The sights and roaring sounds of Amsterdam Beach
You might ask yourself: Amsterdam has a beach? The city does have a couple of small beaches, such as Pllek and Strandzuid, but those are not the Amsterdam Beach we are referring to now. We are talking about Zandvoort, which though it isn’t really a part of the Dutch capital city, is where many of the locals go when they want to spend a day at the beach. And it is where the Formula One circus settles for one weekend in the year for a magnificent party.
Where to go in Zandvoort to enjoy the beach and nature
Zandvoort is one of the most famous beach resorts in the Netherlands. It is the perfect city escape at any time of year, with its unspoiled coastline, dunes and beach clubs. And you can get there quickly too, by train Zandvoort aan Zee is only 30 minutes from Amsterdam Central Station.
Zandvoort’s 9 km long beach offers plenty of opportunities for water sports, including surfing, stand-up paddle boarding and kitesurfing. If you want to enjoy water sports at Zandvoort be sure to do so at least 150 meters from the waterline, to leave enough room for those swimming in the sea. You can be very active at Zandvoort, which is designated as a daredevil sports location, but simply relaxing on the beach is perfectly fine and enjoyable too.
Do you want more than sand and water when you visit the beach, than one of the over 30 beach clubs or beach pavilions is where you’ll want to spend your day at Zandvoort. There are all sorts of different beach clubs, from luxurious lounging with tapas to old fashioned fried fish on a cosy terrace. Every beach bar has its own charm and ambiance and you’ll find all sorts of different cuisines here as well, from Cuban to Australian.
The dunes around Zandvoort are part of the Zuid-Kennemerland National Park, which you can enter for free. If you visit here be sure to stay on the paths to not disturb the incredible wildlife you can spot here. The park is home to over 100 species of bird, as well as deer, rabbits, and even Highland cattle and European bison.
Formula 1 at the seaside
One of Zandvoort’s biggest attractions is the circuit at the north end of the beach. The legendary Circuit Park Zandvoort is the home of Dutch motor racing and in 2021, Zandvoort made its official return to the Formula 1 calendar. During this one weekend of the year, the usually quiet seaside resort throws a party unlike any other as the engines of Formula 1, Formula 2, Formula 3 and Porsche Super Cup cars roar across the circuit.
The circuit in Zandvoort dates back all the way to 1948 and first made an appearance on the Formula 1 calendar in 1952. That first Dutch Grand Prix was won by Alberto Ascari in his Ferrari, from then on F1 raced on the circuit on and off until 1985. When the Dutch GP returned after a 36 year hiatus, the sport had become one of the most popular in the Netherlands and all the Dutch fans were rewarded when Max Verstappen (half Dutch, half Belgian) won the race.
During the long weekend that Formula 1 is in town, Zandvoort is actually not accessible by car. To make the whole event more sustainable visitors are encouraged to come to the circuit by train or, in true Dutch style, by bike. To prepare for the large crowds, there will be up to 12 trains an hour to get you to Zandvoort, more than at any other time during the year.
Aside from the racing and practice sessions, there is more to do at the circuit during the F1 weekend. Show teams will carry out stunts on the circuit and artists will perform. In the Fanzone visitors can test their race skills in the F1 Esports competition, practice a pitstop on a real Formula 1 car and much more. Beyond the circuit there is also lots to do on the beach and in the town, such as an Escape Room: the Grand Prix, a giant Ferris wheel, a kart track and much more.
An introduction to Formula 1
Though Formula 1 is a very popular sport in the Netherlands now, that wasn’t always the case. When you are new to the sport it can be confusing, even if you’ve watched Drive to Survive on Netflix. So here is a quick explanation of the sport and some frequently used terms.
Formula 1 is a world championship in two categories, one for the drivers and one for the constructors, using open-wheel, open-cockpit, single-seat racing cars. In 2022, there will be 22 races all around the world, from Japan to Brazil and from Australia to the Netherlands. At each race, ten constructors compete with two cars each (the amount of constructors has varied a lot over the years). The championship for the drivers has more prestige and gets more publicity but the championship for the constructors is where all the money is.
A Formula 1 race has to be at least 305 km long (except for the Monaco GP) and because no circuit is the same, every race takes a different amount of laps to complete. The race starts with a formation lap, which the drivers use to warm up their tires. When all the cars are back on the grid, five red lights go and when they go out the race officially starts.
Because all the cars are close together at the start of the race the first few corners of any race are the most dangerous for the drivers as a slight touch with another car can send them off the track and into the barriers. Throughout the race, you’ll see the cars have tires with different coloured lines on them.
The colours indicate what type of compound the tire has; red for soft, yellow for medium and white for hard, and if it is raining there is also green for intermediate and blue for full wet. During a race, if it doesn’t rain hard enough for either of the rain tires, drivers must use at least two different types of tires. This is where strategy is important and why even throughout a race it remains a team sport, as it is the team strategists and not the drivers who take the lead in tire and when to stop decisions.
At the end of the race, the top ten finishers gain points for the championships, with the constructors gaining the points from both of their drivers. First place gets 25 points, second 18, third 15, fourth 12, fifth 10 and so on, one extra point is given to the driver with the fastest race lap (as long as they finish in the top 10). Whoever has the most points at the end of the season wins the championship.
Formula 1 terms
Polesitter: the driver who starts from first position (P1), usually because they set the fastest time in the final qualifying session
Backmarker: trailing drivers who are being overtaken by the leaders of the race
Box: a reminder or indication for the drivers to come in for a pit stop
DRS: Drag Reduction System, which opens up the rear wing on the cars to allow better airflow on marked zones of the track
Tear-off: the drivers helmet visors are covered with multiple tear-offs which drivers can take off during the race to get rid of any dirt that blocks their view
Orange army: fans of Max Verstappen dressed in orange, at many European races there are full orange grandstands filled with fans
Formula 1 teams and drivers
Red Bull Racing with Max Verstappen and Sergio ‘Checo’ Perez
Scuderia Ferrari with Charles Leclerc and Carlos Sainz
Mercedes with Lewis Hamilton and George Russel
Mclaren with Lando Norris and Daniel Ricciardo
Alpine with Esteban Ocon and Fernando Alonso
AlphaTauri with Pierre Gasly and Yuki Tsunoda
Aston Martin with Lance Stroll and Sebastian Vettel
Williams with Alex Albon and Nicholas Latifi
Alfa Romeo with Valtteri Bottas and Zhou Guanyu
Haas with Keven Magnussen and Mick Schumacher