Verstappen excited by Dutch Grand Prix's return

PARIS • Max Verstappen is thrilled to get his chance to race at the "iconic" Zandvoort circuit, after it was confirmed that the Dutch Grand Prix would be returning to Formula One next season after a 35-year absence.

A deal to stage the race at the historic seaside resort circuit near Amsterdam has been signed for at least three years, the International Automobile Federation, F1's ruling body, announced on Tuesday.

Red Bull's Verstappen, born 12 years after Niki Lauda took the last chequered flag at the circuit in a McLaren in 1985, hailed the prospect of lining up in his home race.

"It's just an iconic, historic track," he said in a team statement.

"I have raced there with F3 and it was a lot of fun. I compare the track a little bit with Suzuka (in Japan) because it's designed by the same person so I can understand that the characteristics are a bit similar.

"The track was actually pretty challenging; you have a few banked corners, some places are very narrow and there's no run-off. But that also makes it more exciting."

F1 chief executive Chase Carey said the return of racing to the Netherlands was in line with its twin policy of "respecting the sport's historic roots in Europe" while also looking for new venues.

"Next season therefore, we will have a brand-new street race that will be held in the Vietnamese capital of Hanoi, as well the return to Zandvoort, after an absence of 35 years," Casey said.

"In recent years, we've seen a resurgence of interest in F1 in Holland, mainly due to the enthusiastic support for the talented Max Verstappen, as seen from the sea of orange at so many races."

Red Bull boss Christian Horner agreed, saying: "A Dutch Grand Prix, with the popularity of Verstappen, is going to be immense."

Zandvoort will now be modernised to bring it up to the F1 world championship standards.

If none of the existing venues drop out, the addition of Hanoi and Zandvoort would mean a record 23-race season next year.

But five races (Britain, Germany, Italy, Mexico and Spain) are out of contract next year, with reports that two or even three could be ditched.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on May 16, 2019, with the headline 'Verstappen excited by Dutch Grand Prix's return'. Print Edition | Subscribe