Pierre Gasly, Toro Rosso, Circuit of the Americas, 2018

Drivers discussed ‘lip biting’ bumps on COTA surface

2018 United States Grand Prix

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The Formula One drivers discussed how bumpy the surface is at Circuit of the Americas during their briefing, with Pierre Gasly saying it’s so severe that he is involuntarily biting his lips on the back straight.

Gasly confirmed it was discussed during the drivers’ briefing at the US Grand Prix to ask what could be done to improve the surface – “It’s something we discussed at the drivers’ briefing, trying to do something for it.”

Describing the level of the bumps, he said that although he thought the surface might have been even worse in the past, it was shaking the car severely enough to make him involuntarily bite his lip – “It’s quite bumpy, it’s true – I think it’s been worse in the past but still in the back straight you can feel it, even sometimes I bite my lips without doing anything. It’s really bumpy on the back straight.”

Daniel Ricciardo, however, when asked about Gasly’s description said “Oh, that’s a French thing.”

He said the bumps were noticeable but not causing major disruption, “It’s bumpy but it’s ok. For sure, turn 9 there’s a couple of bits and then the engine kind of spikes but it’s fine, it’s not uncomfortable.”

Ricciardo and Gasly both agreed that the bumps were more of a problem for MotoGP, for whom the track had been attemptedly ground down earlier this year. Gasly said that it could go as far as risking the MotoGP race here if it could not be resolved, “I think that actually the MotoGP riders said they don’t want to race here anymore if they don’t resurface the track so I think that it’s planned that they’ll do something.”

At the time of this year’s MotoGP race, it was actually Formula One cars that were blamed for the bumps caused by high downforce running. All tracks shared between the two series suffer from the need to resurface for bike racing, with COTA choosing to grind down the existing surface rather than lay new tarmac earlier this year, leaving huge amounts of dust on the track as well as a remaining bumpy surface for the riders.

Ricciardo agreed it was a bigger issue for MotoGP but said he didn’t think there was any need to resurface the track solely for F1 “I believe it’s more the motorbike guys who are complaining – honestly for us, it’s not smooth but it’s fine. If they’re resurfacing it just for us then it doesn’t need to be done, it adds a bit of character.”

Rain has interrupted running at the US Grand Prix so in addition to bumps the track has had less opportunity to be rubbered-in. Gasly said that there were significant improvements between sessions today, consequently – “The track improvement was quite big from P3 to qualifying and even between the runs. All the rain, for sure, this morning meant the rubber wasn’t really there so that was a pretty big track improvement.”

Author information

Dieter Rencken
Dieter Rencken has held full FIA Formula 1 media accreditation since 2000, during which period he has reported from over 300 grands prix, plus...
Hazel Southwell
Hazel is a freelance journalist who roams the paddocks of Formula E, covering the technical and emotional elements of electric racing. Usually found at...

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8 comments on “Drivers discussed ‘lip biting’ bumps on COTA surface”

  1. I somehow doubt the Indycar drivers will be complaining this much about the bumps next spring.

    1. MotoGP riders will complain if those bumps aren’t leveled out.

  2. If only Gasly had a similar problem when confronted with journalists willing to let his lips flap …

    He must spend at least half his weekend giving his opinion on absolutely anything, or doing PR lying for Honda.

    1. He must spend at least half his weekend giving his opinion on absolutely anything

      Like when he’s asked questions by journalists and answered them?

      1. Go through the headlines on this page … disproportionately high number of “Gasly says” articles … especially for someone who hasn’t yet proved that they even belong at this level.

    2. All of the drivers are required to show up for interviews with the press.

      It’s up to the press to decide which comments to print.

      Since Gasly is going to be at Red Bull next year, he’s very interesting to the journalists.

  3. While improving the surface of the track would primarily be for MotoGP riders, I believe it would also help F1 drivers as well. I think F1 lap times would improve.

  4. I think there is two principal qoutes in this article.

    1) “it adds a bit of character”. I´m tired of the perfection and uniformity of the F1. Tracks completely smooth, same kerbs (including color), same painting, same sponsors, same tarmac runoffs, and the same type or turns in all the “new” F1 tracks. Sometimes it looks like they are always racing in the same place. I don’t know why, but the uniformity seems to be good for the marketing (in football, in LaLiga, they are now forcing the teams to have the same type of grass, the same measures of the field, etc. with the excuse of “it’s sells better”) but in my opinion, for people it would be more attractive if each circuit were more different and had its own personality, curiosities and unique things.

    2) “It’s a french thing”. Please I want more Ricciardos :D

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