Sunday 17 October 2021

Grand Prix kicks off amid farmers’ protest

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

Fans poured into the Zandvoort racing circuit on Friday as the first Dutch Grand Prix in 37 years kicked off with free practice sessions.

Some 70,000 people are expected to come through the gates each day to see the three-day spectacle. Dutch rail has increased the number of trains between Amsterdam and Zandvoort to 12 an hour, to cope with the influx of racing fans.

‘I have been looking forward to this all year long,’ one fan told broadcaster NOS.

It has not been an easy ride for organisers of the race. Not only did racing fans have to wait 36 years for Formula 1 racing to return to the Netherlands, but the coronavirus also put a spoke in the wheel, postponing it by another year.

Environmental organisation Mobilisation for the Environment took the organisation to court for allegedly exceeding greenhouse gas emission norms but lost its legal bid to ban the event earlier this week.

Locals in Zandvoort have been decking out the streets in orange balloons  and Formula 1 flags referencing Max Verstappen’s Twitter call to ‘Unleash the lion!’

The confrontation between Verstappen and reigning world champion Lewis Hamilton will happen on Sunday, with Hamilton just three points ahead in his quest to retain his title.

Farmers

While fans were waiting to see the first free practice session of the day, some 20 farmers on tractors lined the entrance road to the circuit demanding to speak to sponsor Jumbo boss Frits van Eerd about fair prices for their produce.

‘We are not here about carbon emissions and we think Formula 1 racing should continue. But we want a conversation about better prices,’ one farmer told NH Nieuws.

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