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Productive testing in the rain and sunshine at Zandvoort

Published on 29 July 2014 by Stefan Meens

After a well-earned weeklong holiday in the south of France, Max Verstappen is ready to take on the remainder of the FIA Formula 3 European Championship. Ahead of the eighth round of the series at the Red Bull Ring, the talented Dutchman travelled to the Netherlands to absolve a test session at the Zandvoort circuit, where he won the Zandvoort Masters only a mere month ago.

“The goal of the test is to improve the set up of the car. I experienced understeer at the Moscow Raceway so we are trying different solutions to improve the car”, explains Max.

Upon arrival at the famous track in the Dutch dunes, Van Amersfoort Racing (VAR) are greeted by grey clouds and plenty of rain. Nevertheless, all three European F3 VAR drivers take to wet track with Max clocking the most laps.
Two and a half hours into the test, the session has to be halted as several puddles of standing water and ‘rivers’ make the circuit undrivable. Max: “Even though it rained a lot, we still managed to try different things on the car and it went really well.”

It was not the first time Verstappen junior drove on a wet Zandvoort. During the Masters, the first qualifying session was absolved in the wet, albeit the rain was not as heavy and Max drove in a different car with different tyres. “I think I had more grip during the test than at the Zandvoort Masters. Only early on in the morning, when the rain was at its heaviest, the car handled more like a boat than a racing car, especially when the bottom of the car hit the puddles”, smiles Max.

Two hours into the afternoon, the rain finally ceases. Combined with a mixture of sunshine and a strong wind, the track dries up rapidly. Around 3pm Max, Gustavo Menezes and Jules Szymkowiak hit the track with slicks. “It’s always tricky on a drying track as there are still a few wet spots here and there. At the first corner, the Tarzan, I tried to brake as late as I could and a few times I left it a bit too late.”

After a minor excursion in the gravel at the Tarzan, Max keeps on pushing. “I had a small trip into the gravel traps but I kept the car out of the barrier. Of course, you leave a margin for error but after a while, you start to push yourself a bit more. That’s part of the game.”

As the weather and track conditions continue to improve, the team are able to test well into the evening until 7pm. At the end of the day, Max lapped the Zandvoort track over 120 times. “During the entire afternoon we were able to run in dry conditions and it went very well. I am happy with both my speed and lap time. It’s always difficult to judge but I think we’ve been able to solve the issues that plagued me in Russia”, reveals Max.

“All in all it was a productive day. We managed to drive in both the wet and the dry so we’ve been able to test several set ups ahead of next weekend’s race at the Red Bull Ring. I heard that rain is predicted but I don’t really care what the weather will be. After today, I’m prepared for both”, concludes Max.