Following the highly successful comeback Grand Prix in Mexico earlier this month, Formula 1 could potentially make returns to the Netherlands and Argentina, according to recent news reports from both countries.
The Zandvoort town council has agreed to explore the feasibility of reviving the Dutch Grand Prix, which is of no great surprise given the successes that rookie driver Max Verstappen is enjoying in his debut Formula 1 season.
The Circuit Park Zandvoort was a fixture on the Formula 1 calendar from the 1950s until the mid-1980s, before the venue went bankrupt a few years later and half the land on which half the circuit lay.
The land that was sold became a gold course and holiday park, with the money being raised in the sale applied towards redeveloping what was left of the circuit to a twistier, 4.3-kilometre layout (pictured above) that still retained plenty of the character of its forebear.
Having the town council agree to a feasibility study is the first in a number of significant and costly steps that would have to be undertaken before the Dutch Grand Prix could return. Revamping the circuit and pits to have its FIA Grade 1 status reinstated, as well as raising what will not doubt be a sizable fee to Formula One Management are but two challenges that officials would face.
Added to that, there is a broader infrastructure challenge of getting tens of thousands of fans to and from the venue, which is poorly serviced by public transports and has little in the way of parking facilities for motorists.
While Zandvoort carries so much history with it and its Formula 1 return would be lauded by many in motorsport, the challenges might make this an insurmountable task.
The last time the idea of the return of the Dutch Grand Prix was raised in the 1990s, the regional government recommended that it would be easier and more cost-effective to build a brand new facility in the country’s north, or to repurpose one of the Netherlands’ many now-disused military airbases.
A return to Argentina’s Autódromo Juan y Oscar Gálvez circuit in Buenos Aires is also reportedly on the cards, with Formula 1 supremo Bernie Ecclestone keen to expand the sport’s reach into the growing TV audience in the Americas.
The circuit has been an on-and-off Formula 1 host since the 1950s, when it joined the calendar thanks to the support of President Juan Perón, running until 1960. Its return in 1972 coincided with the arrival of a certain driver called Carlos Reutemann, and the success of ‘Lole’ ensured it remained on the calendar until 1982.
There was one final four-year chapter, from 1995-1998, with the Grand Prix running on a tighter and slower ‘Circuito No. 6’ which was widely criticised for its bumpiness and lack of overtaking opportunities.
The event was extremely popular but not at all profitable given the amount of bribery that was reportedly taking place between officials, promoters and the government.
It seems that Buenos Aires’ mayor, Mauricio Macri, has been in lengthy discussions with Ecclestone about getting the race back, which have been unsuccessful to-date. Macri is now a candidate in the upcoming presidential elections, and should he be successful then it would be safe to assume that the money will be found to refurbish the circuit and get a deal locked in.
Images via Britcar and Sutton Motorsport Images