Dutch GP: McLaren expecting an ‘interesting challenge’ at Zandvoort

Dutch GP: McLaren expecting an ‘interesting challenge’ at Zandvoort

McLaren are ready for the challenges awaiting at the Dutch GP, as Formula 1 returns to Zandvoort for the first time since 1985.

After a disappointing venture at the Belgium GP, Formula 1 makes its long awaited return to Zandvoort for the Dutch GP this weekend.

While the track has continued to be used for other racing categories, it has been off the F1 calendar for decades. Originally slated to make a return to the schedule in 2020, the Dutch GP like many others races, was unfortunately cancelled due to the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic.

However, despite Covid-19 restrictions remaining in place for The Netherlands, the track will be open to 70,000 fans per day. With a limit set at 67 percent capacity for the circuit.

One group of fans that will be in attendance for their home race is the ever growing Dutch McLaren Fans. Led by several mega McLaren supporters, the club has grown over the years from people all over The Netherlands and Europe.

With fans missing out on the opportunity to see any substantial racing at Spa, Lando Norris is keen to put on a show this Sunday.

“After a disappointing weekend in Belgium, I’m looking forward to heading back to track this weekend and hopefully putting on more of a show for the fans,” Norris said. “Zandvoort is a cool circuit and one that I’ve raced — and won — at before, back in 2017 in Formula 3.

“The track has changed quite a bit since then, with new banking, which could change how the race plays out. I’ve actually been back to the UK this week to drive the circuit in the simulator, so that we’re ready to hit the ground running when we get out on track on Friday.”

McLaren missed out on the opportunity of scoring a healthy haul of points at Spa. A track highly suited to the MCL35M, shown by both Norris’ and Daniel Ricciardo’s pace on track. Heading to Zandvoort will likely provide more of a challenge for the team. With far less high speed areas and tighter cornering.

Zandvoort is a track more suited to Ferrari, who now trail McLaren in the Constructors’ Championship by 3.5 points. The team will need to pull out all the stops to stay ahead of the Scuderia this weekend. Prior to heading to Monza for the Italian GP, where the MCL35M should have the advantage again.

“The Belgian Grand Prix was an odd weekend for many reasons, and it was a real shame the fans didn’t get to see a proper race,” Seidl said. “Thankfully we get to go racing again right away with F1’s return to Zandvoort for the first time since the ‘80s.

“It will be an interesting challenge for the team and drivers, as the cars have changed so significantly since then, while the overall layout of the circuit remains relatively similar. The tight and twisty characteristics with increased overtaking difficulty will dictate how we tackle this new challenge, and what to prioritise in terms of set-up and work programmes during the free practice sessions. Like Monaco, qualifying will go a long way to determining the finishing positions on Sunday.”

McLaren secured a 1-2 finish the last time the Dutch GP was run in 1985. With Niki Lauda coming home first, followed by teammate Alain Prost.