Max Verstappen: F1 hoping to reinstate Dutch GP due to 'the Max factor'

By Andrew BensonChief F1 writer
Max Verstappen at the Austrian Grand Prix
The grandstands at the Red Bull Ring in Austria have become a sea of orange in support of Max Verstappen

Formula 1 is hoping to reinstate the Dutch Grand Prix in the wake of the growing popularity of Red Bull driver Max Verstappen.

The race was last held at Zandvoort, a seaside resort 20 miles from Amsterdam, in 1985 but could be revived for 2020.

F1's commercial managing director Sean Bratches said he was "very interested" in re-establishing the event.

Bratches said he was having "productive conversations" and was "cautiously optimistic we can do something".

Bratches said he was hoping to take advantage of what he called "the Max factor".

This has seen huge numbers of Dutch fans travelling to other European races, most notably this year Austria, Hungary and Belgium, to cheer on their new hero.

Verstappen, 20, has won two races this year, five in all in his career so far, and is regarded as a future world champion.

An event held at Zandvoort in May, which featured Verstappen and other Red Bull drivers doing demonstration runs, attracted more than 110,000 people.

Zandvoort's return would partially alleviate concerns that the sport's European heritage is being forgotten in the 21st Century.

Prost, Lauda and Senna on the podium at the Dutch Grand Prix
Niki Lauda (centre) shares the podium with Alain Prost (left) and Ayrton Senna (right) at the last Dutch Grand Prix in 1985

The track was widely admired when it held 34 races between 1948 and 1985, including in consecutive years from 1948-53, 1958-71 and 1973-85.

F1's owners Liberty Media, which took over the sport in 2017, have said they want to protect classic tracks but the British Grand Prix at Silverstone, the German race at Hockenheim and Italy's at Monza all have contacts that expire next year.

Liberty have said that the British Grand Prix does not have to be at Silverstone, but that it is F1's favoured option.

The track's owners, the British Racing Drivers' Club, last year activated a get-out clause that terminated the contract after 2019 because they said they could no longer afford the event at their agreed fee.

Bratches, who was speaking to Reuters, said: "We've said time and again our intention is to race in Silverstone for the next 68 years.

"But at the same time we are running a business and we are going to make prudent decisions as it relates to running the business and that includes keeping a keen eye on fans' views and perspectives."


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