After a 35-year hiatus from the Low Country, Formula One was set to make a return to the legendary Zandvoort circuit on May 3rd. However, the fairy tale was not meant to be as it failed to feature in the revised F1 calendar after race officials confirmed the Grand Prix will be cancelled. The Dutch GP is the 10th race this year to be called-off due to the coronavirus pandemic, joining the likes of the Australian and Monaco GP.
The Netherlands remain under tight restrictions on public events until September 1st. Furthermore, promoters were less than eager to hold the inaugural race behind closed doors.
Jan Lammers, sports director of the Formula 1 Heineken Dutch Grand Prix, who oversaw the redevelopment of the circuit, said in a statement that organisers did not want to herald the race without the presence of the fans. Looks like the planets didn't align this time.
"We were completely ready for this first race, and we still are. An unbelievable achievement has been made thanks to all the fans, the companies and the governments involved." the statement read.
"We and Formula 1 have investigated the potential to hold a rescheduled race this year without spectators, but we would like to celebrate this moment, the return of Formula 1 in Zandvoort, together with our racing fans in the Netherlands. We ask everyone to be patient. I had to look forward to it for 35 years, so I can wait another year”.
The Dutch GP will be postponed to 2021, and Formula One management, together with the FIA, will determine a new date for the Grand Prix in the 2021 season schedule. For fans who have already bought tickets, fret not. All tickets will remain valid and are automatically converted to the Dutch Grand Prix in 2021. For those who are unexpectedly unable to attend, there is, of course, the possibility to ask for a refund.
Zandvoort is a unique track in the motorsports world as it features two high-speed corners that are banked at a 19-degree angle. The only other F1 track to have a banked corner is Indianapolis in the US, with an angle of only nine degrees.
The site of some incredible racing in the 70s and 80s, including the late, great Niki Lauda's last race win, no other race garnered on the 2020 schedule as much excitement from both fans and drivers as the Dutch GP, especially after undergoing extensive renovations and modernisation. Looks like Max Verstappen would have to wait till next year to race on home soil in front of his legion of orange fans.