The western Dutch circuit of Zandvoort will be included in the 2020 Formula One calendar for the first time in 35 years, the organizers announced Tuesday.
During a press conference held at the coastal town of Zandvoort, Chase Carey, the Chairman and CEO of Formula One, confirmed the Dutch Grand Prix will return to the calendar on a three-year contract.
"We are particularly pleased to announce that Formula 1 is returning to race in the Netherlands, at the Zandvoort track," the F1 website quoted Carey as saying. "From the beginning of our tenure in Formula 1, we said we wanted to race in new venues, while also respecting the sport's historic roots in Europe."
Zandvoort last hosted a Formula One race in 1985, when Niki Lauda of Austria won the contest and since then the Netherlands quit the F1 scene as the grand prix was too expensive for Dutch pockets.
Hosting the event involves investments of 40 million euros ($44.92 million), half of which the Formula One Management collects in exchange for holding the race.
Also, 10 million euros have been allocated to improving the Dutch circuit.
Local authorities said they were willing to invest four million euros in the project due to their commitment to making sure the event is as environmentally attuned as possible.
The Dutch government, however, said it had no intention of allocating any funds to the race because "it is not justified as an expense of the taxpayers' money," which means that sponsorship deals and ticket sales are set to finance the event.
Nearly 100,000 people are expected to visit the race-track over the three-day event scheduled for May.
"There is now a lot of preparation needed to bring the circuit up to the required safety standards to host a Formula 1 race, and we will work towards this together with Formula 1, KNAF - the Dutch ASN - and the circuit organization," President of the Federation Internationale de l'Automobile Jean Todt said according to the F1 website.
Historically, the circuit has been a talisman as 13 out of 20 drivers who have won it managed to clinch the world title, including Italy's Alberto Ascari (Ferrari), who earned the inaugural edition of the Dutch Grand Prix in 1952.
Mercedes driver Valtteri Bottas, who became the first racer to win two of the famous F3 Masters races held at the venue, in 2009 and 2010, said it was “really great for F1” that Zandvoort should be back on the calendar.
“I have many good memories from racing there in Formula Renault and Formula 3,” he said. “It’s a cool track, there’s quite a bit of elevation change, many high-speed corners and quite technical in places – like the last sector – so there’s a bit of everything," said the Finnish driver who is currently second in the standings behind his teammate Lewis Hamilton.
"It’s an old-school track. That is what I love about it – it penalizes mistakes. So it’s going to be fun. Even in F3 races, there were so many spectators and a great atmosphere, so it’s going to even bigger with F1.”
One of the reasons to resurrect the track is the popularity currently enjoyed by Netherlands-born Red Bull Racing driver, Max Verstappen who is third in the standings behind Hamilton and Bottas.
Verstappen's father, Jos, was also a renowned F1 driver.
“I’m very excited for the Dutch Grand Prix to return,” said Verstappen. “You’ll see a lot of Dutch fans around the track, in the dunes as well," the Red Bull driver said. "I’ve done a bit of driving there before, it’s a beautiful and historic track, so it’s definitely going to be a good one," he added.
“It’s a very challenging track, old school, a bit like Suzuka – it was designed by the same person. With F1 cars it’s going to be really quick. I’m looking forward to it," he said.
“It’s nice to have a home race. I have one already in Spa, as I’m half Belgian and half Dutch, so it’s going to be a lot of fun to have the two.”
Carey said that while it was important to build new tracks and expand the sport into new markets, Europe continued to be the bedrock on which F1 was constructed.
“We’re excited to grow this sport in new markets like Vietnam but it is important to continue to build the foundation of the sport in Europe, which is the home of F1. It’s where it was built," Carey said.
The decision comes as doubts grow about the permanence of Barcelona on the annual race calendar, especially after the retirement of Spain's two-times world champion, Fernando Alonso.