Alonso studied junior series, not IndyCar, for Zandvoort banking clues

2021 Dutch Grand Prix

Posted on

| Written by and

Fernando Alonso says his lauded approach to Zandvoort’s banked turn three wasn’t inspired by his IndyCar racing experience.

The Alpine driver, who has entered the Indianapolis 500 on three occasions, pulled off an impressive more at the unusual corner as he swept around his rivals to pick up two places on the first lap of the race.

However he said the shallow banking used at Indianapolis was not a useful reference for Zandvoort’s steep, 18-degree third turn. “There’s nothing really comparable between the two series,” said Alonso.

“I think the banking in Indy is much less. The speed is a lot higher, the downforce level is very different and then in Indy, you run very low. There is no point to go outside. While there was all in the outside because there were different steps on the banking.”

Alonso said he rewatched footage of the Formula Regional European series, which raced at Zandvoort in June, to see how different drivers tackled the corner.

“In [first practice] I tried different lines and they seemed to work okay. It was fun because you feel the compression there and it’s a different feeling.”

Other circuits are adding banked corners to their layouts including the Yas Marina circuit in Abu Dhabi, as revealed by RaceFans. Alonso believes this is a change for the better.

“It helps the nature of racing, it helps speeding up the corners and helps the tyre management and the aerodynamics and everything. Which we are not used to because in the last few years we build circuits with off-camber corners which was the opposite.

“Now we are all happily surprised with a banked corner. It makes even more sad why we built so many tracks with off-camber.”

Advert | Become a RaceFans supporter and go ad-free

2021 Dutch Grand Prix

Browse all 2021 Dutch Grand Prix articles

19 comments on “Alonso studied junior series, not IndyCar, for Zandvoort banking clues”

  1. “Now we are all happily surprised with a banked corner. It makes even more sad why we built so many tracks with off-camber.”

    This! I believe that off-camber corners were introduced to make overtaking easier. But apparently now there is a new approach that tries the opposite. I think that banked corners can make close racing easier, but I am no expert. At least it makes the racing more exciting so there is already one advantage.

    1. Funny how with so many off camber corners, we see so little overtaking..

      Meanwhile all old tracks tend to have cambered corners, as does any decent road.

      Pay attention to F1 car going through Lesmos in Monza, camber is good.

  2. I’ll never understand Hermann Tilke’s obsession with off-camber corners. Maybe they were designed to challenge a driver, but they don’t promote good racing.

    The title of the article sounds like a slight on Indy Car. Sounds like a journalist who knows nothing about Indy asked Alonso that question.
    Its very clear that this corner is very unique (for now…) and is nothing like any oval/speedway corner. You would never have that kind of downforce on an oval either as the setup would be completely different.

    We often see Alonso studying the junior formula. I’m surprised more drivers don’t do the same. Maybe they do, but we never see it.

    1. @eurobrun Martin Brundle has said a few times over the years that they started using so many off camber corners as they were seen as “Error generators” with the thought process been that they would make it easier for drivers to make small mistakes which would give drivers behind opportunities to get closer & have a go at overtaking at the next possible overtaking opportunity.

      I think that theory may work in some situations, But putting so many off camber corners in places where overtaking is never going to be possible (The section around/under the hotel in Abu Dhabi for example) you just end up with corners that frustrate drivers & don’t add much from a viewer’s perspective either.

  3. It all depends on what you want to achieve with a corner and what you race on it.
    Off-camber corners are much more suited to cars that run little or no aero package – cars more reliant on mechanical grip. The design point being that they are focused on making things difficult for the drivers rather than directly promoting overtaking there. The challenge in exiting such a corner can potentially assist in setting up an overtaking opportunity at the following section of track, though that effect is reduced considerably in F1 due to the enormous amounts of dirty air they produce.

    Corners such as Zandvoort’s Turn 3 are based on short speedway track design, where multiple lines can be taken to aid overtaking at that location – but at the expense of creating a driving challenge.

    I knew it wouldn’t take long for someone to point at Tilke – but let’s not forget that he only supplies circuit designs that his customers want. Not all of his circuits are the same – most of his older ones are actually very good, and some do make use of inward-camber.

    Overlooked, as usual, is just how much F1 cars have changed. Change those, and the circuits can do pretty much whatever they want.

    1. The blame is on Tilke and on the spoilt generation drivers. It’s never the cars. In quite interesting to try to understand what do these people think in general.

  4. I like this guy Alonso, every year he is more fun.

    1. I do too, I think he has a long successful future ahead of him. One of the better rookies of late, not sure why he is so addicted to collecting helmets though….

  5. I was surprised so many respected journalists talked about Alonso’s Indycar experience during last weekend… it’s like they all went “ah! banked corner! Indianapolis! yeah, let’s write that one down…”

    Turn 3 has nothing to do at all with Indianapolis. He’d better off using his experience at Monaco to tackle that corner before his Indycar experience…

  6. I remember from his days in Ferrari Alonso used to watch the lower series and support races to better understand the track conditions and grip levels on race day.

    When he was asked about the move he pulled on both Hamilton and Raikkonen on the first lap of the 2013 Spanish GP at turn 3, he said he knew it was possible to overtake at that particular spot where there is usually no grip because he watched the GP2 race. Alonso racing IQ is still top-notch !

    1. @tifoso1989

      Alonso racing IQ is still top-notch !

      It’s probably even better than before, with added experience. While his quali performances have been not yet fully convincing (to his own high standands), in races he has been spectacular this season as the usual.

  7. Successful on which grounds? Might be fun to drive but apart from Alonso and Perez there was very little overtaking and it was a procession.

    The race was boring. How can that be used to gauge success?

  8. I really hope they don’t end up going overboard & start looking to introduce banked corners at as many circuits as possible as that will just dilute the novelty of seeing them.

  9. Can someone help me, I can’t think of the long list of off-camber corners. There might be lots of corners with a slight gradient (can’t think of any really) but a serious camber like at Zandvoort? Surely there’s none?

    1. @cduk_mugello There certainly isn’t any off-camber gradients like Zandvoort turn 3. But mild ones are all over the place for anything built in the last twenty years. Malaysia instantly springs to mind as the first, but China, sector 3 at Yas Marina, Istanbul Park. They’re fairly common, but not obvious to the naked eye.

      1. @bernasaurus Now you say it I think yeah Yas Marina final sector is fairly off camber. Funny you say not obvious to naked eye. Just went and had a look at my pictures from Sepang in 2017, and I was stood on the track at Turn 1 and even then I can’t work out the camber. I imagine it’s the kind of thing that’s more susceptible when you’re inside the car!

  10. Completely off topic, but do we know yet what Alpine is keeping inside that airbox? It’s huge, and makes it one of the few cars you’d recognise from a head on silhouette. What have they moved up there and why? It doesn’t seem to be harming them much.

  11. As always, remains obsessed with ‘GP2’ and lower series: cars, engines and racing techniques. :)

Comments are closed.