Ahead of this year's Dutch Grand Prix, the Zandvoort circuit comes with an unusual feature: A fake gravel trap. What is it and why will the FIA use it for this weekend's GP?
Last year's Dutch Grand Prix included one very comfortable pole-to-victory by Max Verstappen, and not one, not two, not even five, but six red flag stoppages throughout the weekend. During the 2021 GP saw many drivers run across the kerbs of T12 and bringing gravel into the track, which resulted to the many red flags.
This year, the race organisers at Zandvoort have decided to not use asphalt, as a run off area option, but something rather unusual.
The new run off area at T12 looks just like gravel, but is glued together, solid as a rock. Part of the actual gravel has been encased in a material that resembles resin, which makes it extremely solid, hence the "fake gravel trap" name that's been awarded to it by social media.
This way, the circuit won't end up looking like a beach every time drivers run off slightly at that turn. On the other hand though, this resin-like material will provide minimal to zero grip,
discouraging drivers from abusing that line.
Dutch GP sporting director, Jan Lammers, said: "To avoid gravel getting on the track, they have made the first metre look like gravel - but it's actually a bit like tarmac.
"You can't really use it: it's too slippery and bumpy for cars. But at least it avoids getting all kinds of debris on the track, so it's a nice development for other tracks."
Journalist Albert Fabrega, who currently is at the track for the Grand Prix weekend, reported on the spot, showing the new gravel trap material up close. It indeed looks really solid, even glossy as well, so drivers will most likely not want to risk running over that area.