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Friday, December 1, 2023

The “drawback” which created the steep bends

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“It began with an issue.“ That is how monitor supervisor Niek Oude Luttikhuis describes the primary talks with System 1 a few doable return to Zandvoort. And that’s the story of this drawback, a rare concept and its implementation. Or in a nutshell: How the F1 monitor in Zandvoort acquired its steep curves.

Such a factor had not but been a subject in 2018, however when Zandvoort first put out its feelers within the course of F1 once more, Max Verstappen had already received a handful of grands prix and was nicely on his method to turning into a hero within the Netherlands. So why not arrange a house race for the upcoming famous person?

What the ‘Verstappen impact’ may obtain had already been seen at F1 circuits overseas – and in addition on the Jumbo Race Days in Zandvoort, the place hundreds watched Verstappen do demo laps in an F1 automobile. A race of its personal appeared like the following logical step.

F1 noticed attraction in it. “However they did not wish to signal a contract with us as a result of we did not have an extended straight and subsequently no lengthy DRS zone that might have favoured overtaking – like on virtually all newly constructed tracks,” says Luttikhuis.

The Bahrain Worldwide Circuit, for instance of a contemporary grand prix circuit, has a straight that’s a couple of kilometre lengthy. Zandvoort, alternatively, got here in at solely 700 metres.

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So, what may very well be completed to fulfill the necessities of F1? “The simplest factor would have been to increase the straight,” says Luttikhuis, “however that is not doable in Zandvoort. As a result of on one aspect there are sand dunes price defending and on the opposite aspect the city of Zandvoort. We couldn’t lengthen the straight.”

F1 administration subsequently steered activating the drag discount system (DRS) already within the Arie-Luyendyk curve, within the ending curve. “However with that we had the issue that the permissible centrifugal forces would have been exceeded within the ending bend,” says Luttikhuis. “The vehicles would merely have turn out to be too quick on the exit of the bend.”

So different approaches have been mentioned, 15 totally different choices in all. “One suggestion, for instance, was to make the nook earlier than it extraordinarily gradual, virtually like a 90-degree bend. That will permit the vehicles to return out of that nook very slowly, which in flip may permit the usage of DRS within the ending nook,” explains Luttikhuis.

Renovations on the Dutch race monitor in Zandvoort 2020

Photograph by: Chris Schotanus

However calculations confirmed that the essential drawback remained in every case. The centrifugal forces on the exit of the ending bend would have been increased than F1 specs allowed. Zandvoort was confronted with a dilemma.

“However sooner or later I assumed: ‘Why do not we do it like in Indianapolis and put in a steep curve’,” says Luttikhuis. “As a result of then a number of the forces could be directed downwards.”

What impressed him to take this method? “I have been to Monza earlier than, additionally on the banking. However did I’ve that in thoughts? I do not know. Perhaps I used to be additionally impressed by the electrical automobile racing monitor I used to have as somewhat boy!”

A method or one other the Zandvoort monitor supervisor quickly submitted the thought to F1. “I acquired a solution on the identical day. The tenor: ‘Sure, that may very well be the answer! We have been imagined to create a simulation. And that is the place the architects and engineers from Dromo got here in.”

How did Jarno Zaffelli, founder and CEO of Dromo, react when he heard concerning the uncommon proposal for a steep curve? “I used to be downright ecstatic,” says the Italian. “I assumed to myself, ‘lastly there was somebody who was totally obsessed with it, come what could’, as a result of typically it’s important to be somewhat loopy.”

He was instantly fascinated by the technical problem: “It was about nearly extending the straight, however with out altering the monitor format. So in precept we needed to develop a brand new type of monitor, with utterly totally different key figures, with a barely totally different twist.”

Luttikhuis and Zaffelli have been instantly on the identical wavelength. “For those who react positively when confronted with one thing new, then you have already got perspective,” says Luttikhuis. “Then you realize, this firm thinks such as you and never first of potential issues. Dromo has merely taken on this activity.”

Zaffelli admits: “Constructing a steep curve on this manner was a primary for us. We had already designed one thing comparable for a take a look at web site and for smaller initiatives, however each undertaking is particular person. Meaning each time is a primary time, no resolution might be constructed 1:1 elsewhere. Each design is a prototype.”

Renovations at the Dutch race track in Zandvoort 2020

Renovations on the Dutch race monitor in Zandvoort 2020

Photograph by: Circuit Park Zandvoort

However Dromo did discover inspiration elsewhere. “Step one was to search for examples. Each steep curve in Europe, together with the very first ones like at Monza, Brooklands or Sitges-Terramar. As a result of the query is easy methods to form banking.”

And for Zandvoort, Dromo must attain into the bag of methods twice, in numerous methods; the ultimate bend ought to permit the usage of DRS, the Hugenholtz-Bocht [Turn 3] ought to be a spectacular eye-catcher and a further, extraordinary overtaking spot.

“This can be a distinctive passage for System 1 tracks,” says Zaffelli. “That is why we name Zandvoort a ‘hypertrack’, as a result of there’s nothing prefer it but.”

Zaffelli continues: “We needed to have totally different angles of inclination in Flip 3 and subsequently we additionally had to concentrate to the monitor top within the curves earlier than and after. It’s a must to take all that into consideration throughout building.

“The fascinating factor about steep bends is that the banking itself isn’t the issue, however the driving into and out of the bends. Up to now, this transition was often troublesome to handle. However my engineers at Zandvoort have created a masterpiece.”

Not solely is the placement of the monitor within the North Sea dunes distinctive, but additionally the floor on which the monitor rests: Sand. And its load-bearing capability is a think about how it may be constructed. “It varies by the ocean relying on the tides,” says Zaffelli. “And also you then additionally should handle to empty rainwater.”

All this below the premise of not interfering an excessive amount of with the course, as Luttikhuis emphasises: “Zandvoort is an old-school circuit, and we needed to protect that look. That meant any adjustments shouldn’t make the monitor extra boring, however extra thrilling. And we did not wish to find yourself with a carpark with vibrant traces.”

These have been the specs with which Dromo launched into the F1 undertaking at Zandvoort. From January to August 2019, the Italian firm created a number of simulations and did preliminary work. “My total crew was concerned,” says Zaffelli. However the efforts of his 15 workers paid off and the FIA permitted the designs for implementation.

Renovations at the Dutch race track in Zandvoort 2020

Renovations on the Dutch race monitor in Zandvoort 2020

Photograph by: Chris Schotanus

However there have been doubts: “There have been sceptics within the accountable fee. For instance, somebody mentioned that it couldn’t be constructed this fashion,” says Zaffelli.

Luttikhuis was additionally confronted with resistance: “Some had no confidence within the information. Others had issues as a result of they knew what had occurred within the Indianapolis Grand Prix within the steep corners.”

For some observers, the recollections of those incidents have been too recent: In 2004, Ralf Schumacher had crashed within the steep bend after a puncture and suffered a concussion. In 2005, the Michelin-shod groups couldn’t begin the race because of security issues, and solely six Bridgestone vehicles raced.

“There have been reservations,” says Luttikhuis. And with that, it was as much as Zandvoort and Dromo to persuade the doubters of the feasibility of their concepts by making the undertaking a actuality.

That occurred on the finish of 2019 and starting of 2020: “We solely wanted 4 months from November to February for the entire building section,” says Zaffelli. “And you’ll think about what the season meant.” Specifically, single-digit temperature values, double-digit wet days monthly in addition to the fewest sunshine hours within the 12 months.

Round 200 employees from Dromo, Zandvoort and an area building service supplier have been concerned within the building section. “Due to our good preparation, we did it in that point,” says Zaffelli.

Simply how huge the modifications actually have been is proven by the instance of Flip 3. “There we selected a steep flip as a result of we wanted extra space behind it for the passage between paddock one and paddock two,” explains Luttikhuis.

Zaffelli: “We raised Flip 2 barely, lowered Flip 3 barely and raised Flip 4 barely once more. As well as, we moved Flip 3 by a complete of 16 metres, however this meant a internet achieve in area of solely two metres because of banking, security constructions and the like. However in return, Zandvoort now has a singular promoting level with this curve.”

Renovations at the Dutch race track in Zandvoort 2020

Renovations on the Dutch race monitor in Zandvoort 2020

Photograph by: Chris Schotanus

Luttikhuis can verify that. He says the 2 steep corners did “a number of good” for Zandvoort proper from the beginning. “We already had a number of members on the first race after the reopening. The frenzy was huge.”

However the steep curves usually are not solely widespread with racers: “Vacationers additionally come over and check out the banking. They’re at all times drawn there on monitor walks or excursions. It is a crowd puller, day and night time. Most individuals simply wish to stand within the banked curve.”

These accountable had not anticipated such enthusiasm. “For us, the steep curves have been a necessity. And we thought it could be cool,” says Luttikhuis. However the expectations have been exceeded in each respect.

Just one factor “did not work out as deliberate”, Zaffelli admits with fun: “I misplaced a guess in opposition to an F1 technician.”

The guess was whether or not overtaking would happen within the new Flip 3. “He mentioned nobody would overtake at this level, I disagreed. And naturally: within the first 12 months [2021] there have been no overtaking manoeuvres in Flip 3.” So the guess was misplaced for Zaffelli.

“We had designed the curve for the brand new vehicles, not the {old} ones. And from the second 12 months onwards [under the new F1 regulations] overtaking really befell in Flip 3. However that did not assist me any extra for the guess.”

The postponement of the brand new technical laws in F1 from 2021 to 2022 was additionally a motive why DRS was not allowed at its full extension within the first 12 months in Zandvoort on the principle straight, as a result of the plan was tailor-made to the brand new technology of vehicles.

The transition from flat monitor to steep curve was subsequently designed in such a manner that as many automobiles with 4 wheels as doable can deal with it. The format is just unsuitable for motorbikes as a result of “steep curves usually are not for two-wheelers,” says Zaffelli.

Renovations at the Dutch race track in Zandvoort 2020

Renovations on the Dutch race monitor in Zandvoort 2020

Photograph by: Chris Schotanus

However steep curves are very a lot a subject for different race tracks in Europe. Zandvoort has proven that and Dromo senses it from the demand: “We now get a number of calls from individuals who have turn out to be conscious of us by way of Flip 3,” says Zaffelli. He and his crew presently have a number of tracks with steep bends “within the pipeline”.

Zaffelli doesn’t reveal which initiatives are concerned intimately. Solely this a lot: The deliberate F1 circuit in Madrid may additionally embody a steep curve “as a result of there, similar to in Zandvoort, the FIA specs for lateral forces are exceeded. We’re subsequently attempting to resolve the passage in the same manner as at Zandvoort.”

However Zaffelli emphasises once more that there is not going to be a direct copy to observe. “Each case is exclusive and the elements are too totally different in every case anyway.”

Within the quick time period, Dromo has different duties at Zandvoort. Earlier than the 2023 F1 race, some bumps needed to be eliminated and adjustments made to the FIA catch fences. “Nothing main,” emphasises monitor supervisor Luttikhuis.

Within the medium time period, nevertheless, excavators might be shifting into Zandvoort once more: “After the grand prix, we are going to lengthen the pitlane.

That is to offer the person vehicles extra space in the course of the pitstop, explains Zaffelli. “Apart from that, we have not actually needed to do a lot because the conversion.” And that speaks for the monitor and steep curve design of the primary “hypertrack”.

Or as Luttikhuis places it: “Our steep curves are one thing new, and they’re very nicely acquired.”

Renovations at the Dutch race track in Zandvoort 2020

Renovations on the Dutch race monitor in Zandvoort 2020

Photograph by: Chris Schotanus

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