Netherlands bids to regain Grand Prix slot in Formula One calendar

  • Netherland’s Zandsvoort circuit could pay out up to €40 million ($45.7 million) to stage a Grand Prix
  • Twenty-one races currently make up the Formula One calendar, but owners Liberty Media have spoken of a desire to increase that number
  • Vietnam Grand Prix in Hanoi was announced by Liberty Media at the start of November for the 2020 season
Max Verstappen of Netherlands and Red Bull Racing
Lars Baron | Getty Images Sport | Getty Images
Max Verstappen of Netherlands and Red Bull Racing

A Formula One (F1) Grand Prix in the Netherlands is a frontrunner to be added to the motorsport's calendar from 2020, after senior figures within the group talked up its potential this past weekend.

Dutch interest in F1 has risen again with the emergence of the Red Bull driver Max Verstappen. The Dutch national has been tipped as a future world champion and is often praised for his aggressive driving style.

"We are very interested in racing in Holland," Sean Bratches, the sport's commercial managing director said when asked about a possible return to the Zandvoort circuit that hosted thirty races from 1952 to 1985.

"We are having productive conversations there and I am cautiously optimistic we can do something to surprise and delight fans in that territory and take advantage of the Max factor," he added.

Local media reports have suggested a deal for 2020 could be on the table.

Dutch F1 fans have had to make do with exhibitions and minor motorsport competitions at the Zandvoort Circuit over recent years in order to get their racing fix. Verstappen, along with other Red Bull drivers, attracted more than 110,000 people earlier this year to a demonstration event.

The circuit, located in sand dunes on the Dutch North Sea coast, first hosted a Formula One championship race in 1952 but has been refurbished since 1985, when Austrian Niki Lauda won the last grand prix there.

Owners of the Zandvoort track were invited earlier this month to draw up proposals to take such a race back to the country. Dutch media reported it could cost 20 million euros ($22.8 million) to buy the rights to stage the event and that the total bill could hit 40 million euros.

U.S. company Liberty Media hold the commercial rights to Formula One and this month revealed that a new Vietnam Grand Prix will be added to the schedule from April 2020. It's part of Liberty's plan to create destination-based circuits for fans to visit.

"We are uniquely positioned to shine a light on the municipalities, cities, companies which we race and the economic impact is extraordinary in terms of job creation and tourism." Bratches exclusively told CNBC this month.

Talk of a Dutch Grand Prix, may also help to placate those who fear that European cities are becoming less important to Formula One's race calendar.

Currently the number of Grand Prix per season stands at 21, but Liberty has made it clear they would like to increase that number in future.

Formula One chairman Chase Carey told a Liberty Media investor meeting last week that "we expect to replace a few existing races where we inherited unattractive agreements, with new events or agreements that are better for racing and provide more value."

It's not been made clear yet whether Vietnam and the potential Netherlands races will immediately see that number increase, particularly with uncertainty still surrounding the future of the British Grand Prix at Silverstone and at Monza in Italy.