Bob McMurray: Old favourite on track for a Formula 1 return
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Could Formula 1 be taking a step back to the future? Sadly not with the return of the magical and evocative sounding Ferrari V12, nor even the highly successful Honda V10 engines, both normally aspirated I might add. Nor back to the simplicity of car design, nor even with the recently introduced extra point for fastest lap, last seen in 1959.
This time it is the racing circuits.
With the slow demise of the Interlagos track at Sao Paulo, F1 owner Liberty Media is apparently seriously looking at moving the Brazilian F1 event back to Rio de Janeiro.
The city last hosted the F1 circus in 1989 before the move to Interlagos and the Jacarepagua track was finally demolished in 2012 to become part of the site for the 2016 Olympic Games.
In a strange twist to the story, the intention apparently is to host the race again around this now-defunct Olympic Games site.
That plan is yet to be confirmed but reports are that the return of the Dutch Grand Prix will be confirmed in the next few days with the first race to take place at Zandvoort, sitting comfortably in the sand dunes and nudging the North Sea, in 2020.
Despite the remodelling and upgrading, much needs to be done to the track before Formula 1 can descend upon it, mainly the paddock area and facilities, but the track, hopefully, will retain its character despite there being many modifications to it since Formula 1 last raced there in 1985.
That last race stays firmly in the memory because of the almost race-long battle between the McLarens of Niki Lauda and Alain Prost, with Lauda finally winning by just two-tenths of a second from Ayrton Senna in third, almost one minute behind, and the rest of the field lapped with only 10 of the 22 starters finishing.
I may even remember the after-race party as well.
The “old” Zandvoort weekend rarely went by without some incident or other, not always related to the on-track events, and stories abound about social happenings in the small, popular, seaside casino town that lends its name to the track.
Formula 1 trucks of the 1970s and 80s would drive on to the track at an access point on the final corner, then along the pit straight to the paddock.
That was all very well as long as you remembered to keep to the right side of the track, using the camber to go under the low Renault overbridge then to the left side of the track on the way out.
However a Renault truckie forgot and wedged, at some speed, the Renault race car transporter firmly under the bridge.
It took two days to extricate it.
The first corner after the start line — named Tarzan — still lives in the memory of any who have raced at the track and many have come to grief there, with the battle between James Hunt and Mario Andretti in 1977 one of the better known.
Sadly the track has also been the scene of F1 fatalities with the horrific accident, shown live on TV, that befell Roger Williamson in 1973 when fellow driver David Purley stopped his car to bravely try to extinguish the flames engulfing Williamson’s overturned car.
With the rise and rise of Max Verstappen there is no doubt at all that the race will be a sell-out. The small sea of orange that washes up at every Grand Prix around the world will turn into a tsunami that will flood every corner of the circuit.
Welcome back Zandvoort, you have been missed.