Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes, Circuit de Catalunya, 2018

Catalunya explains £2.68m resurfacing Hamilton called a “waste of money”

2018 F1 season

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The Circuit de Catalunya spent £2.68 million (€3m) on a new surface and other track changes which Lewis Hamilton last week described as a “waste of money”.

But the circuit operators told RaceFans the first new surface laid on the course for 14 years was demanded by Moto GP. Deputy general manager Aman Barfull said the previous surface was still suitable for F1 cars.

Sebastian Vettel, Ferrari, Circuit de Catalunya, 2018
2018 pre-season testing day five in pictures
“From our point of view the surface of the circuit asphalt is OK for one or two years more,” he said. “But for motorcycles, the Moto GP, they don’t agree with our asphalt. It’s bumpy.”

Moto GP eventually said the resurfacing was “compulsory” in order to keep its popular round at the track, Barfull explained. The Moto GP race is more lucrative for the circuit than its grand prix.

Around 80% of the cost of the redevelopment work at the track was paid for by the government, he added, the rest coming from the RACC which operates the track.

“Our circuit for a lot of time [was] the only circuit with Formula One and Moto GP,” said Barfull. “Now we have three or four circuits with Moto GP and Formula One. And we need to make a balance with both.”

Barfull pointed out both series also have different needs in terms of run-off: asphalt is considered better for cars, gravel beds are preferred for bikes. “We have to negotiate,” he said.

Alterations have also been made to replace a grandstand in order to re-position a barrier and add a gravel bed at the point on the track where a crash claimed the life of Moto 2 rider Luis Salom in 2016.

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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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  • 28 comments on “Catalunya explains £2.68m resurfacing Hamilton called a “waste of money””

    1. A fatal crash aided by a bump in the track at the last chicane

    2. Around 80% of the cost of the redevelopment work at the track was paid for by the government

      With the current political situation in Spain, I’m curious to know which government paid it: The Govern (de Catalunya) or the Gobierno (de España).

      1. It will depend on who you ask. Spain for a relative small country works in a way similar to the USA, which is a bit odd, the central government divides budgets and their “states” which are called “comunidades” freely work with the budgets. If you ask a catalan they will tell they paid for it, since they are the bigger contributers of tax (their words, I don’t really know) if you ask someone from other parts of the country they will tell you it was the Spanish government as it is normal for other regions.

        Curious side note, each Spanish “comunidad” is so independent that if I remember correctly from my experience there the school program differs from one to another, the central government just suggests what they think is best. Prices and taxes of things like water, waist disposal, etc may also differ.

        1. @johnmilk
          Yeah, you can get the widest array of answers depending on who you ask, this is especially true of Catalonia these days.
          But apart from personal, unqualified opinions, I’m actually interested in the question whether such an investment is paid for by the federal government or the government of the comunidad autónoma, i.e. the Govern.
          The GDP per capita of Catalonia is indeed far greater than in the rest of Spain, so it’s true to some extent that Catalonian taxpayers contribute more to the federal budget than other Spaniards. I just don’t think it means what many people seem to think it means. You pay your taxes because that’s your obligation as a member of a society, not because you’re so generous. Consequently, paying more taxes than others doesn’t mean you should have more of a say in how this money is spent. But I digress.

          As for for the independance of the comunidades, we have a similar system in Germany, but even more diverse. Each of the 16 federal states is basically an independent entity when it comes to education and culture (etc.). Discussions about education can get pretty odd as a consequence.

          1. The best that I can answer that question, is that it is the comunidad that decides to do the invest, if that means that they are paying for it though, I do not know.

            Didn’t knew about the education system in Germany. I guess it is more common than I thought.

            Do the votes in Germany have different power from region to region as well like in the USA and Spain?

            1. @johnmilk
              Nah, I wouldn’t say it’s common, Germany’s just a weird country in that respect. It’s a vestige from the time between the Late Middle Ages and the late 19th century, when “Germany” consisted of hundreds of micronations and as many different systems. There has been some convergence since, but not nearly enough to form a consistent whole.

              As for the electoral system:
              Nope, strictly proportional. Or, let’s say, effectively 99% proportional. Every voter has two votes, one for direct representation (1 candidate each from 299 constituencies), one for nationwide party lists.
              And that’s where it starts to get complicated. The first vote must not affect the composition of the Bundestag, so if the results of the first vote exceed the number of seats a party would’ve got according to the results of the second, proportional vote, a complex mechanism starts filling up the other parties’ ranks until their share corresponds to the proportions fixed by the result of the second vote.
              And then, it gets even more complicated, because each nationwide party list is further divided into sub-lists for each federal state, which have to be represented fairly as well. Several rounds of balancing mechanisms later, we end up with a parliament in which more than 1 delegate in 6 is there for purely arithmetic reasons. But it’s pretty much proportional, and each vote counts exactly the same, so, yay?

          2. MarcSaunders
            6th March 2018, 21:48

            It was not a waste but an investment. They get money back from it due to many different sport activities which in turn increases tourism, a big income source in Spain and in Catalonia. And yes, the Comunidad paid the bill.

            1. I’d like to believe that, but I think that’s eyewash. The RoI of Grands Prix tends to be abysmal, and the only reason why developped countries keep hosting them, are short-term benefits for the politicians who pose at those events after convincing everyone else that spending 8 figures on a weekend totally is a sensible investment.

    3. So I guess it wasn’t a waste of money, but a necessity when they look at the bigger picture, even if LH rues the new paving. They had little choice.

    4. LH might be the best driver ever, but every time he opens his mouth he puts his foot inside. Catalunya fix their circuit to prevent the deaths of more pilots and he calls that a waste of money. Might as well keep it closed for a while.

      1. Hamilton said it was a waste of money for F1 .. But that he tought it was probably for MotoGP and the demands of both sports differ.
        Seems he was spot on. And in the point of view of an F1 driver the new asphalt has little to offer.

        1. Exactly. He guessed what the goal might be, he didn’t even know. And still he judged it as a waste. In other words, he didn’t know what he was talking about, he was aware of it, and still he decided to judge other people’s work. A proven recipe to put your foot in your mouth.

          1. I agree! But you’re also forgetting how stupid and how much of his ego played a role in what he said, it was a humble brag from Hamilton in regards to his comments about the resurfacing, The track didn’t need resurfacing because it was now “to easy” (for him) because he was at the top of the time sheets by a long way on that day. It was to draw attention to how good he believes he is and he just wanted everyone to know it. Everything else he had to say was just a smoke screen so he could talk about himself.

          2. Furious Black Panther
            6th March 2018, 23:14

            He guessed, he didn’t even know? Hamilton has been testing for F1 in Barcelona for more than 10 years now. He with his own experience on that track and with the data of his engineers over the years is certainly in much better position to say that and knows what he’s talking about.

            1. LH: “I guess it’s maybe something to do with Moto GP”. So, yes, he guessed.

      2. Catalunya fix their circuit to prevent the deaths of more pilots and he calls that a waste of money.

        No he didn’t. He said nothing about the adding of a gravel trap which was done to prevent accidents like what happened in MotoGP.

        He said he didn’t like the resurfacing, because it makes the circuit bland and he immediately acknowledged that MotoGP drivers will think differently because they don’t like bumps.

        Maybe you should learn to read and actually comprehend.

    5. asphalt is considered better for cars, gravel beds are preferred for bikes.

      That quote confuses me a bit as I’ve always been told the opposite.

      That riders prefer the tarmac runoff because gravel usually causes rider/bike to tumble & that this is often what causes the injuries.

      1. @gt-racer, that is what I have usually heard said as well, and from comments made by Stoner, it sounds as if the majority of the riders in MotoGP have pushed for tarmac run off areas over gravel traps on the grounds that, if the bike digs in if it slides into the gravel trap, it tends to tumble and cause more injuries.

        I understand that another factor is that, for trackside marshals, recovering a stranded vehicle from a gravel trap is harder and more dangerous for marshals. People on foot are more prone to tripping or falling when walking over a loose surface like gravel, and both recovery vehicles and people on foot move more slowly on a loose surface like gravel, increasing the amount of time they have to spend in a gravel trap relative to a tarmac surfaced track and therefore exposing them to more danger.

        Similarly, the idea of placing astroturf being the kerbs, as some here have suggested, is also unpopular with motorcycle riders riders. Dorna have cited the use of astroturf as being a direct cause of several serious, and sometimes fatal, accidents (they cited it as a factor in the death of Moto2 rider Shoya Tomizawa, where he was believed to have lost control after running wide and hitting a section of wet astroturf, causing him to fall back onto the track in front of other riders).

      2. It depends on the situation. For the inside of a fast corner, an S for example, tarmac is better for bikes as they won’t fall if they go off. However the runoff in big breaking points needs to be gravel, in order to slow them down from 250+ Km/h and to prevent serious injuries or death in case of a failure of some sort.

      3. The gravel separates the rider from the bike, which is why it’s preferred. In an ideal world, asphalt followed by gravel is probably the way to go as a happy medium.

    6. The Moto GP race is more lucrative for the circuit than its grand prix

      Even with 3 other spanish venues in the calendar. It’s astonishing how much they love motorcycle racing in Spain, isn’t it.

      1. Its is amazing over there. Who can blame them. A weekend at a MOTOGP weekend is fantastic. F1, not so much

    7. Moto GP eventually said the resurfacing was “compulsory” in order to keep its popular round at the track, Barfull explained. The Moto GP race is more lucrative for the circuit than its grand prix.

      Now there’s a stat.

      1. Bernie’s legacy keeps on giving…er…taking

    8. The Circuit de Catalunya spent £2.68 million (€3m) on a new surface and other track changes which Lewis Hamilton last week described as a “waste of money”.

      I’d expect Hamilton to call €3m ‘just another day at the office’.

      1. ‘First half of February’

    9. Is it difficult to install a “gravel box” on the run off areas for the MotoGP races?
      Something to suit both worlds without being overly complex.

    10. Barfull pointed out both series also have different needs in terms of run-off: asphalt is considered better for cars, gravel beds are preferred for bikes.

      Wasn’t it the opposite?

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