Tag Archives: Circuits

Bahrain GP to switch to old layout for 2011

The Bahrain Grand Prix venue will revert to its old layout for the 2011 races onwards, the organisers announced today. This came after the 2010 race was raced on the new “endurance” layout, which included a new section, but was considered a complete failure by many.

The Bahrain International Circuit, which will revert to its original layout for 2011

The Bahrain International Circuit, which will revert to its original layout for 2011

The endurance section was initially touted as a chance for overtaking opportunities, according to the circuit organisers, which was clearly going to fail as it as twisty and narrower than the rest of the track. Now that the orignal layout has been revived, the length of the track will fall from 6.299km to 5.412km.

Shaikh Salman Bin Isa Al Khalifa of the Bahrain International Circuit explained the decicion:

"One of the major tasks we undertook to mark this milestone 
(60th anniversary of F1, start of 2010) was implementing 
changes to our FIA approved track layout, giving the 
participating teams of the Bahrain Grand Prix a completely 
new challenge.

It was an enormous task given the time frame we had to 
implement it, but one that demonstrated Bahrain's 
characteristics as a race promoter prepared to continually
 ake changes designed to heighten the awareness and 
increase the levels of presentation associated with the 
sport of Formula 1."

What he means, I think, is that the new endurance circuit was designed as a new challenge, as well as changing the characteristics of the track to benefit overtaking. Since that clearly didn’t work this year, as overtaking was as rare as rain in Bahrain, there really wasn’t much point in retaining the lengthened track.

New York 2012 race plans revealed – and it may be at night

The planned circuit for the 2012 New York Grand Prix

The planned circuit for the 2012 New York Grand Prix

The plans for the 2012 New York Grand Prix have been revealed, which will be based around Liberty State Park.

The planned track is in Jersey City, is 5.79km (3.6 miles) long, and the event orgainsers have said that they plan to hold the event at night. However, the plan has already come under fire from a local environmental group.
The organisers had this to say:

"With the incredible backdrop of the New York City skyline,
selecting Jersey City for the 2012 Grand Prix Auto Race
Circuit will not only boost ticket sales as the Grand Prix
returns to the United States, but will providing striking
television footage. To maximize the dramatic effect, Jersey
City could possibly follow in Singapore’s footsteps by
holding the finals at night.

Pictured below is a generic circular circuit through Liberty
State Park, which covers a distance of 3.6 miles, the area
would provide the least impact to city functions, and the
greatest possible space to accommodate ticket holders. As
the park has 1,212 acres, with a significant portion dedicated
open space, amble viewing facilities can be erected, with the
potential to hold the largest spectator audience on record.

There are multiple ways to carve out the interior to make the
course challenging with tight turns, great straights, plenty of
options to place the pit, run off zones, team facilities, media
center, and of course the paddock area."

I’ll be blunt – I really don’t like the design. First of all, there is no proper straight, which would lead to absolute minimal overtaking from the start. Secondly, the south section of the track looks like a complete mess, kind of like Fuji Speedway. It just appears like a random sprawl of slow corners, with occasionally quick left-handers thrown in. I’d say that, in this location, this is the only layout that would be possible.

And thirdly, do they really think that they can just blast an F1 race into a national park? And I mean that quite literally – just look to the right of the Liberty Science Centre. The track plan is going straight through the park, and I can’t see the locals being too pleased with an F1 track in the middle of their park. Friends of Liberty State Park agree, saying:

"Whomever has proposed it to Formula I has no clue about the true 
purposes of LSP or about the park’s history of battles to protect 
public access. LSP is not a city property to rent out for the 
weekend and take away from public users who need it more than ever 
for the quality of their lives. LSP is a park for the people and 
is not a commercial venue. It’s arrogant for anyone to consider 
this use for our green haven."

And fourthly, the circuit orgainsers aren’t exactly doing all of the work themselves. Here is the list of what they want Formula One Managment (Bernie Ecclestone’s company) to do:

Planning, developing, logistics, marketing, and all necessary 
preparations to effectively carry out the event.
Structures for media center, paddock and VIP areas, temporary 
meeting rooms, security control tower, pit areas, team facilities, 
clubs, visitor welcome center, hospitality tent, and all other
necessary structures.
Providing ample portable facilities for visitors.
Obtaining all the necessary permits and licenses required to hold the event.
All equipment needed to stage the race as well as staffing.

I’m not a circuit planner, but isn’t that a massive amount of work they are trying to lob towards someone else? I also noticed something else – where are they going to put the pit lane, paddock and media centre? It’s a park, you can’t just exactly blast through it. And, how do they plan to illuminate the entire park and circuit at night?

There’s a lot that I’ve just given out about, but I just don’t feel that this plan can work. What do you think? Is it possible to hold a night race in the middle of a national park in a city?

New Silverstone Arena circuit opened

The official opening of the new Silverstone Arena circuit

The official opening of the new Silverstone Arena circuit

The new Silverstone Arena circuit has been fully unveiled for the first time.

The Duke of York opened the track formally, and was then driven around in a 2-seater F1 car by Damon Hill. David Coulthard and Mark Webber were the drivers on hand.

The track now differs near the end of the lap, where drivers will now take a fast right at Abbey. After a left sweep (Farm), there will be a sharp heavy-braking corner called Village, followed by a pair of left-handers called The Loop. The straight between Farm and Village is called Ireland (Woo!). The cars will then go onto the National Straight, before re-entering Brooklands corner.

Mark Webber was impressed by the new layout, and also thought it would suit the Red Bull RB6:

"I think the track will suit our car. We’re competitive at all
circuits at the moment, and the new section has high-speed and
low-speed corners. It’s also got some undulation which is hard
to see we’ll definitely notice it in the F1 cars."

David Coulthard was the first person to drive on the track, with the Red Bull running showcar. He is impressed with how the circuit has kept its high-speed nature:

"It’s very fast on the way into Abbey. But we still have all
the hallmarks of the original circuit. The corners are very
high speed and some of the entries are blind because it’s
built on an airfield."

Damon Hill praised the construction crew for working so swiftly, even though the winter snow delayed construction work for several weeks in December and January. He said that “The team have done a fantastic job under very difficult circumstances.” He was also relieved that the British Grand Prix now has a secure future, after getting a 17-year contract with Bernie Ecclestone:

"We’re very happy we’ve beaten down Mr Ecclestone as far as
possible to get as good a deal we can on this ten year contract,
with a potential extension for 17 years. We are now the only
private enterprise running a Grand Prix.

Now we have a new circuit for a new generation of people to
enjoy motor sport the way we think they should."

I’m already delighted, but the best is yet to come. Richard Philips, Silverstone’s managing director, explained why they chose Populous to design the circuit rather than Herman Tilke. He said that “We’ve had good, solid input from riders and drivers – people who are not going to wreck what is already a fantastic circuit.” Well put! Tilke has had his chance with every circuit in the last few years, and none are in the top half of the tracks in the F1 calendar. It’s about time that another company has had a try at designing an F1 circuit, and I do think that Populous (who did the Dubai Autodrome) have done a great job at Silverstone.

This new Arena circuit was actually developed for MotoGP rather than Formula 1, but I’m sure that F1 races here will still be excellent. One thing though: The start/finish line and pits for the F1 races will actually be moved to the straight after Club corner, but not for a few years. I’m not sure why this was considered necessary.

Pictures from the launch:

David Coulthard does a burnout on the new Silverstone Arena Circuit

David Coulthard does a burnout on the new Silverstone Arena Circuit

Village and The Loop corners on the Silverstone Arena Circuit

Village and The Loop corners on the Silverstone Arena Circuit

David Coulthard driving on the Silverstone Arena Circuit

David Coulthard driving on the Silverstone Arena Circuit

Silverstone Arena Circuit layout

Silverstone Arena Circuit layout


The full Silverstone Arena Circuit

The full Silverstone Arena Circuit

The full Silverstone Arena Circuit

The full Silverstone Arena Circuit

Ecclestone to cut older races

Bernie Ecclestone

Bernie Ecclestone

Bernie Ecclestone has said that he is ready to cut older race venues from the Formula 1 calendar, in order to make way for the new proposed races in New York, Moscow and Rome.

The Korean Grand Prix joins the list this year, and India in 2011. With New York, Russia and Rome all tipped for places in 2012 and 2013, Ecclestone has said that older races will have to be cut. In an interview with Autocar, he said:

We’re going to lose some races for sure, there are some races we can afford to
lose without too much problem. I’ve spoken to the countries to see what we can
come up with.

This was to be expected. With 2 races joining in the next 2 years, without other races being dropped the calendar would be raised to a record-breaking 20 races per season. If New York, Russia and Rome all get through scrutineering, that means there must be around 4 or 5 venues that must be dropped.

I like change in Formula 1, and there’s a few circuits I’d like to see go. Valencia is the most obvious, as it simply cannot produce anything interesting, and also had difficulties repaying their contract to Ecclestone, because of low ticket sales last year. Barcelona could well be a target because, though attendance is high, it is not the most characteristic of circuits.

Another one is the Hungaroring. While it is the only race in Eastern Europe, the circuit is neither a challenge to the car or the driver, apart from the high temperatures. Overtaking is also extremely difficult, and I doubt there’s much cash in the hands of the race organisers. Now personally, I’d like the Shanghai circuit to go, since the races aren’t great, the organisers cannot keep up the payments either, and attendance is very low, with empty grandstands littering the circuit.

After this, the Bahrain Grand Prix should go, since the racing is terrible, and the circuit organisers were pure arrogant earlier this year, by claiming the new sector would increase overtaking, when they knew bloody well it wouldn’t. Also, the German Grand Prix should be either the Hockenheimring (old one please) or the Nurburgring, not alternating between them.

I would hope that at least 3 of those races will go in the next few years. But what do you think?  Have a say in the new poll:

Rome Grand Prix confirmed for 2013

Formula 1 commercial rights holder Bernie Ecclestone has confirmed that there will be a Rome GP from 2013 onwards. This will see the F1 calendar expanding to 20 races, the highest ever.

Last year, it seemed that Ecclestone was drifting away from the idea of having a street race in Rome, but a deal seems to have been made, according to Ecclestone:

"Rome will come into the programme for 2013. We will have 20 races 
and the teams will be happy with it."

Another street circuit, oh goody. That was Monaco’s idea, now we already have 4 imitations (Canada and Australia technically count), and there’s another one on the horizon. Only 2 of these races are any good, and Ecclestone doesn’t seem to like either of them. I’m sure you’re wondering will this circuit be able to match Canada and Australia, and here’s your answer: It’s being designed by Herman Tilke. You know what that means.

Even if the tifosi come out in force (almost definitely), I can’t see this circuit having any heart in it, and I’m saying this a year before we will even see drafts of the track design.

But, there’s a much more serious problem. The organisers of this race, and many others, seem to be implying that this is an attack on the Monza race. I can’t find a link for this, but I will add it as a separate post in due course. In summary, the organisers want only 1 Italian Grand Prix,and of course it’s the Roman one. I’m telling you now, if Monza if thrown off, Ecclestone is a dead man. Not by me, of course, by the thousands – millions, even- of livid Italians living in the north. This will hardly end well.

New photos of Korean track development

The planned layout for the Korean Grand Prix

The planned layout for the Korean Grand Prix

The Korean Grand Prix will make its debut this year, and preparations are well underway.

At the moment, a few grandstands have been partially set up, and the pit area is also getting along well. The various centres have been the most developed, and should be completed within a few months. While the track is nowhere ready, you can see the outline of it in the photos.

From this, there doesn’t seem to be too much worry about it not being ready in time. However, that’s not to say that the track will actually be any good. I really don’t like the look of it, as it seems to be completely flat and lifeless, and the corners are all in a mess. It just doesn’t fit together at all. Overtaking opportunities? Only one, and it’s a long straight in between two (surprise surprise) heavy braking zones.

To top it all off, you’ll never guess who designed it. Put your hands together for (drum roll)…. Herman Tilke. The only decent circuit he’s ever made is Turkey, and that place is more expensive than La Rascasse.

A preview of the Grand Prix is available here:

New development pictures are available here:

Abu Dhabi circuit sold to government

The Yas Hotel, right in the middle of the Yas Marina circuit

The Yas Hotel, right in the middle of the Yas Marina circuit

Yas Island, which includes the Yas Marina circuit, has been sold off by Aldar Properties to the Abu Dhabi government.

Note that this is not just the circuit, but also the other features on the island as well. On Gulf News, Aldar’s chief financial officer Shafqat Malek said:

“This includes roads, utilities on the Yas Island, Yas Marina Circuit which is home to the Formula 1 race track, Yas Marina and the Yas Yacht Club.”

“The sale will improve Aldar’s liquidity position and help the company settle its debts this year of around Dh4.5 billion (about £ 720 million),” said Nabil Farhat, partner with Al Fajer Securities. “They will also have enough cash to complete their projects.”

The Yas Marina project is a $36bn development project by Aldar Properties. 1,700 hectares of the 2,500 have been claimed for development. This development includes a Warner Bros. Movie World (a theme park), Ferrari World (another theme park), the famous Yas Marina hotel, a water park, the Yas Mall, golf courses, lagoon hotels, and much more. And the Formula 1 circuit of course!

It was such a huge project, it was named the World’s leading tourism project at the World Travel Awards in November 2009. However, Aldar Properties has invested far too much into development projects over the United Arab Emirates, around $78bn. Therefore, the property crash in the UAE has prompted them to sell off their assets, to stay afloat. It is unclear whether the Abu Dhabi government will keep the Yas Marina facilities or not, but I’d say they will sell it off in a few years.

Just a thought: Paris Grand Prix?

A few days back, I said that I would be going off to Paris for a few days. User pickle92 suggested that I keep a look out for ideas for the new French GP while I was there. At first, it didn’t seem like it could be done, having a Paris GP, but I noticed a few things while I was there. Just be aware that this is all my personal musings and nothing near what will ever be planned for an F1 circuit…

We were on buses a lot of the time, and I found out that many of the boulevards are certainly wide enough for an F1 circuit. At the moment, nowhere near flat enough, but this can be changed. It turns out that many of the roads in Paris in the 19th century were widened by Napoleon the 3rd, to prevent assasination attempts on his carriage. The roads have changed little since, so they are probably wide enough.

One of these examples is the Rue de la Vilette, about 2 miles away from the Champs Elysées, and just inside the Boulevard Périphérique. The current road is lined with trees on either side, so it’s not lacking in terms of scenery. Now, of course, safety regulations would mean that this would have to be adjusted a bit to make it safer, but it may still be a scenic straight to race on.

Also, my design would incorporate the Rue de Flandres. Now, I’ll be honest, it’s not the best place to be! However, the tree lining is still in place for part of the straight. Also, afterwards, the circuit would move onto a small section of the Boulevard Périphérique. The corner connecting the two is similar to the Curva Parabolica, except a bit sharper in turn-in. After a short straight, it would branch off into the Parc de la Butte Rouge, which would feature a long chicane, to slow the cars after the two straights. The track would then turn quickly right, then a slow 90 degree right corner, leading onto the longest straight (1.4 miles), on the Rue de Belleville.

After this, there would be a hard braking zone, another 90 degree right, as an overtaking opportunty. The circuit would then rejoin the Rue de la Vilette, where there would be two right jinks before rejoining the Rue de la Flandres.

I’ve already stated that this is nowhere near a properly planned F1 circuit, but since I was in Paris, I decided I might as well give it a try. There are many obvious problems with this design though. Grandstands would be impossible to place, for example. Also, as Paris goes, there are more glamorous places to go. Still, I was staying in that area, and I figured I might as well incorporate the place into the design.

The map of the circuit is availble at http://www.gmap-pedometer.com/?r=3468133. It’s just my plans laid out on Google Maps, but let me know what you think anyways. If you have any designs for circuits yourselves on gmap-pedometer, post the link here and we can all compare.

Picture of my design:

Sutil: F1 too safe for its own good

Adrian Sutil in Abu Dhabi

Adrian Sutil in Abu Dhabi

Adrian Sutil has hit out against the Yas Marina circuit in Abu Dhabi, branding it “safe but boring”.

In an interview with The Times of India, he said of the circuit:

“It was just straight and really, really boring. But I probably cannot say anything bad about it for it’s safe, like what all modern circuits should be.”

His opinion didn’t stop at the Yas Marina circuit, saying that many drivers felt that F1 was losing its thrill, because of boring circuits. He stated:

“The majority of the drivers feel this way. Of course there are a few who like the way it is, safe. There will always be different opinions about it but most of them would say there can be some changes in the circuits.”

“”Everyone loves driving because there is thrill in it. If it was not dangerous, maybe so many drivers would not be doing it.”

“Maybe there are certain risks in it but if you don’t take those risks, it would get boring. Circuits are getting too safe and driving is not so nice anymore.”

The Indian Grand Prix is scheduled for 2011, and Sutil hopes that the designers will listen to him, and put in fast and challenging corners. Unfortunately, the draft layout by Herman Tilke last November seems to indicate many slow corners, such as hairpins and chicanes.

In my opinion, we need a wide variety of circuits on the F1 calendar. Slow and difficult to overtake circuits like Monaco and Hungary should stay, while we also need high-speed challenges like Spa, Brazil and Monza. A few medium circuits like Turkey, Malaysia and China should stay also. Because of the new tracks coming in in the next few years, Barcelona should probably go.