Saturday 23 January 2021

No government money for Formula 1, minister tells Zandvoort race track

Zandvoort racing track from the air. Photo: Quistnix via Wikimedia Commons

The government will not contribute financially to plans to bring Formula 1 racing back to the Netherlands, sports minister Bruno Bruins has told MPs.

Both Zandvoort and Assen are campaigning to bring back top flight motor racing to the Netherlands and Zandvoort had asked for a €5m annual contribution towards staging the race.

However, Bruins told MPs in a briefing that although many people will enjoy such an event, the government would not invest in it because it would not be a justifiable use of taxpayers money.

In particular, the event is owned by a listed American company – Liberty Media – and other commercial events succeed without government help, Bruins said.

In addition, the event does not dovetail sufficiently with the government’s own sports targets, which focus on inclusive sports which stimulate people, particularly children, to take physical exercise, the minister told MPs.

Three races

The briefing states that Formula One Management has reached an agreement in principle with the Zandvoort race track to stage a Grand Prix in 2020, 2021 and 2022, which would appear to rule out a deal with Assen.

According to RTL Nieuws, the Zandvoort circuit has until March 31 to sort out the finances. The total cost of staging each race is put at €30m to €40m.

Research published by the town council and track owners a year ago said there are no insurmountable organisational, technical or logistical reasons why Formula One racing could not return to the seaside resort.

The last Grand Prix was held at the track, in the heart of the coastal dunes, in 1985 and was won by Niki Lauda.

Among the events currently staged on the circuit, which was first built after World War II, is Formula Three racing.

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