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  • Writer's pictureBen Waterworth

Top 5 Dutch Grands Prix

After what has seemed like an eternity, F1 is finally back.

The summer break is over and all 20 drivers will be back on track this weekend in Zandvoort for the 33rd official running of the race which will be a sea of orange for hometown hero Max Verstappen.

The Dutch Grand Prix has had an interesting history in F1. The first World Championship race was held at Zandvoort in in 1952 and was won by Alberto Ascari for Ferrari. From there it was sporadic on the calendar, appearing in 1953 and 1955 before a few years off, returning between 1958 and 1971 before another year off, then rejoining the calendar between 1973 and 1985 before once again disappearing before eventually returning in 2021 for the most two recent additions.

Australia has tasted success three times in the Netherlands, twice from Jack Brabham in 1960 and 1966 and once from Alan Jones in 1979.

But of all the 32 Dutch races held, which comes out on top? Let’s find out.

5. 1959 – Winner: Jo Bonnier (BRM)

BRM were a team that many British F1 fans hinged their hopes on in the 1950s to bring British glory to the top tier of motorsport. They made their debut in 1955 and had struggled to really make an impact, until the Dutch Grand Prix in 1959.

Swedish driver Jo Bonnier took his and BRM’s first pole position and looked like he was cruising to his and BRM’s first victory, until Stirling Moss overtook him in his Cooper on lap 60. However a gearbox failure for Moss soon allowed Bonnier to retake the lead, and he held on to beat Jack Brabham to take what was his only Grand Prix victory in his career and the first of BRM’s 17 race wins.

Prior to this the Dutch Grand Prix had been a pretty dominant affair by each winner (sound familiar?), with 1959 finally bringing something different.

4. 1977 – Winner: Niki Lauda (Ferrari)

In his year as reigning World Champion, James Hunt didn’t necessarily have the best season.

Coming into the Dutch Grand Prix that season, Hunt had only won the one race and was sitting in fifth place, 32 points behind his title antagonist from the previous season Niki Lauda.

Hunt started the Dutch Grand Prix in third and vaulted into the lead at the start ahead of the pole starter of Mario Andretti and Ligier of Jacques Laffite.

However as he looked to build his lead, Andretti soon came back at Hunt on lap 3, colliding with the British driver and sending the McLaren into the air and into retirement. In true Hunt fashion, several very animated words were exchanged with Andretti after the race. Andretti’s Lotus survived the incident, but he would later retire with an engine issue.

The main beneficiary from this incident was Lauda, who navigated the carnage to beat Laffite by 1.89 seconds and extended his Championship lead.

3. 1979 – Winner: Alan Jones (Williams)

Alan Jones won his first and only Dutch Grand Prix in 1979 in an entertaining race featuring some memorable antics from the legendary Gilles Villeneuve.

Jones started second on the grid but took the lead off the line after pole-sitter Rene Arnoux in his Renault was slow to get away. Jones would hold the lead until lap 11 when Villeneuve’s Ferrari overtook Jones’ Williams into Tarzan corner.

Villeneueve would hold the lead until lap 47 when he spun off, giving the lead back to Jones. Four laps later on lap 51, Villeneueve’s left rear tyre exploded causing him to spin again, and in one of the most famous laps in F1 history he managed to drive an entire lap on two tyres with right front airborne and the left rear shredding everywhere with sparks flying. While it ultimately caused his retirement from the race, the conversation on his act ranged from plaudits for his bravery to criticism over the danger he caused.

Jones would ultimately hold on to the lead and win the race, his fourth career victory and third in a row in 1979.

2. 1985 – Winner: Niki Lauda (McLaren)

The last Dutch Grand Prix until it returned to the calendar in 2021, it was also the last ever F1 win for Niki Lauda which turned out to be a classic.

There were a few notable moments before the epic Lauda drive. Nelson Piquet scored his first pole position of the season for Brabham, which also was the first ever pole for a tyre manufacturer you may have heard of, Pirelli. Lauda himself struggled in qualifying, and lined up 10th on the grid, seven spots behind his teammate Alain Prost.

A storming start and drive for Lauda vaulted him into the lead, a position he held until 12 laps remaining when Prost caught right up to him and delivered an epic wheel-to-wheel battle between the McLaren drivers. Lauda would hold on by a mere 0.232s to win the race, his 25th and final win in Formula One.

1. 1975 – Winner: James Hunt (Hesketh)

One of the most famous wins in F1 history, James Hunt went from being a driver nicknamed “Hunt the Shunt” to a Grand Prix winner for one of the most famous and memorable F1 teams of all time.

Niki Lauda and Ferrari had been dominating the Championship and started the race on pole position as he aimed for his fourth consecutive win. Lauda’s teammate Clay Regazzoni started alongside him, with Hunt third in his Hesketh.

Rain delayed the start of the race, and when it did eventually start Lauda lead away with Hunt dropping to fourth. However a great strategy call by the English driver put him onto slick tyres before anyone else on a drying track, giving him the advantage and eventually the lead.

He soon found himself more than ten seconds ahead of both Lauda and Jean-Pierre Jarier’s Shadow when they eventually got their slick tyres up to speed, and the future World Champion Hunt was able to hold off both to claim a famous maiden victory which he later would describe as “the race of his life.”

He also pointed out it as being the race that enabled him to move pass his “weakness” of throwing away race victories when in good positions to do so, and helped set him on a path to his famous World Championship victory a year later for McLaren.

Do you agree with this list? Which Dutch Grand Prix is your favourite? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below.

This article was originally written for The Roar. You can read the published version here


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