Judge’s decision jump starts first Grand Prix at Zandvoort since 1985

The circuit from the air. Photo Essay Produkties via Circuit Zandvoort
The circuit from the air. Photo Essay Produkties via Circuit Zandvoort

The Dutch Grand Prix at Zandvoort will go ahead as planned on Friday after a last legal challenge to the event on environmental grounds was rejected by a court.

Environmentalists Mobilisation for the Environment said the three-day event would produce too much pollution, but the judge found for the GP organisation, which he said would be bankrupted if the licence were revoked. He did order an independent party to measure CO2 emissions around the circuit.

It was the final potential spoke in the wheels of the Grand Prix after the coronavirus crisis scuppered its long-awaited return to Zandvoort in 2020. The event has been absent since 1985, when money problems and antiquated facilities put a stop to the lucrative event.

The circuit is now part-owned by Prince Bernhard Jr, whose company Chapman Andretti partners was given a licence to return Formula 1 racing to Zandvoort for the next three years, sponsored by Heineken, in 2019.

The government’s decision in August to allow the race to go ahead was heavily criticised by the events industry, which saw its festivals cancelled while some 70,000 race fans a day will be able to gather at Zandvoort with impunity. The organisation said in its defence that all visitors had fixed seating and that testing for entry rules would apply.

Meanwhile the royal owner himself caused a small scandal by asking Dutch artists to perform for free at the event, which, in the light of the cancellations and the hardships they suffered during the crisis, was considered by many to add insult to injury.

The main event at the weekend will be the head-to-head contest between Max Verstappen and reigning world champion Lewis Hamilton on Sunday, with Hamilton just three points ahead in his quest to retain his title. The complete programme can be found here.

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