Kevin Magnussen, Haas, Circuit of the Americas, 2019

F1 addressing concerns over COTA’s bumps and Losail’s pit lane entrance

2021 United States Grand Prix

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More work is being done at the Circuit of the Americas to ease the bumps which have been a persistent problem at the next venue F1 will visit.

Several Moto GP riders complained about the bumpiness of the track surface during its recent round at the venue, particularly on the straight between turns 11 and 12. Formula 1 race director Michael Masi described the work being done at the track ahead of next week’s grand prix, which will be its first since 2019.

“I was on the phone to FIM [Fédération Internationale de Motocyclisme] colleagues all weekend whilst they were in Austin to get a true understanding of the entire situation,” said Masi. “Since the 2019 F1 event a large part of the circuit was resurfaced to counter some of the issues that we saw. The areas that were raised by the bikes is different areas to those were resurfaced.

“Tony Cotman, who is one of the FIA circuit inspectors who was previously Champ Car/IndyCar race director, who is in the US, has been out to Austin already during the week, done a report and the circuit are doing some changes for us to address some of the concerns.”

The circuit first held a round of the world championship in 2012 but its surface has become increasingly bumpy since 2015. That year both Williams cars retired from the race due to suspension failures which the team linked to bumps at turn 11 on the five-and-a-half kilometre track.

The track owners ground the track’s surface in 2016 and 2017 to make it smoother, but drivers continued to raise concerns over the problem. Red Bull replaced the rear wing on Max Verstappen’s car on the grid before the start of F1’s last race at the track, having spotted a crack they believed was caused by bumps. Sebastian Vettel’s retirement from the race with suspension failure was also blamed on the punishment dealt out to cars by circuit.

Losail International Circuit, Qatar
Track data: Losail International Circuit
Following next week’s United States Grand Prix Masi will conduct an inspection of the Losail International Circuit which is due to host the first Qatar Grand Prix next month. Despite the short time available to complete work since the announcement of the race last month, some alterations are being made to make the bike-focused venue more suitable for F1 cars.

This includes revising the pit lane entrance, which currently branches off the main start/finish straight at the exit of a corner F1 cars will tackle at high speed.

“They’re changing the pit lane entry completely,” said Masi. “So what was the pit lane entry for bikes will change dramatically. That work’s nearly completed.”

Changes to the circuit’s kerbing will also be made to discourage F1 drivers from cutting corners and running wide. “There’s a number of double kerbs that have been installed,” said Masi. “The circuit is ostensibly a bike circuit, so [we’re adding] apex sausages so people don’t cut corners on the inside, double kerbs on exits.

“As well, there’s a significant number of barrier upgrades with regards to TecPro and tyres around the entire venue. But the pit lane entry is probably the biggest actual track change.”

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23 comments on “F1 addressing concerns over COTA’s bumps and Losail’s pit lane entrance”

  1. The bikes used to complain about the bump on the big straight but last gp they were complaining about the bumpiness from the start of the lap up until t11. The worst part were the esses.

    1. I guess it is not a big surprise, since the track was built on rather damp lands, a bit like the China track etc @peartree. Looks like it will be a bit like chasing moles in the garden – you zap one place, they turn up somewhere else!

      1. Which is funny as Texas has many deserts…

      2. @bascb indeed, motogp used to hammer f1 for the bumps on these 2 tracks, motogp no longer races in china, but clearly the tracks were to blame. Last weekend for a change they didn’t blame f1, after all f1 has not been racing at cota and some f1 tracks like Silverstone have become very smooth for bikes.

  2. If MotoGP could ride, F1 can race.
    The bumpiest section are the esses and where Vettel broke the suspension in 2019 (turn 10?).
    If the cars have problems maybe they should avoid the kerbs or soften the suspension but the bumps, as Danny Ric said, give character to the circuit

    1. @doctorlovesexy F1 cars produce considerably more downforce & are a lot heavier, so at worst, the tarmac in its present state mightn’t stand high-DF F1 cars.

    2. Funny, I don’t ever remember seeing MotoGP bike ripping out a welded in manhole cover. Yes they both have wheels, but the physics of F1 and MotoGP are not equivalent.

    3. It’s not a rally car race, friend. I’m surprised someone wasn’t seriously hurt in the recent MotoGP round there.

  3. Jonathan Parkin
    14th October 2021, 12:31

    I remember a time when all F1 tracks (with the notable exception of Magny Cours) were all bumpy and the drivers just lived with it

    1. Difference was the cars weren’t as sensitive too them back then but as aero became more important, suspension stiffer & car ride height lower among other things bumps started to become a problem as cars struggled to handle them.

      Will possibly be an even bigger problem next year given how ground effects require a stable platform to work consistently & things like bumps that alter the cars pitch can result in a sudden massive loss of downforce.

      This isn’t a new thing either as one of the reasons Mexico was dropped from F1 after 1992 was because the bumps were starting to become a problem & caused a few big accidents the last few years the old circuit was used. Senna had 2 big accidents in 1991 caused by some of the bigger bumps simply throwing the car off the road with zero chance to save it.

      1. Were not sensitive? They used to have flat bottom. Look at Senna video in Monaco in 1990. Or even back at early 1980’s with ground effect, when you barely could keep foots on pedals.
        The difference is that modern kids are milksops.

  4. Haha, MotoGP riders will like F1 fixing the bumps in COTA – but they’ll definitely hate F1 ruining the surface of Losail 😆

  5. COTA is such a useless name

  6. Smoothing bumps at COTA, while simultaneously complaining that most circuits they visit have no character….
    Good on ya, F1.

    And to think this is supposedly the same series that used to race around the Nordschleife.
    How times, and attitudes, have changed.
    Maybe they just need a spoonful of cement…

    1. True. A return to the old Nurburgring will help provide perspective.

  7. Resurfacing at this short notice is undoable, so if the track surface is as bad as mentioned during MotoGP’s visit, the US GP could face a force majeure cancellation at worst, given the tarmac mightn’t stand high-DF F1 cars.
    This issue arose too late for resurfacing work (definitely the entire circuit) completion in time, so if things go wrong, they go. I’m surprised no one so this issue until MotoGP’s visit two weeks ago.

  8. I guess I’m biased, my 1st in person F1 race was Mexico, 1987. Possibly the bumpiest track in modern history. Senna, Prost, Mansell and Piquet were all OK with it! Give the engineers a fresh puzzle to solve in a weekend and we seem to get a great race as a result.

  9. I don’t understand. If there is a race in the calendar with bumps, you have to do a car that can cope with the bumps. If you aren’t done it, is not the track fault.

    1. I’d think that the teams do take the bumps into consideration, but as a large majority of the track is relatively smooth, presumably the fastest lap times are obtained by prioritizing the setup for the non bumpy bits.

  10. Ladies and Gentlemen, what we have here is the worlds most competitive, talented and privileged engineers joining in chorus with the most overpaid, overpampered, and whiny drivers in the history of Motorsport; to complain about how the bumpy road makes their feelings go “Ouchie! Waa, waa. It make a booboo!

    The same people who bring specialized wings to Monza/Spa/Monaco, transform to completely inept when it comes to bringing other specialized components, such as suspension components?

    We know the cars can not drive on a track that has seen even a hint of damp in a fortnight, and now the surface itself has emerged as the villain that is making them go ” Bumpy wumpy, hurting my itsy bwainy wainy!! ༼ಢ_ಢ༽ ”

    “The best engineers in the world”: can not make a car that works when it’s moist or shaky.
    “The best drivers in the world”: can not drive around a problem, or adjust to conditions.

    How about we return to a way of sportsmanship where you lot learn to engineer and drive your way around a track, the fastest you can, any and all tracks. What a sad state of F1 this is.

  11. I do acknowledge the comments made here regarding why it is an issue, and I do not dispute those points.

    But I must side with those suggesting the required changes (or at least some of the changes) should lie with the cars. If the engineers had their way there would be a slot in the track that the car could use to keep the car on the exact same piece of tarmac each lap and the variables were eliminated. I cannot agree more with the view that the need to adapt the cars contributes to the variability of the show, by way of whom adapts best.

    Of course I do not understand there is a risk aspect – it should be incumbent upon the teams that are strong enough to cope – but rain adds risk, wind adds risk. Do we move indoors to remove those variables.

    It’s these natural variations that should be part of the challenge.

    ……………….. of course I haven’t seen the ‘new’ bumps, so if we are talking ‘sausage kerb’ equivalents strewn across the track, then I retract my comments.

    1. I took a little too long to type my comment, so apologies for – in many ways – restating what ‘Cranberry’ already said… or at least a similar sentiment.

  12. Actually, they aren’t addressing anything this close to the F1 race at COTA. They’re flapping their pie hole doors and hoping something hopeful dribbles out.

    Or maybe they’re going to offer up the “addresses” of the bumps in braking zones. Or maybe they’ll decree all cockpits carry 5mm of extra bum padding.

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