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COTA "not at F1 level" complain drivers

NEWS STORY
24/10/2023

Drivers have complained about the track surface at the Circuit of the Americas, with Max Verstappen claiming that the track is no longer "at F1 level".

Though always popular with fans and drivers alike, due to the fact that the man who first envisaged it, Tavo Hellmund, modelled it on some of the world's most iconic tracks, this year the Texas circuit has come in for a lot of criticism, a situation that will not be helped by the disqualification of Lewis Hamilton and Charles Leclerc.

Always a fairly bumpy track surface, the decision to resurface parts of the track appears to have worsened the situation, with drivers suffering throughout the weekend, and Mercedes citing the bumps as one of the main reasons for Hamilton's disqualification.

Not helping the situation was the fact that this was a Sprint weekend, consequently teams had little opportunity to experiment with set-ups.

"At the moment it feels like it's better suited to a rally car," said race winner Max Verstappen. "Like, I'm jumping and bouncing around.

"In an F1 car, you probably don't see it as much because of course we are glued to the ground because of the downforce," he explained, "but the bumps and jumps that we have in some places, it's way too much.

"I don't think it's F1 level," he said. "I love this track, honestly, the layout is amazing, but we definitely need new tarmac."

"I like some of the bumps because it adds character to a circuit," said Hamilton, though he had yet to learn of his disqualification, "but there's way too many.

"We could work, we as drivers in the GPDA, we're open to discussing with them and helping them maybe not doing the whole thing so it costs a fortune," he added. "Like, from the last corner to the start line, for example, that's smooth, then the rest is bumpy. The pitlane is smooth, but there are other areas that for sure we could patch up and improve."

"It would be helpful if they didn't put new tarmac in a braking zone as well," suggested Lando Norris. "They resurfaced some places and they start the tarmac at the 100 metre board into Turn 12, which is where we brake.

"So little things they could do. From what I've heard they're resurfacing the first sector or something next year, so we'll hope it's a little bit better."

Check out our Sunday gallery from COTA here.

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1. Posted by MossMan, 02/11/2023 11:11

"@Pavlo - that was Wokingchap I quoted about the French roads - saying they're patched but very smooth.

In fact I lived in France for a decade and wouldn't agree they have great roads - apart from the toll motorways. I'm guessing it's the "pťages" Wokingchap was talking about - plenty of streets and country roads which demonstrate why the 2CV pioneered CitroŽn's hydropneumatic suspension..."

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2. Posted by Pavlo, 24/10/2023 18:50

"@MossMan - when you mention French roads, which speed did you try? I know that speed matters a lot.
Better example may be German motorways. I drove there 200 km/h (maximum that my car can) and it was absolutely comfortable. Some sport cars around were doing 250-300 and this also doesn’t feel bumpy.
Is it really Americans can’t do a 5 km long track smoother than normal roads that Germans make in thousands of kms, or it’s rather problem of specific cars?"

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3. Posted by Chester, 24/10/2023 13:07

"Amen, Pavlo. "

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4. Posted by Pavlo, 24/10/2023 12:06

"As we saw, F1 cars absolutely can manage it. Moreover I believe it’s a vicious cycle: the cars of 50-es wouldn’t notice any bumps and will run smooth and comfortably, but since that time all the tracks got resurfaced and way smoother. Therefore teams make harder cars, that are faster but now require smooth surface.
We can just step back and say “here is a track, let’s see who can do fastest here”."

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5. Posted by MossMan, 24/10/2023 11:30

"(I meant to say "surfaces" not "surface" - most roads while driving the whole region were new, spotless and smooth..."

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6. Posted by MossMan, 24/10/2023 11:25

"@Wokingchap: "The Americans, and some European countries, could take some advice from the French whose A roads have repair patches all over them but are absolutely smooth...... unbelievably smooth."

I was just in the mountains of southern Poland and I think they might have the best road surface I have ever experienced (likely EU-funded, I noted drily at the time of the election). While on an 8km trek (on foot) into the hills we noticed there had been a landslide with trees strewn all over the place above and below the road, yet the road itself was spotless, smooth and black as far as the eye could see. Either it was so strong it had survived trees bouncing off it completely unscathed or they were able to fix up the road post-rockfall so perfectly that there was literally no seam between the old and new surfaces (and I was looking hard!).

Seems they should send some Polish roadworkers to Texas... :-)"

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7. Posted by Chester, 23/10/2023 20:04

"Don't know, Dirt. I do know areas west of the North-South Interstate 35 are hilly and rocky, while areas east of Interstate 35 (and COTA is east) are softer dirt and flat.

Given the airport is quite close to COTA and is not a bumpy mess, I doubt there is really a calamity to deal with. I do know the North-South 130 high speed road that passes right by COTA is cement and some heaving has occurred in the road.

I have run 130 for runs of 50 miles at a time with fellow car guys hitting a sustained 150 mph. No issue for my Cayman suspension but I've seen my fellow drivers in Audi S5's bounce a bit. Again the road is no calamity.

And if the Porsche Club can run twice annual schnellfest's at COTA, then F1 teams can run there also. But then again I live in Texas, a Can Do state.

"

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8. Posted by Dirt, 23/10/2023 15:44

"@Chester: I live in the Kansas City area and experience similar weather conditions. And don't get me wrong, I'm not preaching against CotA, just pessimistic that any real solution to the bumps will be extremely expensive and complex.

I am parroting to an extent. I'm a mechanical engineer, but have had enough design and construction exposure to civil/structural site prep I understand the problem and am able to expand on it a bit."

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9. Posted by Chester, 23/10/2023 15:16

"Maybe you will get your wish, Dirt. Las Vegas and Miami are always options. I'm not a fatalist so I'll continue on in my bliss. If F1 leaves my home town that is life. At least I won't be crowded out when I go to the track.

BTW, do you live in Central Texas, or are you just parroting what you've heard the pundits say? "

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10. Posted by Dirt, 23/10/2023 15:00

"The problem with CotA is the underlying soil, which, due to it's content and composition, expands/contracts/heaves with moisture levels. It's a huge problem because, no matter how many times the track is resurfaced, the soil underneath will continue to move about. Even if one were to excavate down 10 ft and replace the underlayment with a different, stable soil (which is essentially what they did in 2022 between T2 and T10), the soil below would eventually cause more bumps. I'm not sure there's a long term solution to the track's bumps other than to abandon CotA for another track on a more stable geological base."

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11. Posted by Wokingchap, 23/10/2023 13:30

"The Americans, and some European countries, could take some advice from the French whose A roads have repair patches all over them but are absolutely smooth...... unbelievably smooth."

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