Zandvoort's 'element of surprise' will reward brave drivers

Circuit constructor Jarno Zaffelli says that the remodelled Zandvoort track layout will reward the bravest drivers, thanks to totally new features that teams won’t be able to reproduce in their simulators in time.

“Teams have the raw data, but they do not have the entire circuit. We will keep that data for ourselves for a while,” said Zaffelli who runs circuit design company Dromo.

“We do that because we do not want them to have all the time to simulate. That way there is an element of surprise in it,” he told Dutch publication Formule 1.

Zandvoort previously hosted 34 Dutch Grand Prix races between 1948 and 1985. Jim Clark took victory at the venue on four occasions, while the last winner was Ferrari’s Niki Lauda.

After extensive renovations and upgrades, the circuit returns to the F1 calendar this year after an absence of 35 years, thanks in large part to the soaring popularity of Red Bull’s Max Verstappen.

But today’s drivers face a very different circuit from the one driven by the likes of Clark and Lauda, with a remodelled steep curve named after original track designer John Hugenholtz and a new banked final corner titled in honour of Arie Luyendyk.

“We are changing a historical place in a number of parts and coming up with a turn, something that we have not seen for decades in Formula 1,” Zaffelli told De Telegraaf. “This is the project with the highest risk. For us, and also for the Formula 1 leadership and all those involved.

“According to our simulations, the drivers can go full speed through turn 2,” he said. “After that, it becomes very interesting to see which line they’re going to take in the Hugenholtz bend. The slope in that bowl bend exceeds the maximum of 18 degrees.

“This is really going to be a circuit for very brave drivers!”

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Zaffelli explained that the dramatic changes had been made in response to driver concerns the old track made overtaking problematic for modern F1 cars.

“[The drivers] are curious how they should tackle those bends and where they can catch up,” he acknowledged. “Many people will be skeptical. ‘Zandvoort is that circuit where you can’t overtake’, you hear. But that’s why we have been called in, to change that.”

Dromo previously renovated other world-famous circuits such as Silverstone and Imola, but Zaffelli admitted that Zandvoort had been a unique challenge for the company.

“Zandvoort is the most formidable that we have done so far. This is the circuit that has the most feeling, the most life.

“This is the first time for us that we have been working on a circuit built on sand,” he continued. “Zandvoort is unique. The dunes, the exit lanes, the wind and now also the two bends. The only thing I can compare to a little is Suzuka, in Japan.

“That is my personal favourite, a circuit that has everything and is also very popular with drivers. It is no coincidence that both Zandvoort and Suzuka were designed by Hans Hugenholtz.”

Despite the difficulties of the project, Zaffelli is confident that everything is still on schedule. “The facility should be open again at the end of February,” he confirmed.

“The curb stones are currently being installed, the basis of the circuit is already there. The only thing that is missing is the black stuff. We expect to start the asphalting at the end of this month.

“Everyone is very enthusiastic about Zandvoort and the expectations are enormous,” he added. “Every day, curious people fly drones over the circuit.

“The skepticism of many is mainly about accessibility. I’m not dealing with that, but I see people putting a lot of effort into it. I am convinced that everyone will be enthusiastic about the circuit.”

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Vietnam GP releases first pictures of pit complex

The Vietnam Grand Prix promoters have released the first images of the pit complex of the Hanoi circuit that will host in April the South Asian country’s first ever F1 race.

The new venue’s infrastructure was designed by Tilke Engineering, F1’s resident circuit architects, which have followed its usual practice of drawing their styling inspiration from local landmarks.

Crews are pressing ahead with the remainder of the construction work on the 5.6km layout which uses a mix of Hanoi’s existing streets and purpose-built sections inspired by some of F1’s most iconic venues such as Suzuka, Monaco and the Nürburgring.

“This is an important moment in the development of the Hanoi Circuit and another vital milestone in the lead up to Vietnam’s first ever F1 race weekend,” said Vietnam Grand Prix boss Le Ngoc Chi upon the completion of the track’s pit building.

“Like the Imperial Citadel of Thang Long and the Pavilion of the Constellation of Literature which have inspired the pit building’s design, we hope this structure will become another iconic Hanoi landmark.”

The bulk of the ongoing work should be completed by the end of January.

“With the track itself nearing completion and grandstands starting to go up as the event draws ever closer, the excitement levels for the Formula 1 VinFast Vietnam Grand Prix 2020 are rapidly growing. We are ready and we look forward to seeing you in Hanoi very soon,” said Le Ngoc Chi.

The Vietnam Grand Prix has been slotted in as the third round of the F1 World Championship and will take place on April 3.

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Miami county puts up a roadblock in front of F1

Miami-Dade County commissioners have just made it harder for Liberty Media to bring Formula 1 to their city, erecting a roadblock that gives local authorities the right to prohibit racing on public roads located around the Hard Rock Stadium.

As plans for a Miami Grand Prix taking place at the home of the NFL’s Dolphins grew clearer earlier this year, protests from local residents of Miami Gardens have grown louder.

On Tuesday, after hours of public hearings from all engaged parties, county commissioners passed a resolution that would prevent public road closures related to racing events in residential areas of Miami Gardens, a decision that virtually scraps F1’s proposed track layout.

Commissioners also passed a second ordinance requiring a large-scale public hearing among Miami Gardens residents to decide whether they want a race in the vicinity of their neighborhoods.

While both measures are aimed at derailing the process of bringing F1 cars to the Hard Rock Stadium and to its vast parking lot, Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos Gimenez has the theoretical power to veto both measures.

Gimenez pointed to the potential annual economic benefits, estimated at $400 million, delivered to the city by F1, and therefore urged residents, the Dolphins and race organizers to reach an agreement.

“Nobody is going to be 100 percent happy, but we need to come to a middle ground,” Gimenez said. “It is a world-class event, it is like having a Super Bowl here every year in Miami Dade County.”

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But the barrage of opposition to the event appears to be growing larger by the day, with former county commissioner Betty T Ferguson leading the resistance, underlining F1’s “deadly effects” linked to air and noise pollution.

“The majority of residents in Miami Gardens do not want to see F1 racing at Hard Rock Stadium, the Miami Gardens city council voted to oppose Formula 1,” said Ferguson.

“We have seen too often deep pockets paint rosy pictures and have their way, only to the embarrassment of the county at a later date. Don’t allow F1 promoters to come in and roll over us over, like we’re not even humans.

“They can produce all kinds of phony statements about how they can mitigate the deadly effects, but we can never erase deadly health damage, and possibly permanent hearing loss, especially to children. Even the county’s own study verifies the deadly effects.

“No permission for road closure or special events should be given to the Dolphins without full public hearing.”

That crucial public hearing is scheduled to take place in December.

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Formula 1 again facing residents' roadblocks in Miami

F1 has doubled down on its efforts to bring Grand Prix racing to the streets of Miami in 2021, but local residents are just as determined to not let it happen.

Liberty Media and the Hard Rock Stadium – the home of the Miami Dolphins – recently concluded a deal to set up a circuit on the Dolphins’ property located in Miami Gardens and organize an F1 Grand Prix in 2021.

However, like its previous botched effort to bring F1 to Florida which was centered around Miami’s Bayfront Park area, Liberty and local promoter Stephen Ross are confronted with a staunch opposition from local residents.

At a meeting of the Miami Gardens City Council on Wednesday, a group of residents clearly stated that they wanted nothing to do with Formula 1, citing concerns about noise and air pollution associated with the potential event.

“As a matter of good public policy and civic engagement, I would have expected that, for a project as monumental as this, there should have been better communication and coordination between community groups, elected officials and, most importantly, our residents,” said Miami gardens Vice-Mayor Erhabor Ighodaro.

Furthermore, County Commissioner Barbara Jordan how vowed to kill F1’s plans.

“There comes a time when you have to take a stand when you feel that something is not right,” she said, quoted by the Bradenton Herald.

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At Wednesday’s meeting, representatives of the Dolphins and Hard Rock Stadium were adamant that an F1 event would deliver significant economic, entertainment and employment benefits to the area.

The dialogue between the opposing sides is set to continue, but Formula 1 is aware that it is facing an uphill battle.

On its official Miami GP website, residents of Miami can voice their support for the event and fill in an online form that will be sent to their relevant local commissioner.

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FIA adds third DRS zone to Mexican GP track

To boost overtaking opportunities in next Sunday’s Mexican Grand Prix, the FIA has added a third DRS zone at the Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez circuit.

The detection point for the third and new DRS zone is located 70m after Turn 9, with activation set at 80m after Turn 11.

The following two zones share the same detection point – located at the exit of Turn 15 – and stretch from Turn 17 to Turn 1, and then from Turn 3 to Turn 4.

Lewis Hamilton has an opportunity to wrap up the championship next weekend if he scores 14 points than Mercedes teammate Valtteri Bottas.

However, the Briton is cautious on his chances of securing a sixth world title in Mexico, believing that Ferrari’s straightline speed might will pose a major challenge to the Scuderia’s rivals.

“I’m hoping for a better weekend, but I think it’s going to be very hard to beat the Ferraris with those long straights,” Hamilton said ahead of next weekend’s Mexican round.

“We have no hope of getting by on those straights, that’s for sure.”

Will a third DRS zone help Mercedes’ cause? Check back on Sunday.

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Grosjean: Track designers shouldn't copy classic corners

Haas driver Romain Grosjean says it’s a mistake for track designers to construct new, modern circuits by trying to reproduce features from existing classic venues.

“Replicating one track somewhere else is not the best solution, I believe,” said the Frenchman, who has taken part in 160 Grand Prix races since his debut in the 2009 European Grand Prix in Valencia.

“It’s much harder than it looks to build a track,” he conceded. “But some of the recent ones have been a bit not exciting, especially with the run-offs.

“It’s not what we want,” he told GPtoday.net this week.

The next new track to join the F1 calendar will be the Hanoi Street Circuit, which hosts the inaugural Vietnamese Grand Prix on April 5.

Designed with input from Hermann Tilke, organisers hope that the final sector of the new street circuit will remind drivers of the opening corners of Suzuka International Racing Course in Japan, which has held Grand Prix events since 1987.

The Circuit of the Americas in Austin, Texas, also sought to build corners reminiscent of some of the greatest F1 circuits such as Spa-Francorchamps. However it was the unique nature of COTA’s main straight that won Grosjean’s approval.

“Austin did a good job creating that first corner hill,” he said, adding that the circuit was also ageing well. “It’s quite cool, the tarmac breaking in Austin, it’s quite nice. It gives some character to the track.”

Stoffel Vandoorne (BEL) McLaren MCL33.

But designers are invariably having to take other factors into account when they come up with a new layout. To stay in business, circuits also have to appeal to other motor racing championships such as MotoGP that have different requirements to F1.

“There’s always a disagreement between what MotoGP wants and what we want,” Grosjean acknowledged. “That makes it harder.

“Some of kerbs we don’t want to change, but MotoGP would like the kerbs to be made a certain way,” he explained. “It’s always going to be tricky but I believe there is room for improvement.”

Among the tweaks, Grosjean suggested that the Sochi Autodrom circuit could benefit from a hairpin at turn 1 to cut down on drivers using team orders to slipstream into the first corner.

“Even looking at the designs of the tracks, you think: ‘Ah, I don’t think it’s going to be good, just because it looks that way, that way and that way.

“[Some changes could] make the racing better, and even the track better. There’s always a few small bits that you can try to modify to improve.”

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'Not much time' to get Hanoi ready, admits Tilke

Formula 1 circuit designer Hermann Tilke has revealed that race organisers are scrambling to be ready in time for next year’s inaugural Vietnam Grand Prix which is set to take place on April 5.

Since 1999, Tilke has been the engineer behind modern racing facilities including Sepang, Bahrain, Shanghai, Istanbul, and Yas Marina in Abu Dhabi. He also designed the new Circuit of the Americas race track in Austin, Texas in 2012.

Tilke has also been in charge of developing street circuits such as Marina Bay in Singapore, and Sochi Autodrom in Russia. Now he’s overseeing preparations in Vietnam where the Grand Prix will be held on a temporary street circuit in the capital city Hanoi.

“The latest project is in Hanoi and we hope to be ready for next year,” he told La Repubblica this week. “There’s not much time available, but we are used to that.”

The project involves the construction of two-thirds of the 5.56km track, with the rest made up of existing roads located near the city’s My Dinh stadium.

“The whole track has a nice combination of fast corners and long straights, so it will be difficult to find a good set-up for the teams,” Tilke said earlier this year.

The construction work also includes pit lane itself together with key supporting facilities. Building began in March and is scheduled to be completed by the end of the year.

That leaves just a little over three months before Formula 1 arrives for the first-ever Grand Prix in the country. But race organisers are confident that it will all go according to plan and envisage a long-term future for the event.

“Vietnam is the right country at the right time in the right place,” Vietnam Grand Prix Chief Executive Le Ngoc Chi told Reuters. “We are not the shooting star.

“We have to deliver this event successfully,” she insisted. “We didn’t just come on the scene to stay for one year.”

Hermann Tilke (GER) Circuit Designer.

Tilke himself has come under fire from fans and pundits for delivering ‘boring’ circuits. He explained that the tracks that he designed – including Hanoi – were inevitably the result of juggling pre-existing constraints and limitations in the initial choice of venue, over which he had little control.

“We never had a clean sheet of paper to start with,” he explained. “It’s always a piece of land that we do not own, so we need to respect cultural and historical traditions.

“Then there are the costs, with investors wanting multi-purpose facilities,” he pointed out.

“There are many limitations, one of them being the safety regulations that have evolved since the death of Ayrton Senna and are still evolving.”

Tilke said that he would love more input on track design from current drivers, adding that Michael Schumacher had been the most enthusiastic contributor in the past.

“I owe a lot to him,” Tilke said of Schumacher. “I showed him my first sketches and he always gave me a lot of his time, providing useful suggestions to improve them.

“Today some drivers help me, but none of them like Michael did.”

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Imola and Mugello 'considering bids' for F1 spot

After the success of the Italian Grand Prix on Sunday at the Autodromo Nazionale Monza, two other prestigious circuits in the country are reported to be thinking about making bids to hold future Formula 1 races.

Monza has just secured a five-year extension to its existing contract to hold a race at the Temple of Speed until 2024.

But with F1 bosses interested in expanding the calendar, that doesn’t rule out the possibility of another circuit in Italy holding an additional race – possibly under the historic San Marino or European Grand Prix marques.

Both Imola and Mugello are said to be considering just such a move.

Imola’s Autodromo Internazionale Enzo e Dino Ferrari has already played a big role in Formula 1 in the past, hosting the San Marino Grand Prix on 26 occasions between 1981 and 2006.

It was also the venue for the 51st Italian Grand Prix in 1980 when Monza was undergoing refurbishment.

Sadly, it was also where Ayrton Senna suffered his fatal crash in 1994, in what is considered to be one the blackest weekends in the recent history of the sport.

Seen by many as Ferrari’s true home circuit, Imola has recently completed a redevelopment program to return it to the FIA Grade 1 required to host a Grand Prix which included removing the final chicane.

Circuit chiefs have now contracted track design company Dromo to revamp Imola’s paddock hospitality facilities. A statement from the Imola management said that they were “ready to accept the challenge” of hosting a Grand Prix again.

Circuit president Uberto Selvatico Estense spoke of “the possibility, even at our historic racetrack, to see the red cars and the whole circus return.

“To achieve such a result it is essential to have the full support of regional and metropolitan institution,” he added.

Paul di Resta (GBR), Sahara Force India Formula One Team 03.05.2012.

In contrast, the Autodromo Internazionale del Mugello has never held an official F1 race, although it has hosted test sessions as recently as 2012. It’s best known as the venue for the motorcycling MotoGP event and supporting Moto2 and Moto3 races.

The circuit revealed on Tuesday that the annual activity at the track contributed almost 130 million euros to the local and regional economy across Tuscany in 2017, according to a new economic impact study.

Not surprisingly, Mugello chiefs would love to add to that by bringing F1 to the circuit for the first time, although for the time being their focus remains keeping on the MotoGP calendar.

“The first objective will be to renew the agreement with the MotoGP,” said Mugello circuit director Paolo Poli. “Then in five years we will also think about applying to bring Formula 1 to Tuscany.

“It should be remembered that unlike other Italian circuits, Mugello is not state-run,” Poli told Italian news agency Ansa.

“Partnerships will be necessary at national level, as Monza did by signing the agreement with F1 for the next few years.”

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Italian GP secures new five-year deal with F1

The Italian Grand Prix at Monza will remain on Formula 1’s calendar until at least 2024 confirmed on Wednesday ACI president Angelo Sticchi Damiani.

The event had been listed as “being finalized” on the sport’s 22-race calendar released by Liberty Media last week.

Sticchi Damaiani first shared the good news with the thousands of fans attending this afternoon’s Ferrari event on the Piazza Duoma in Milan dedicated to the 90th anniversary of the legendary manufacturer.

“It is just like winning a Formula 1 Grand Prix, a very hard and important one, fought to the finish line – which counts as not one but five titles,” said the president of the Italian automobile Club.

“It was a challenging journey to get to this outcome and is one of those race victories that makes us forget every risk, every effort, and leaves inside a great joy and an uncontrollable desire to celebrate.”

F1 CEO Chase Carey said: “This is one of four Grands Prix that were part of the 1950 championship and still features in the calendar and along with the British Grand Prix, it is the only one to have been held every year since then.

“History, speed and passion are words that motorsport fans associate with Monza. The feeling one gets at this Grand Prix is truly unique, as is the circuit’s distinctive podium.

“I would like to thank the ACI, especially its President, Angelo Sticchi Damiani for its efforts and this five year deal means that another part of the jigsaw for the Formula 1 of the future, is now in place.

“The championship features many historic venues such as Monza and also new countries in which the already vast fan-base of our sport can grow.”

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Brawn wants Silverstone to keep contract talks under wraps

Formula 1 is hopeful of extending Silverstone’s British Grand Prix contract beyond 2019, but talks must remain secret insists F1 executive Ross Brawn.

This weekend’s event was a resounding success with an estimated 140,5600 fans attending the British Grand Prix, according to a report from Reuters.

Silverstone’s initial contract with Formula 1, brokered by former supremo Bernie Ecclestone, was set to run until 2026.

But rising costs linked to an annual 5 percent increase of Silverstone’s franchise fee took their toll on the BRDC, the circuit’s owners, deciding the venerable motorsport institution to exercise last year its right to a break clause allowing for a premature end to the deal.

Asked by Sky F1 on Sunday about the prospects of keeping the British Grand Prix on the calendar, Brawn offered an optimistic response, but with one caveat.

“I’m sure we’re going to find a solution with Silverstone because we cannot leave this behind,” he said.

“The frustration is the negotiations are taking place in public,” he added.

“Every circuit we deal with, we do it quietly and get on with it, but for some reason Silverstone chooses to make everything public, which causes more difficulties. But we’ll find a solution.”

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