20 Nov 2018

F1 may return to The Netherlands

7:06 am on 20 November 2018

Formula One is hoping to bring back the Dutch Grand Prix and build on the wave of popularity surrounding Red Bull's Max Verstappen.

Max Verstappen in action in Austria.

Max Verstappen in action in Austria. Photo: Photosport

"We are very interested in racing in Holland," Sean Bratches, the sport's commercial managing director, told Reuters at the weekend when asked about a possible return to the Zandvoort circuit that hosted 30 races from 1952 to 1985.

"We are having productive conversations there and I am cautiously optimistic we can do something to surprise and delight fans in that territory and take advantage of the Max factor," he added.

Local media reports have suggested a deal for 2020 could be on the table.

Verstappen, 21 and seen as a future world champion, has a huge national following as the country's most successful Formula One driver.

The youngest race winner ever now has five victories to his name, including two this season with Red Bull -- with some 20,000 Dutch fans travelling to the team's home race in Austria, which he won.

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

The circuit, located in sand dunes on the Dutch North Sea coast, first hosted a Formula One championship race in 1952 and has been refurbished since 1985 when Austrian Niki Lauda won the last grand prix there.

The return of Zandvoort would alleviate fears about the sport distancing itself from its European past, with other 'heritage circuits' facing an uncertain future.

Formula One, whose commercial rights are owned by U.S.-based Liberty Media, recently announced Vietnam will host a grand prix in Hanoi for the first time in 2020 and is aiming to expand the calendar beyond the current 21 races.

At the same time, historic but financially-challenged venues like Britain's Silverstone, Italy's Monza and Germany's Hockenheim have contracts expiring next year with concern about their futures.