Stoffel Vandoorne, McLaren, Silverstone, 2018

Silverstone’s “bumpiest ever” track surface smoothed for F1’s return

2019 British Grand Prix

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Silverstone, which Lewis Hamilton last year described as being bumpier than the Nurburgring Nordschleife, has been replaced with a smoother track surface.

The track has been resurfaced for the second year in a row following criticism of the new surface which was laid in 2018. After Friday practice for last year’s British Grand Prix Hamilton commented “the people they hired did the worst job ever”.

RaceFans understands the newly laid track surface offers greater grip than before and has been smoothed to within a tolerance of just two millimetres to address the “micro-bumps” problem which was observed before.

Last year’s at Moto GP race at the track was abandoned following persistent heavy rain at the circuit and problems with drainage. A slight crown in the road has been added to the new surface the help disperse water.

FIA race director Michael Masi said work on the track was still being completed during the Austrian Grand Prix weekend.

“A couple of our team from the FIA did go there in recent weeks to have a look at the level of works being done and from everything that the images that I’ve seen and what’s happened that’s been done to a very, very high standard,” said Masi.

“The track manager said in his 30 years there the place has been resurfaced three times and twice in the last couple of years so he’d like to hope that it doesn’t happen in the rest of his time working there.”

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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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25 comments on “Silverstone’s “bumpiest ever” track surface smoothed for F1’s return”

  1. Last years MotoGP wasn’t canceled just due to rains, there were safety concerns as standing water had caused crashes leading to serious injuries to Tito Rabat and several riders had suffered serious high speed crashes.

    1. pastaman (@)
      4th July 2019, 13:35

      Moto GP race at the track was abandoned following persistent heavy rain at the circuit and problems with drainage

      1. Last year’s Valencia GP it rained just as hard as or harder than one at Silverstone GP and yet the race was run as normal with high profile crashes(Rossi and Marquez both tumbled out of race badly) during the race. Silverstone was a joke with its low grip tarmac and with crashes occurring due to it leading to serious injuries for Rabat(3 fractures on single leg) and other rider

  2. It’s going to be bumpy as hell, isn’t it?

  3. With the downforce and braking capabilities of these F1 cars, I’m sure they’ll leave the track bumpier than when they arrive. MotoGP might still not be happy at the bumpiness they encounter.

    1. @phylyp, in this instance, though, it sounds like the problem was that the original tarmac surface wasn’t laid properly when they carried out the works last year.

      Over at Motorsport Magazine, they interviewed a group of motorcycle racers who took part in a national motorbike racing context in mid April last year. Now, that race took place several months before the British Grand Prix, but those motorcycle racers confirmed that the track was already extremely bumpy and suffering from major drainage problems, with several riders suffering from aquaplaning and nearly crashing.

      With that in mind, whilst the MotoGP riders might have blamed F1 for making the track bumpier, it sounds as if the problem already existed long before the F1 cars turned up – that points towards the problem being caused by poor construction instead.

      1. A brand new surface as we speak and very high temperatures.. that could mean we are in for a lot of track damage during the days.
        Let’s hope i am wrong.

        1. erikje, the UK hasn’t been quite as badly impacted as southern and central Europe has been by the recent hot weather – if anything, up until fairly recently it was a little cooler than usual for this time of year.

          As it stands, the weather recently has been in the low to mid 20ºC range, and I believe the long term forecast for the race weekend are predicting temperatures around 22ºC, and potentially slightly overcast, when the track is being used. If that is the case, then it would be several degrees cooler than last year, and if it is slightly overcast, that is likely to help keep track temperatures down a bit as well.

          Now, it could be that things change quite a bit in the intervening days, but right now it looks like the track temperatures should be more manageable than last year and the risk of track damage looks like it should be lower compared to last year.

  4. tony mansell
    4th July 2019, 12:00

    And lets hope their milky drinks are stirred enough for their liking

  5. Yeah, why leave any chance that the Silverstone race could feature something interesting? Not like the track isn’t boring enough already.

    1. tony mansell
      4th July 2019, 15:20

      Copse becketts and maggots is the best 3 corner test in racing. Copse may be flat in f1 now but its still a mighty corner.

    2. I could use many words to describe Silverstone, boring is not one of them.

  6. The irony is that none of this would’ve been necessary had it been properly resurfaced the last time.

    1. The irony is they spent all the money and still don’t have a race next year

  7. I don’t really think the bumps were much of an issue, but the poor drainage definitely was and needed to be addressed.
    So if you’re gonna go to the effort of starting again, you best as well pull out the stops to not look stupid twice!

    1. From what Lewis was saying it sounds like bumps were a significant problem.
      From what I’ve seen around the city where I live roads get damaged when heavier than expected vehicles use a road, and that simply resurfacing is only effective if the damage is very light or if the uneven surface is the consequence of gradual movement of the ground. It seems Silverstone has been used for racing tractor units. According to the FIA European Truck Racing Championship, tractor units must have a minimum weight of 5.3 tonnes, which is heavier than an F1 car with G-force loading. Of course, the damage may be unrelated to vehicles actually racing on the track, it could be the heavy support vehicles bringing equipment and racing vehicles to Silverstone were driven on the track, or it could be other heavy vehicles are regularly driven on the track, e.g. rubbish trucks, hoists, fire engines, etc.
      The track needs to be built to the heaviest vehicle expected to drive on the track, and vehicles heavier than that should be banned (emergencies aside) from the track otherwise the 2 mm construction tolerance won’t last long.

  8. What a bunch of whingers. No other competition that whinges like F1.

    Bumps, slippery paint, patchy surfaces, bad kerbs, barriers, etc., all add to the fun. Back in the golden days they’d rock up and contend with whatever challenging conditions were thrown at them. These days the cars are a lot safer, they can deal with it

    1. Jamie B, the main reason for the change is because the MotoGP rider Tito Rabat had his leg shattered after he aquaplaned off the track and was hit by Morbidelli’s bike when he lost control.

      Rabat himself has subsequently admitted that he was scared of potentially bleeding to death on the side of the track given how badly shattered his leg was and how heavily he was bleeding. Even just getting his leg shattered was slightly lucky for him, because he’d only just managed to get to his feet before being hit – had he still been on the ground when Morbidelli’s bike came sliding across the gravel trap, it would have almost certainly struck him in the head and killed him.

      You complain about a “bunch of whingers”, but to put it bluntly, they are having to make those changes because those problems nearly ended up killing Rabat last year and the remaining MotoGP riders refused to ride in case somebody else was killed in a similar accident.

      1. Oh yes, to be clear, the situation for MotoGP was highly dangerous, no question of it. I’m not accusing them of whinging. So why resurface it, again, before the F1 race? Given it’s partly due to the high downforce of F1 cars causing problems

        In general, they whinge about everything in F1.

        1. How certain are we that the damage was caused by F1 cars? The racing tractor units weigh at least 5.3 tonnes each, which is more than the G force weight of an F1 car. I don’t know when the last tractor units raced on Silverstone, but they are Youtube videos showing races in 2015 and 2016, so we know it happened then. If F1 cars cause damage to the race track then those tractor units would easily add to it. In addition, we don’t know what other vehicles, and especially what heavy vehicles are allowed to drive on the track on non-race days. It could be rubbish trucks or trucks involved with some sort of construction are also allowed on the track.

        2. Jamie B, whilst there are those who might want to blame F1 for the track being bumpy, that seems to be misdirection at best.

          As I’ve noted before, national motorsport series were complaining to the BRDC about major drainage issues and problems with the track being very bumpy back in April, and the British Grand Prix did not take place until July.

          That view is also backed up by the official surveys carried out by FIM, which is the motorcycle equivalent of the FIA. Their opinion, based on their survey data, was that the track surface degraded before the British Grand Prix – they also note that Cal Crutchlow conducted a test on behalf of FIM in March, and he was already stating that there were a few noticeable bumps that could cause problems for the MotoGP riders, with the circuit already having to take remedial action back then.

          The fact that the problems were observed pretty much as soon as they started using the circuit, and at least three months before any F1 cars turned up, suggests that the bumps were built in right from the very start and that the problems were down to poor construction – the angle that “F1 cars are damaging the track” looks like a questionable argument at best, and probably inaccurate in reality given the bumps seem to have been just as bad before the British Grand Prix took place.

          As for why they are doing it now, the answer is simple – because the weather conditions make this one of the best times of the year to be carrying out construction work, the period from June to July is the longest period in the racing calendar between races and, after mid July, the circuit is going to be very heavily used for a wide range of major motorsport series, such as the FIA Formula 3 Championship, MotoGP and the World Endurance Championship, to name just a few.

          If the works do not take place now, then Silverstone is unlikely to have a chance to carry out those works before the MotoGP race takes place again in August – and, if they do not do it now, there is a risk that FIM might deem Silverstone to be violating their safety standards and strip them of the right to hold motorcycle races. The World Endurance Championship have also made formal complaints to Silverstone about the condition of the track, as have a number of other GT series – again, doing the work now means that they will be complete before those races take place.

          For all your efforts to try and paint this as “whining F1”, it actually makes a lot of sense when you look at the way that the racing calendar stacks up and the way that the construction industry works – no offence, but most of the whining seems to be coming from those who want to whine about F1 instead.

      2. And by the way, I meant to specify in my original comment that I wasn’t referring to sorting out the drainage issues, realised I had forgotten right after I pressed post. That is a genuine problem for all motorsports.

  9. Clouds with a silver lining? Think they will leave no stone unturned this time around…

    Puns aside, unless RBR and Honda decide to start burning 1 PU every in 2 races, even if… the concessions of performance by the reigning champs will likely be restricted to tracks like Hungary and Mexico.

    Hoping for a different scenario, but given their recent advantage overall, it’s safe to say that they can afford races like this, while the rest plays catchup.

  10. Someone designed a race track in Great Britain without taking drainage into consideration? Brilliant!

  11. Looking forward to taking tenths off my running times when the Silverstone 10 km happens in September (it got moved to accommodate this resurface).

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