Too tight, too short, too bumpy: Detroit pole-winner Palou criticises new track


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Alex Palou claimed the first IndyCar pole position on its new Detroit street circuit then made his feelings clear about the track’s shortcomings.

The 2.64 kilometre downtown circuit which replaced the Belle Isle course this year has prompted discussion and criticism since drivers sampled it for the first time yesterday. Palou said the track isn’t up to IndyCar standards.

“It’s too tight for IndyCars,” said Palou. “It’s too short for IndyCars. There’s too much traffic. It’s too bumpy.”

Other drivers have commented on the length of the circuit, which leaves less than 100 metres per car on average.

“I think if we’re doing 62 second [laps] and there’s 27 cars, it’s like 2.4 seconds for each car, when everybody wants a five-second gap,” he said. “Then you end up having traffic every lap like we saw in practice two.

“I don’t know what the perfect distance is, but I would say adding 30 seconds to the track or 20 seconds would help a lot.

“We have a lot of cars. It’s crazy. It’s good, it’s really good for the series, for the racing. But when it comes to practice, we have 10 red flags, 25 yellows, traffic all the time.”

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“If they were asking me, I would say please can we have 20 more seconds so it’s a little bit of a longer lap and a bit wider turns,” he added. “Turn one is really tight.”

The track is short, and narrow in places
The majority of the track’s 10 turns are 90-degree corners, a feature other drivers have also complained about. The pit lane exit is alongside the entrance to turn one, and the line was redrawn following the first day of practice yesterday in an effort to reduce the possibility of collisions there and improve the racing line through the corner.

“I think you have to kind of give a little bit of advantage or priority to the guy that is on track,” said Palou.

“I think that’s fair. There was not much more margin to do anything differently because it’s, I don’t know, 400 feet to the first corner. I honestly like that because otherwise I think the issue was that we couldn’t go enough to the right, so turn one was even tighter.”

He said he is grateful to be starting from pole position, but pointed out Indy Nxt driver Louis Foster was taken out at the start at turn three after leading the field away from pole position today.

“I was watching Indy Nxt, the guy starting on pole ended up on the fence on the braking zone.”

“I think I’m the happiest driver at the moment starting on pole, so I cannot complain too much,” he added. “It’s going to be really important, but at the same time it’s a hundred laps. It’s going to be a long day.”

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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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10 comments on “Too tight, too short, too bumpy: Detroit pole-winner Palou criticises new track”

  1. I’m watching the GT support race, the Michelin Pilot Challenge – and pretty shocked by what a poxy, narrow, bumpy excuse for a racetrack this is. It looks like a detour around some roadworks! I hope this kind of street circuit isn’t the future of F1…

    1. Yellow Baron
      4th June 2023, 5:14

      Well las Vegas is just going to be smoother with a few less 90° turns

  2. I think it’s ridiculous for those sophisticated cars to race on a track in that condition.
    Onboard it looked like they were going through a warzone…

    1. “going through a warzone…”

      Well yes it is Detroit.

  3. “Too tight, too short, too bumpy”

    Can I use that to update my profile or is it copyright ?

  4. Belle Isle was not exactly a great circuit but this sounds a lot worse.

  5. From a viewers perspective it was great to see the cars dance about and the drivers having to hussle. With the lack of technical intrigue and stakes in IndyCar it needs to be off set with something else. Challenging circuits are a good thing. I can see why drivers would be a bit frustrated but as a viewership…. its good.

    1. Agree. Amazing all the whining about this track. Is Monaco really much better? Just more yachts… I watched the Indy NXT race yesterday and it was f’ing fantastic! One thing this will have over Spanish GP, it’ll be exciting and you won’t know who’s going to win.

  6. Not only is it “Too tight, too short, too bumpy”, but the industrial sorroundings of the course are incredibly ugly, even to say visually unpleasant. It looks like an environment from an 80s video game.

  7. If the recent Crashville at Nashville races have been anything to go by then the Detroit race is going to fun… if by fun you mean a series of full course yellows and reds throughout.

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