso (6th): “I do like the track, it’s quite different in a few places and the banked corners are fun. The atmosphere is amazing too.”

Pierre Gasly (7th) “I must say it was really fun today, it’s an amazing track to drive on and very unique, especially turn 3 – it’s like sliding in a toboggan, with the banking.”

Daniel Ricciardo (15th): “This track’s cool, it’s a lot of fun! I definitely enjoyed that.”

Kimi Raikkonen (16th): “It’s quite a different track from what we usually drive on, but it’s nice: it’s not an easy one to put a lap together but driving on something new is a good challenge, and the crowd really makes an atmosphere.”

Antonio Giovinazzi (9th): “It feels like a party and it’s a huge credit to the Dutch fans, they really welcomed Formula One back. The track is enjoyable but it’s not an easy one on which to put everything together.”

Sebastian Vettel (10th): “It helped that I have driven here before many years ago. They did not change too much on the track, but I think the changes they have made are for the better. It is an exciting lap because of the banking and corners with camber are always good fun to drive. We need more circuits with these types of corners.

Mick Schumacher (17th): “I think the word rollercoaster really fits for here! It was a decent day, still lots to learn about this new track but I’m sure it’s the same for everyone.”

Nikita Mazepin (19th): “It was a lot more fun than I expected. The first time I passed the banking in the last corner I experienced something very different with my body – it felt quite cool! A new feeling for me, for sure, in Formula 1.”

Nicholas Latifi (18th): It was definitely challenging out there today. It’s a tight and twisty circuit with very few straights, so having 20 cars on track made it difficult to get some space. I spent a lot of time looking in my mirrors which can be quite difficult to manage on a hot lap. It’s also a very fun track to drive though; it’s high speed and narrow, so a proper old school track that will punish you if you make a mistake!”

George Russell (20th): “It was a great experience driving this circuit today. I think it’s definitely a driver’s favourite, it’s very undulating and all the banking is great to drive. It’s fast, flowing and you can’t put a wheel wrong and that is what we all want from a race track.”
(Additional reporting by Agnes Carlier)