Outgoing Groningen alderperson Joost van Keulen will be leading a campaign to bring Formula 1 to Assen – not Zandvoort – in 2020.
Translation by Thomas Ansell
The massive popularity of Dutch F1 drivers like Max Verstappen has raised the profile of the sport in the country, as well as the possibility of the Netherlands joining the F1 calendar for the first time since 1985.
Both Assen and Zandvoort have expressed their interest in holding the race, and a group of Groninger and Drents businesspeople has created a campaign to promote Assen as an ideal location to hold the race in future. The Groninger Internet Courant reports that outgoing VVD alderperson Joost van Keulen will lead the campaign from March onward, and other group members are Erik Meems (general director of Century Auto Group) and Hanneke Bruggeman (director of De Nieuwe Kolk theatre in Assen).
According to Van Keulen, Assen is ready for the race immediately. Dagblad van het Noorden says that Assen has a chance of holding the race due to the fact that Zandvoort still needs to make several million euros’ worth of adjustments. But Zandvoort has the weight of history on its side: the facility hosted the Dutch Grand Prix between 1952 and 1985. It is a very old-fashioned circuit with few spots for cars to overtake one another, but it has held exciting GT races, DTM (Deutsche Tourwagen Masters), and Formula 3 races with success.
Assen, on the other hand, is a storied name within motorbike racing. An FIA track inspector, Charlie Whiting, last year said that the circuit only needed minor changes to host. Unfortunately, in recent years an amusement park has been built on the north end of the circuit, cutting the length from 7.5KM to 4.5KM.
Last year, Assen mayor Marco Out said that he believes if Formula 1 was to host an event in the Drenthe city, it would boost revenues at the TT Circuit to 200 million euros. The municipality of Assen and the province of Drenthe have been campaigning for a Drenthe Grand Prix over the past year, and a delegation from F1 paid TT Assen an unannounced visit over the summer.
In March, Liberty Media and the Formula 1 steering committee will meet to discuss whether Zandvoort or Assen will be given a spot on the F1 calendar.