Situated at the heart of the Dutch Atlantic coastline is Zandvoort, a centre for sunbathing enthusiasts which – along with its extensive beaches – has reached international acclaim thanks to one of the most challenging racing circuits in Europe; Circuit Park Zandvoort. The 4.307 km sweep through the dunes a short drive from Amsterdam will be thrown into the limelight for real this weekend, when it welcomes the world’s fastest Touring Car championship – the DTM – while simultaneously hosting the third round of the highly interesting Formula 3 Euro Series season.
Felix Rosenqvist has enjoyed a strong start to the year, having taken to the podium in two out of the six races that have been run so far this season. At the last round at Hockenheim two weeks ago, the Swede challenged Signature driver Marco Wittmann hard for second place in the final race of the weekend, and despite not being able to overtake his German opponent, Felix’s speed in the opening two rounds of the championship has surpassed most people’s expectations. Zandvoort, however, will be a brand new encounter for the 19-year-old, and with the circuit containing a number of notoriously difficult sections – perhaps most famously the Tarzan corner and the ultra-quick Scheivlak Bocht – the Mücke Motorsport driver will need all the practice time he can possibly get to adapt to a circuit where the vast majority of his rivals have raced several times before.
The relationship between Felix and team-mate Nigel Melker has so far been of much productivity, both for the Mücke Motorsport team as such and for the drivers themselves. With the most hectic schedule of all the drivers on the grid, Melker dovetails his F3 campaign with an all-out assault on the GP3 title and comes to Zandvoort fresh from his exploits at Istanbul Park last weekend – where he finished first and third respectively on his way to leaving Turkey with the GP3 championship lead. During the last Formula 3 Euro Series round at Hockenheim, though, the Dutchman – who will be on home soil this weekend – had a tougher time and had to see Felix beat him to the chequered flag in each of the three races.
While there is little to suggest that overall leader Roberto Merhi (Prema Powerteam) won’t be a front-running force again this weekend, Zandvoort has historically not been the scene of the Spaniard’s most dazzling results. Merhi’s best achievement at the track from two years of trying is a third place, and last season saw Signature trio Edoardo Mortara (who now competes in the DTM), Wittmann and Laurens Vanthoor set the pace at the venue. Furthermore, Wittmann had already proved his Zandvoort knowledge earlier in the year when he finished third in the classic Masters of Formula 3 race which traditionally takes place at the circuit each summer.
“Circuit van Zandvoort” opened its gates to the public back in 1948, and staged its first Dutch Grand Prix four years later. The Formula 1 World Championship would continue to pay annual visits to Zandvoort until 1985, when circuit owners ran into economic despair and eventually went bankrupt. At the same time, parts of the exceptionally fast layout were sold in order to make room for other urban developments in the southern region of the city. Then, in 1995, construction work began to create the new Circuit Park Zandvoort as we know it today. Despite major alterations taking place, the core of the old circuit – the start/finish area and the characteristic Tarzan corner – still remained the same.
From a Swedish perspective, Zandvoort will always be synonymous with Joakim Bonnier’s victory behind the wheel of a BRM in the 1959 Dutch Grand Prix – the only F1 triumph in Bonnier’s career, and the very first for Sweden in the sport’s top category.
The road to Formula 1 may be longer and more complex today than back in the 1950’s, but the Formula 3 Euro Series contenders will nonetheless be hoping to make an impression as they aim for the ultimate corridors of international motor racing. Join us at www.felixracing.se throughout the weekend to find out what Zandvoort holds in store for the highly competitive field, with reports and updates from on and off the circuit – brought to you in words, and brought to you in pictures. As per usual, of course, you will also be able to follow all the action from qualifying and the races through our LIVE commentary service at the website.
Formula 3 Euro Series - Zandvoort
TIMETABLE (local time - GMT+02:00)
FP: 09.10-11.15 (60 min - 5 min pause - 60 min)
Calendar and championship points structure
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The allocation of starting grid positions:
Race 1: Second-fastest lap from qualifying.
Race 2: Based on Race 1 results. Top eight drivers reversed for Race 2 grid.
Race 3: Outright fastest lap from qualifying.