Sepang circuit to get slower final turn

2016 Malaysian Grand Prix

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Formula One drivers will tackle a revised and slower final corner at the Sepang International Circuit during October’s Malaysian Grand Prix.

The venue is being extensively resurfaced and upgraded following design work by Italian company Dromo.

Other corners, including turn two, are being resurfaced
A circuit representative confirmed to F1 Fanatic the layout of the final corner will remain much the same but alterations are being made to the entry kerb and camber.

The changes are being made to improve drainage – small rivers have formed at the corner during heavy rain in the past – reduce the speed of the corner and increase overtaking opportunities.

The full list of alterations to the track includes changes to “improve corner drive-ability in turns 1, 2, 4, 5, 7, 8, 9, 12 and 15”. They will also “upgrade the drainage system, the kerbs and the run-off area at turns 1, 4, 9, 12 15”.

The Sepang circuit has held the Malaysian Grand Prix since 1999 without any significant alterations to its 5.543 kilometre configuration. The changes have been made in consultation with the FIA and FIM (motorcycling federation) and their track inspections will take place before the World Superbike race at the track on May 15th.

Last week the track reported more than half of the “major works” had been completed since it was closed for the reconstruction work on February 15th.

Dromo designed the recent alterations to the Imola circuit in Italy and Autodromo Termas de Rio Hondo in Argentina. Designer Jarno Zaffelli said the final corner at Sepang will be a “completely new challenge for Moto GP riders and F1 drivers” and said changes at turn two will make overtaking moves “more likely”.

Thanks to @Zantkiller for the tip.

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    Keith Collantine
    Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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    31 comments on “Sepang circuit to get slower final turn”

    1. Trackmakers are making more slow corners and carmakers are making the cars faster in fast corners. The usual F1 stuff.

    2. A shame to modify it but there really was a need to improve drainage so probably for the best.

    3. If it’s purely from a drainage/racing hygiene point of view, I guess it’s a good step. But modifying the layout of a corner that was absolutely fine, is another classic example of let’s fix what’s not broken

      1. I was thinking the same thing. Sepang was one of my favourite circuits that usually generates good racing. I just hope they haven’t ruined it…

      2. nicomontinola
        24th April 2016, 1:27

        Every track has to be resurfaced. Its not really a major change but an improvement.

    4. “The changes … reduce the speed of the corner and increase overtaking opportunities.”

      I am not sure if a lower cornering speed contributes to more overtaking. It can also be in the contrary. Take the hairpin before the first straight at Abu Dhabi for example. The speed is so low that the leading car can accelerate much earlier than the following car. Earlier not in place, but in time. The following car is then still halfway through the turn. I am of the opinion that a medium speed corner contributes more to overtaking than a slow corner. Take Silverstone for example, the straight is shorter than Hungary but we also see plenty of overtaking.

      1. I don’t think the hairpin is the issue in Abu Dhabi it’s the entry is so slow due to the chicane before, a straight run from high speed into a hairpin in theory increases overtaking as the braking zone is larger so drivers take different approaches to braking allowing for the overtake. Lets see how the Malaysia change actually works but however it works if it is primarily for drainage it is hard to argue against.

      2. Michael Brown (@)
        21st April 2016, 12:53

        I think slow speed corners are good for overtaking, as they negate the dirty air effect. However, their effect becomes counterproductive when the slow corner is very long, like your example with the slow hairpin in Abu Dhabi.
        Examples of slow corners that do work include the double hairpins in COTA, turns 4 and the current final turn in Malaysia, and the first hairpin in China.
        Though I think the best corners for cars t follow each other are 3rd and 4th gear corners, like the chicanes in Australia and the right hander before the straight in Singapore.

      3. A very good point. Perhaps the Tilke track design philosophy is not even the best for overtaking. Slow corners prevent the second car from coming close enough to slipstream and, maybe just as important, they do not induce driver mistakes.

        Having said that, with DRS and Pirelli tires there is no need to make tracks more overtaking-friendly. I’d rather see slow corners being transformed into more challenging higher-speed corners.

        1. Slow corners are good at the end of a straight but rubbish at the start. The corner in Malaysia is at the end of a straight so may work but probably have a negative effect at the end of the following straight?

    5. I hate this trend of having slow, off-camber corners. I get the idea – make the corner slower, increase possibility of overtaking into the corner, slower speeds also reduce the effect on aero when following another car, and it also makes it more challenging for the drivers – but I do not think it works at all in practice.

      For example, look at Abu Dhabi. There are lots of off-camber corners at the Yas Marina Circuit, such as Turn 3, Turn 7 (hairpin on to first long straight), Turn 9 (turn on to second straight), and lots of the 90-ish degree corners in the last part of the lap. It is also known to be one of the most difficult places to overtake on the calendar. Yes, correlation does not mean causation, but I think in this case the off-camber corners are counter-productive.

      Another track which does this is Sochi, where many of the corners are off camber. This track has also proven to be difficult to overtake at, despite some very long straights. And Mexico City’s newly refurbished Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez – lots of off camber corners there too. The new, tight opening three corners I think are slightly off camber (not 100% sure), and I don’t remember seeing much overtaking in to Turn 4 despite a DRS zone. Again, the new esses are off camber, and while the straight that follows is short, I would have thought I’d see more passing into the corner leading into the baseball stadium.

      Now, let’s look at tracks where the opposite occurs. Spa is a great example – the positively-cambered first corner leads down to Eau Rouge (where we have seen some passing despite the lack of a braking zone), and then despite the huge downforce penalty of following a car through Eau Rouge, we see plenty of passing into Les Combes. Further around the lap, we find Blanchimont, a corner with lots of camber. You would expect that around such a fast corner, with a huge downforce penalty for the car behind, would not allow much passing at the end of the straight that follows. However, we see lots of passing into the bus stop – even without DRS! (Side note – I know Blanchimont and Eau Rouge are flat-out but for a following car I don’t think they are – and even if they are, Blanchimont certainly wouldn’t be flat-out if it was not cambered, so it’s still a relevant point).

      Another good example is Monza. Yes, Monza’s straights are long, but the cars run much less downforce than usual, so the slipstream effect is reduced. There are several positively cambered corners at Monza. One is the Parabolica – we see lots of passing into and out of this corner. We also see a fair amount of passing into the Ascari chicane, which is preceded by the positively-cambered Lesmo 2.

      Now, for the theory: I believe that positively-cambered corners are better for overtaking for four main reasons:
      1. They increase mechanical grip. This means that the downforce penalty for a following car is less significant, because a greater portion of the grip is provided mechanically.
      2. They are faster, which also allows a car to follow more closely (time-wise). Slower corners cause a concertina effect, meaning that even if cars are bumper-to-bumper (well, wing-to-wing) through a slow corner, they will become very spread out on the following straight. Of course, this makes overtaking more difficult.
      3. They give drivers more confidence. Go too deep into an off-camber corner, you’ll slide out way further than on a positively-cambered corner. I think positively-cambered corners generally make drivers more likely to have a lunge (or alternatively, off-camber corners make it more likely that a lunge will see the overtaking driver lose control and crash into their victim).
      4. This is related to the last point – they give drivers more lines, and the ability to go around the outside. To look at an extreme example, in NASCAR and IndyCar we often see on the big, fast, high-banked ovals (Fontana, Texas, Atlanta to name a few) that drivers can run multiple different lines and pass both inside and outside. Obviously, race craft in oval racing is quite different, but I think the principle still applies. When’s the last time you saw a driver drive around the outside of another car in an off camber corner?

      I’m sure some will disagree with me and I may be wrong, but this is what I think.

      1. I COMPLETELY and entirely agree with you, more than I’ve ever agreed with any comment.

        And it screams sad irony that all the off-camber circuits are, oh, the new ones that nobody likes! Yet they just keep building more thinking they’re some great challenge they’ve just discovered.

      2. Excellent post!

      3. Spot on!

      4. Michael Brown (@)
        21st April 2016, 20:03

        And Malaysia’s final corner was positively cambered, too. Not anymore.

        1. @mbr-9 This actually makes me want to cry. Seriously why the actual f” have they done that.

        2. Malaysian 1st corner was good so now they wrecked it? Did Schumacher help design the 1st few corners? He may know a few things about racing.

      5. Completely agree, with Suzuka’s hairpin being another example where multiple lines are actually viable due to the camber encouraging cars around corners instead of dragging them off.

        I don’t know why such corners are described as challenging for drivers. This is a sport where the drivers can drive circuits with their eyes closed (Alonso), and everything is calculated, simulated and practiced to the nth degree.

        Give the drivers a corner that rewards different approaches in different circumstances, instead of a single line that causes everyone to follow single file or end up running wide. I’d almost guarantee that it would produce better racing.

        1. Exactly!!!! What the is wrong with them? Some of the few corners left on the calendar not ruined. Are now ruined!

      6. Perfect conclusuion….

        Who in right mind would even make offcamber corners.. No natural track has that.

        That is why tilke tracks have a bad rep.

      7. Absolutely we are told for safety they do not like cambered corners so why off camber not the opposite? Off camber is supposed to be harder for the driver but gives less chance to overtake or set yourself up for the following straight. A right hand corner off camber unloads the inside tyres promoting understeer which is compounded by the aero effecting turn in. Reverse this and it will help turn in and give drivers more options.

      8. When I run F1 I will have this man design my new tracks.

    6. This makes me so angry.

      This was one corner that simply was not broken, and they’ve ruined it. Drainage needed improving yes, but there was no need to make it off-camber!! They’re such bad corners for F1!! Slower corners lead to more overtaking but more rubbish overtakes.

      And what have they done with turn 2? It’s hard to tell but of they’ve ruined it it’ll be a disgrace, it was already a great corner for racing.

      Why don’t they make positive camber corners? The Nurburgring is full of them and everybody goes on about how nice it is to race there, etc.

      1. I would point out that a positive camber corner would naturally divert water towards the inside of the track, negative camber towards the outside. I assume at that turn it’s better for the water to go away from the infield.

        1. If they built substantial drainage at the base of the corner it should pass through and not be an issue. I know that there are severe rainfalls here, but when that happens they normally stop the race anyway. It’s always a lot more fun on tracks that stay slippery and challenging when wet, rather than those which just make the cars go slower with no drama.

          1. Well they started messing the cambers in February ready for May so good news is if and when they see sense most tracks can be fixed in around 3 months. Tweaks like this may help far better racing than throwing hundreds of millions of pounds at new aero rules?

          2. Michael Brown (@)
            23rd April 2016, 0:31

            Sure, you could put drainage on the inside of a positively cambered corner, but the water will still pool up on the apex regardless, though at a smaller amount than usual. Drainage can’t make all the water disappear at once.

            So for clearing the track of water, off-camber is the best decision. I still say that positively cambered corners are the best choice, especially for slow corners. I also wonder about how the pit lane entrance will be affected, since it is on the outside of the current final corner.

    7. Michael Brown (@)
      23rd April 2016, 1:00

      I said above that the worst slow corners are the ones that you spend a long time in, like the hairpin in Abu Dhabi and the slow hairpins in Turkey. They break the flow and accentuate the accordion effect, because the driver ahead can accelerate much faster than the one behind can react.

      Solutions to corners like this include:

      1. Sharp 90 degree corners. Think the left hand 90 degree corner at the end of the back straight in COTA, or the 90 degree right hander at the end of the back straight in India.
      2. Wide exits, not entrances. Tilke liked to widen the entrances to increase lines going into the corner, but to increase the speed of a hairpin, make the exit wider. You can see this in the hairpins in China, and a high speed example in Monza’s Parabolica. Abu Dhabi’s hairpin has a ton of runoff on the exit, which I don’t see the point of on the exit of a slow corner. Why not extend the width of the exit into the runoff? Or maybe make the preceding chicane go right-left instead of left-right!
      3. Positive camber. @vmaxmuffin makes excellent points on camber in the corners. The best, I think, is that it allows for multiple lines throughout the corner, not just the entrance, which is what Tilke loves to do.

      Want to know the best hairpin in F1? As @sparkyamg posted, Suzuka’s hairpin works because of its camber. You don’t need to use the inside kerb, because the camber helps you even if you’re in the middle of the corner.

      Not only that, but the preceding corner, Degner 2 (before the crossover) is positively cambered. This, combined with the kink before the hairpin and the cambered nature of the hairpin itself, give us some exciting overtakes, or setups into Spoon (the different lines contributing to this).

    8. As a marshal at seoang circuit, I just want the time lap reduce to 1’15″…so we can see more action with more laps..

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