Zandvoort ‘only candidate’ for F1 return to The Netherlands
The Netherlands Sports Council has ruled out Assen and determined that Zandvoort is its “only candidate” for a potential Formula 1 return.
Both circuits had been pushing to host a grand prix as soon as 2020, and F1 commercial boss Sean Bratches last year described the championship as “very interested” in The Netherlands due to the commercial appeal of Max Verstappen.
While the circuits themselves at Assen and Zandvoort are considered close to F1-standard in their current states, NLsportraad (the council) has put its support behind the latter.
In an open letter issued to Dutch parliament, it cites the F1 heritage of Zandvoort, the only venue to have ever hosted the Dutch Grand Prix, as well as proximate accommodation and infrastructure as reasons for its stance.
“Direct contact between the NLsportraad and the responsible manager of FOM (Formula One Management) made it clear that circuit Zandvoort is the only candidate in the Netherlands suitable to organise a Formula 1 race in the Netherlands because of the history and the close proximity of big cities and airports,” read the letter, which is signed by council chairman Michael van Praag and secretary-general Mariëtte van der Voet.
“FOM stated that the only possibility of the Formula 1 race being awarded to the Netherlands is if the business case of Zandvoort is completed in time to the deadlines discussed.”
Zandvoort holds an exclusivity agreement with FOM for the possible hosting of a Dutch Grand Prix which expires on the last day of this month.
It is, however, still seeking sponsorship to support its business case for hosting F1 again, and NLsportraad suggests that the national government’s refusal to financially support a race has hurt this endeavour.
“Circuit Zandvoort explained that there are sponsor partners that are interested but their confidence in the business case of Zandvoort might have decreased because the central government chose to only facilitate the plans and not provide subsidy,” states the letter.
“This explanation is consistent with the findings of the NLsportraad that the confidence of companies increases when the central government is willing to facilitate and invest.”
Assen, which currently hosts MotoGP and also DTM this year, claims to have a foreign investor willing to pay the hosting fee, and also has backing from the Drenthe province and the city of Assen.
NLsportraad’s letter calls for co-operation between national, provincial, and local governments to support and “facilitate” a race at Zandvoort.
It states that “the nation as a whole – including Circuit Assen – can take advantage of the spin off if there is a mutually agreed plan and cooperation.
“Facilitation by the government is crucial to guarantee infrastructure and security preconditions.”
The last Dutch Grand Prix was held in 1985.