Zandvoort confirms Verstappen can use altered layout for Dutch GP

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Zandvoort has confirmed only Max Verstappen will be able to use an altered circuit layout at this year's Dutch Grand Prix.

The historic venue was set to return to the Formula 1 calendar last year, but was one of 13 races that were ultimately cancelled due to Covid-19.

And while the Dutch GP was given a later September date for 2021, whether it goes ahead is still conditional on having the stands filled with likely passionate Verstappen fans.

“Nothing has changed compared to last year. At the moment we don’t get any help, it’s still all or nothing,” Robert van Overdijk, general manager of Circuit Zandvoort, told NOS.

“We heard Hugo de Jonge [outgoing Minister of Health, Welfare and Sport] recently saying anyone can be vaccinated by July 1. So we will just continue organising like there will be 104,000 people a day at the track.”

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Overdijk also played down the possibility that, given how circuits like Portimao and Imola have capitalised on Covid-19 to join the calendar, another cancellation of the Dutch GP this year might mean it never takes place.

“No, we don’t worry about that at all,” he said.

“The viewing figures in the Netherlands are rising, while in the rest of the world they might drop a bit because of corona. So I think if FOM [Formula One Management] should want to be somewhere, it is still in the Netherlands.”

Ahead of the planned 2020 race, Zandvoort underwent a considerable renovation to bring the circuit up to Grade 1 FIA standard with new banked corners also installed to improve the racing.

However, after the success of the special Mercedes-only layout at Turn 4 in Bahrain last Sunday, a similarly small but potentially significant advantage is set to be given to Verstappen at his home race.

"For Max, we will install a less acute version of the Audi chicane in the second half of the lap," Jan Lammers, Dutch GP sporting director, confirmed.

formule 1 2021 zandvoort

"We saw in Bahrain how being able to carry more speed through Turn 4 on 29 different occasions helped Lewis Hamilton keep our superior Lion at bay for longer than he perhaps could have on the normal layout.

"So, we are confident this faster version of one of the tightest sections on our circuit here at Zandvoort, will give Max the helping hand he needs to win and give our incredible fans exactly what they want to see."

As for why the same privilege hasn't been given to Verstappen's Red Bull teammate Sergio Perez, Lammer simply replied: "Who?"

Whether the FIA will have something to say on this is another matter, but certainly, the Dutch GP organisers plan to make Mercedes look like absolute fools.