Coulthard sees no issue with potential F1 return to Zandvoort


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Former Formula 1 driver David Coulthard has said that he cannot see “any reason” why the sport should reject a return to Circuit Zandvoort after taking part in the Jumbo Racing Days publicity event at the Dutch venue.

Coulthard, a thirteen-time race winner in F1 with Williams and McLaren, joined current Aston Martin Red Bull Racing pairing Daniel Ricciardo and home hero Max Verstappen in front of a packed crowd near the North Sea coastline, driving the previous generation of Formula 1 machinery and the current Racing Team Nederland Dallara LMP2 car.

In an interview given to Motorsport.tv, Coulthard told of his delight in returning to the wheel of a Formula 1 car alongside “two of the best” drivers in the sport currently.

“It’s always special to drive a Grand Prix car,” the Scot beamed. “Obviously, these are the previous generation of cars but they’re still fast and sound fantastic – and to be out on the track with two other cars, in Daniel and Max – these are modern racers, two of the best in Formula 1.

“It’s a lot of fun and a great reminder, because it’s ten years since I raced in Formula 1!”

Zandvoort – an “awesome track”

When asked about Zandvoort – a circuit he raced at in the 1991 Marlboro Masters of Formula 3 and the DTM from 2010 to ’12 – the 47-year-old praised the “awesome” track and could see little issue in a return to hosting Formula 1 action.

“It’s an awesome track,” he said. “The section by the bank is so fast with blind corners. When you have a car like that, on a circuit like this, you feel alive. It feels like Spa, like a very high-speed challenge where a Formula 1 car comes alive.

“Track wise, I don’t see any reason why [Zandvoort should not return] – we race in Monaco and Singapore where there is no run-off.

“I think the only reason that might be an issue here is for the FIA, they may have an issue with paddock size or maybe certain run-offs. But, other than that, of course you can have a race here.”

Zandvoort hosted the Dutch Grand Prix 34 times over the course of 1948 to 1985, and has since undergone major renovation in terms of circuit layout. The track still hosts rounds of the DTM and the supporting FIA European Formula 3 Championship.

However, Coulthard’s former Red Bull team-mate Robert Doornbos has previously voiced his doubts over a Dutch GP return, with Zandvoort bosses worried about the potential cost implications. FIA Race Director Charlie Whiting inspected TT Circuit Assen earlier this year, and the predominantly motorcycle venue is seen as the more realistic choice – hoping to acquire the required Grade 1 status.

It is estimated that over 110,000 people flocked to Zandvoort for the event on Sunday, the second year in succession that attendances have reached six figures, Verstappen proving to be the main attraction. Coulthard acknowledged the pull of the event, lauding the “unique atmosphere” created by the Dutch public’s enthusiasm for motorsport.

“I think it’s an incredible event,” he added. “To have so many people here, that’s more than we get at some Formula 1 races.

“It shows that there is a real passion for motorsport here, not only Max, there are other Dutch people who have been very successful in motorsport. It’s very unique here.”

V6 turbo hybrid engines hold no “emotion or passion”

As Formula 1 looks to move towards a cheaper, more manufacturer and fan-friendly new engine formula for the start of the 2021 world championship, Coulthard said that he hopes that the sport can have an engine that evokes emotion amongst fans and drivers alike. However, the Scot did concede that the performance from the modern era power units is “very impressive” and remains in keeping with Formula 1’s role in the development of road going vehicles.

“I like the noise of the V8s,” he admitted. “The V6 doesn’t capture any emotion or passion, but that’s what we have.

“Formula 1 is still a technology sport and is still the fastest form of motorsport, so from that point of view it’s very impressive.”