Experienced F1 racers, Max Verstappen, Lando Norris and George Russell were asked by F1 Initiative to discuss the distinct challenges offered by Zandvoort’s infamous Turn 3, officially known as Hugenholtzbocht. Verstappen humorously asked for the name to be repeated, leading to a round of tongue-twisted attempts from his colleagues. The name, however, wasn’t the only element tripping up drivers, as the unique profile of the bend has been causing headaches over the weekend.
During the dry second practice run, Oscar Piastri of McLaren ended up crashing, closely followed by AlphaTauri‘s Daniel Ricciardo who also crashed into the wall whilst trying to avoid colliding with his fellow Australian, sustaining a broken hand in the process. Haas‘ Kevin Magnussen met a similar fate, crashing into the wall during the wet third practice session on Saturday. Verstappen himself narrowly avoided crashing at the corner named after Dutch circuit designer, John Hugenholtz.
Zandvoort’s Turn 3 has had its fair share of incidents, most noteworthy of which was Carlos Sainz‘s huge crash during 2021’s FP3. Originally, Hugenholtzbocht was eclipsed by the Daytona-like banking of Arie Luyendyk corner but it’s now emerging as a standout feature of the Dutch GP venue primarily due to its re-profiled design, which has a variable six to 18-degree banking to allow for different lines.
Verstappen was confounded by why he lost control during his FP3 moment, given he wasn’t even pushing hard. He highlighted uncertainties with the last bit of the banking being extremely slippery, perhaps due to rubber or dirt. Russell likened the corner’s new tarmac to a bowling alley when it’s wet, while Norris remarked that the impressive banking can easily seduce drivers into being overly aggressive.
Piastri blamed his FP2 crash on the way the banking had to be approached and how, in his case, the resultant tyre behaviour was unexpected. The proximity of the wall doesn’t help either, he noted. Nico Hulkenberg from Haas team concurred and added that the rapid direction change through Turn 2 unsettles the car right at the start of the banking.
The specially designed gradual slope of the banking was meant to allow for multiple driving lines, but it soon became apparent that staying high is the preferred line. This preference made it even more challenging as any mistake leaves barely any time for recovery as the track wall is so close. Also, the generously painted on-track branding made the circuit edge even more slippery.
Nevertheless, it does set up a fascinating corner at the start, especially when cars attempt to run side-by-side on the flat-out run towards Turn 7. As Hulkenberg who will be starting from 14th place pointed out, different racers may opt for different lines, making for an unpredictable race start.