This weekend marks the first Dutch Grand Prix since 1985 around an upgraded Zandvoort track that had undergone several major changes, most notably the addition of banking at three corners.

Turn 1 (Tarzanbocht), Turn 3 (Hugenholtzbocht) and Turn 14 (Arie Luyendijkbocht) have all been re-profiled to welcome the return of grand prix cars around the fast, flowing circuit.

While the majority of the field has previous experience driving at Zandvoort in Formula 3, only Max Verstappen has ever driven the heavily renovated circuit in F1 machinery, though that was during a promotional show run event for Red Bull.

After getting their first taste of the revised Zandvoort on Friday, the drivers were full of praise for the venue.

“Oh man, that track is epic,” said Lewis Hamilton. “It’s really fantastic.

“It brought so many memories when I first got out there when I was driving here because I knew it was great when I was in Formula 3 but it’s crazy in a Formula 1 car.

“The speed we’re going through Turn 7, it’s a real racing circuit.”

His Mercedes teammate Valtteri Bottas agreed, adding: “I hope it’s good fun to watch, because it’s definitively good fun in the car. Tomorrow will be fun in qualifying and even today I really enjoyed it.

“There’s banked corners and also many different corner sections here, especially the speed through the Sector 2 corners, so I enjoyed it.”

Red Bull’s Sergio Perez said he enjoyed the challenge posed by the “old school” circuit, which has limited run-off and gravel beds lurking around many of its twisting corners.

“It’s pretty awesome out there,” he explained. “It’s an old school circuit, you really need that confidence going into the sessions to be able to trust the car, [knowing] what the car is doing every single time out there.

“It’s been pretty challenging, also the long run, physically as well, it’s on the hard side because you have so many right hand corners consecutively.

“It’s a pretty unique challenge, very different to the tracks we have been to. Tomorrow is so important that I just hope we are able to get the best out of it.”

Despite only having limited running in FP2 after an engine issue curtailed his opening practice session, Sebastian Vettel called on F1 to adopt more corners like Zandvoort’s banked turns.

“We should have more of that, cambered corners [that] are positive, and not off camber,” the Aston Martin driver said.

“Off camber they do for water drainage, but it’s very boring because you lose grip.

“[Positive cambered corners] I think look exciting and feel exciting in the car as well.

“The bits they changed, I think they changed for the better. I think it’s very exciting with the banking, so yeah, not quite clear which line to take yet, but have a little bit more time tomorrow.”

AlphaTauri racer Pierre Gasly was also impressed by the banking, describing Turn 3 as “pretty insane”.

“On TV, all the bankings are always smaller, and when you get in the car it is always more impressive,” Gasly said.

“Especially Turn 3 is pretty insane. It’s like sliding into a toboggan or a similar feeling, but with an F1 car at such speed it’s quite unique.

“Driving-wise it’s unbelievable, I’m really enjoying it but I will enjoy it even more if we are a couple of tenths faster so we’ll try and find that tomorrow.”

Carlos Sainz, who ended the day second-fastest behind Ferrari teammate Charles Leclerc, beamed: “I loved it, to be honest.

“It was a different Friday, just learning a new track, but also learning different kind of corners that we had never experienced before.

“Learning how to drive them, experimenting with driving lines, just made it to be a different kind of feeling.

“A different kind of Friday which in a 22, 23-race season it’s always nice to have different Fridays.”

Meanwhile, Lando Norris said conducting some running in McLaren’s simulator proved to be a useful exercise in his bid to get up to speed with the physically demanding circuit.

 “Not an easy track for sure,” he explained.

“From what we had on the simulator to what it’s actually like is relatively similar, which is a good thing. We’ve done a good job with the sim.

“I guess it’s always tricky because in the simulator you don’t feel the G force. So especially around the back turn seven, turn eight, turn nine you’re constantly turning right. It’s punishing on the front-left tyre. Physically you start to feel it quite a bit and it’s extremely quick.

“You don’t have that sensation in the simulator so when you come here, you really get to feel it. And it’s a bit of a shock the first few laps you do. But once you get into it, it’s just a cool feeling.”

Williams’ George Russell said Zandvoort provided the drivers with “what we all want from race tracks.”

“It was a great experience driving this circuit,” he added. “It’s a driver’s favourite. It’s very undulating – all this new banking is a great new experience.

“Fast, flowing, you can’t really put a wheel wrong. So I think that’s what we all want from race tracks.”

While all the drivers acknowledged that overtaking will be difficult in the race, there are overwhelmingly excited about the prospect of qualifying.