Hello sim racers,
Today is a day of Zandvoort celebrations, a day to bask in the glory of all things Dutch Grand Prix as we release our massive new build update for the 2021 Zandvoort Grand Prix Circuit within rFactor 2 – completely rebuilding the existing track to better conform with the latest changes and layout design ahead of the return of the Dutch Grand Prix to the Formula One schedule following an absence of 36 years.
Zandvoort 2021 | Steam Workshop: CLICK HERE
For a long time, Zandvoort has been the premier car racing circuit in the Netherlands, having played host to a wealth of National and International grade events since last hosting Formula One racing in 1985. Thanks to the unique beachside setting and a range of technical corners and interesting sectors, the circuit has remained a firm favourite amongst drivers and fans alike, despite often producing processional racing in part due to the narrow racing surface, and lack of significant overtaking opportunities.
With interest in Formula One racing in the Netherlands having exploded in recent years thanks to the rise of Dutch star Max Verstappen, and with the FIA keen to find a way to accommodate the incredible levels of support for the 23-year-old Red Bull driver, it was always something of an inevitability that the Dutch Grand Prix would return to the schedule sooner rather than later. However, without any real serious options to host a race on the existing track infrastructure at Zandvoort, and with Assen firmly considered a bike racing circuit, the Dutch authorities found themselves forced to introduce considerable changes to the venue in order to be able to successfully host the long awaited return of Grand Prix into the future.
What’s new in this build?
Unfortunately, due to the ongoing global pandemic, the return of the Dutch Grand Prix has had to be delayed for a further year into 2021, which has given us here at Studio 397 the perfect opportunity to revisit our free Steam Workshop track ahead of the big event, with a view to bringing the track up to par with the quality of our more recent releases. Initially planned as a full PBR graphics refresh, once we got started we quickly realized the potential existed to look again at the core fundamentals of the way we originally build the first version of the circuit, and the closer we looked at the existing build, the more opportunities for improvement we found – leading us to practically rebuilding the entire track to include more details, more accuracy and an overall better wholesale performance and driving experience than would have been possible if we simply applied PBR treatment to the existing model.
Night Lighting and configuration improvements
The track team here at Studio 397 have worked wonders with this new build, adding significant amounts of new and improved detail around the whole of the 4.259 km venue – from the smallest touches to more signifiant and obvious improvements that best reflect how the circuit looks now the layout changes have had time to establish themselves in the real world. Night lighting has been reviewed thoroughly, and offers a great endurance racing experience for drivers looking to get out on track once the sun has set. Additionally, we’ve spent plenty of time sifting through tons of data and reference materials to ensure the actual layout and corners are as accurate as possible to the real world venue, something we have been able to review and adjust now thanks to the ‘new’ Zandvoort having been open to the public for an extended period of time – a luxury we certainly didn’t have at the point of our original release!
New layout – Zandvoort National
One of the immediately noticeable changes for this new update is the introduction of a brand-new layout, as we bring to the simulation the shorter National configuration for the first time. Used primarily for local level small scale events, the National track offers a compelling experience for cars with lower overall performance, adding additional overtaking opportunities with the introduction of a difficult hairpin right connecting the first and third sectors, whilst missing out the fast backstretch of the Grand Prix Circuit that incorporates the Shelvalk – Mastersbocht – Bocht 9 – Bocht 10 complex of corners.
New trackside Assets
For both the Grand Prix and National layouts, the track team here at Studio 397 have worked hard to introduce a full race weekend vibe to the track, from adding an array of new trackside furniture, spectator setups and support worker assets, to generally bringing about the race weekend feel that was lacking from the original release, the changes introduced today as part of the 2.50 build update should add together to vastly improve the overall ambience and experience of running on the circuit in a simulated race environment.
New PBR shader update
Anyone who has been around the world of rFactor 2 for a while will surely be fully aware of our PBR (physically based rendering) shader technology by now. Having committed to using this technology for all new content releases over the last couple of years, we have also remained hard at work reviewing and updating our expansive collection of existing content, with what we believe to be very impressive results as we uplift the visual aspect of rFactor 2 to modern standards.
As can be evidenced by the recent update of our USF2000 or the Sebring International Raceway track, adding PBR shaders marks a significant improvement to the visual experience within the simulation – and with this latest Zandvoort release, that improvement is immediately noticeable to the end user. Simply put, we have reworked every aspect of the circuit and surrounding scenery with the latest PBR materials, which has produced a greatly increased level of graphical appeal across the full weather and time of day spectrum within the simulation. We believe that Zandvoort has turned out to be one of our very best looking tracks following this update, and we can’t wait to see what you think about the visual changes!
New pit buildings and grandstands
Alongside adding PBR materials to the track, we also took the opportunity as part of this build update to completely rework some of the more substantial trackside buildings that make up the unique image of Zandvoort. Developed from scratch, our track artists have created a completely new set of pit buildings to match the current Zandvoort venue in real life, replacing the original structures with an all new build. Additionally, new grandstand structures have been created and inserted into the surrounding areas of the venue, with new spectators and trackside vehicles added into the scene for an immersive race day experience.
Zandvoort 2021 V2.50 Update Notes:
- Complete update and rebuild of Zandvoort to track state in July 2021, including curb colours and reported DRS zones at the time.
- Any adjustments since July 2021 will be addressed in a post release update.
- Major rework of terrain to conform to point cloud data.
- All major assets rebuilt from scratch including Pit Building, Grandstands and more.
- Barriers remodelled and updated to the latest state.
- Added various grandstands and props to simulate a reasonably large event.
- All new foliage objects and materials.
- All latest new PBR materials.
- Added new spectators, marshals, rescue vehicles, generic vehicles, tents and more.
- New Night lighting Configurations including lit up Grandstand, Pit Building and Town Centre.
- Added 2021 National Layout.
- New Camera Files.
- New AI Files.
- Packed extra files for upcoming loading optimizations.
As we are sure you will be able to tell from this release post and the videos embedded within the article, we are justifiably proud of the work we have undertaken to uplift this circuit to 2021 standards, and we feel that as a predominantly Dutch company ourselves, we now have a version of our home circuit that we can be rightly exceptionally proud to call our own, and one that we truly believe will be loved in equal measure by our many members of the sim racing community.
We cannot wait to see your reactions once you get out onto the circuit for yourselves, and we hope you have as much fun racing the track as we did building it! If you aren’t one of the lucky ones able to secure a much sought after ticket to the 2021 Dutch Grand Prix, fear not, as racing around this track in rFactor 2 is the next best thing!