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Designer defends Miami track

NEWS STORY
16/05/2022

With many claiming the Miami track was more Mickey Mouse than Jekyll and Hyde, designer Clive Bowen has leapt to the defence of the circuit.

Almost from the outset, despite gushing over the location, the vibe and just about everything else unconnected with the race, once the drivers took to the track - indeed, even before they had taken to the track - it was clear that all was not well.

Even before a wheel had turned repairs needed to be carried out to the track surface and this continued throughout the weekend.

Warning that to venture off the racing line was tantamount to going over a cliff and that overtaking would be impossible, the drivers also dismissed the much-hyped final sector, the so-called ‘mistake generator' as Mickey Mouse.

Clive Bowen, founder of the British company behind the circuit's design, Apex Circuit Design, admits to being embarrassed by the criticism.

"Actually it was embarrassment on my part personally," he tells Motor Sport magazine. "There's a lot of time invested in getting this right. There's professional pride involved, isn't there?

"There was a lot of research undertaken," he continues. "We didn't go off-piste, it was conventional thinking, it was conventional engineering.

"You've got to remind yourself that first races at venues often have this happen," he adds. "It was the same at COTA, it was the same as Singapore, it was same at Istanbul when it was resurfaced.

"If you think of it from that perspective, it's just a question of waiting for the track to mature," he insists. "It's a brand new piece of asphalt, and it needs to do its thing.

"On Friday and Saturday, with the track being so dirty, it was concerning that we weren't getting to where we wanted to be," he admits.

"But it's interesting that there were multiple lines, there was overtaking on corners... midfield, I saw quite a lot of passing that was in corners," he adds, referring to Sunday's race.

"I didn't expect to see passing in the very high speed corners because of course the cars are grip-limited there, but they still did it. What that told me is that the line wasn't restricted to just the racing line because you can't have passing side-by-side when you're at high G if you don't grip offline.

"There was a pleasure that we had the race that we had," he says of the reaction from the promoters. "And there was in my case a genuine pleasure in seeing that we achieved what we wanted."

The weekend got off to the worst of starts, of course, when Carlos Sainz and Esteban Ocon crashed in FP2 and FP3 respectively. In both cases their cars incurred substantial damage after slamming heavily into concrete barriers, leading to calls for the concrete to be replaced with Tecpro.

Sainz spun off into the barriers at Turn 14 in an incident that peaked at 47g, while Ocon hit the barriers at Turn 17 in a clash that peaked at 51g. Such was the impact of the Frenchman's off the Alpine suffered a cracked chassis and as a result he was unable to take part in qualifying.

"If a car comes through and it slides on in understeer into a barrier, there would never been a problem," says Bowen. "But what happened was they lost the back of the car and spun around, and then they reversed down the circuit until they hit the barrier.

"So where do you stop? Where do you stop the Tecpro? Next year the wall will be in the same place, but you can extend the Tecpro?"

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READERS COMMENTS

 

1. Posted by Defiant, 17/05/2022 2:10

"oh imagine that, the designer thinks its a good track... shocker.

"

Rating: Neutral (0)     Rate comment: Positive | NegativeReport this comment

2. Posted by Burton, 16/05/2022 12:38

"This track layout will never be a classic, far from it, but to me the bit that was most criticised by the drivers, the awkward slow chicane, is the one to be retained. It goes slightly uphill, the weight of the car shifts around and they actually have to lift or correct and wrestle the car as if it was a heavier GT car or something like that.
But apart from the older drivers, these guys only know the last generation of cars with on-rails perfect downforce, so thoughts and prayers to them. (see Charles with Lauda's car)."

Rating: Positive (5)     Rate comment: Positive | NegativeReport this comment

3. Posted by Roli, 16/05/2022 9:21

"It just proves that these "build a track in a day" just dont work. It was a shambles from start to finish, Boring, processional and there was more hype on the Celebs than the racing. RIP Miami F1"

Rating: Positive (9)     Rate comment: Positive | NegativeReport this comment

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