Dutch Grand Prix organisers to clamp down on ‘dangerous’ orange flares

Henry Valantine
Max Verstappen drives past a stand full of fans. Dutch Grand Prix

Red Bull driver Max Verstappen waves at his adoring fans who have let off flares in the Red Bull Grandstand.

Dutch Grand Prix organisers say they are going to look to clamp down on the use of flares at Zandvoort this weekend, with the race’s director branding them “dangerous” for drivers and fans alike.

Fans of Max Verstappen have been known for cladding themselves in one colour, and the ‘Orange Army’ have gone a step further in recent years by setting off flares after, and sometimes during, races in support of their favourite driver.

Now, though, the smoke that comes from them is becoming an issue for the fans and drivers, and circuit officials at Zandvoort are looking to avoid them coming into the Dutch Grand Prix this weekend.

Dutch Grand Prix to try and halt flares, ‘dangerous for the drivers’

While the sight of a cloud of orange makes for a spectacle on the TV cameras, on a practical level it makes for an altogether different experience for the drivers.

Verstappen himself criticised fans at Zandvoort last year for setting off flares at an inappropriate time after one fan caused a red flag by throwing a flare onto the track in Q2, while Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff went one step further and branded those who did so “total idiots.”

Fans with flares have continued to show up in support of their favourite driver however, but they have been reminded ahead of Verstappen’s home race that they will be heavily advised against bringing them.

“Because of the popularity of the sport and Max, fans brought in these flares in Austria a few years ago,” Dutch Grand Prix director Imre van Leeuwen told Motorsport.com.

“The image looked great on TV, and they shot footage with the flares so a normal fan, not a hooligan but a normal fan, thinks he is a good fan if he brings a flare.

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“And now you see that there are so many that it’s dangerous, and it’s not good for your health.

“We have to inform the people now you’re not a good fan if you have a flare, you’re a good fan if you don’t have a flare. And if you see a flare you say, ‘Come on guys, this is dangerous for my health.’

“This is also dangerous for the drivers because I think two years ago during the formation lap in Austria, the drivers had poor vision. And that was something that a normal fan did not know.

“They just saw two guys with a flare and then there were four guys and then eight and 16 and 32. And now we have to bring it down.”

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