Liberty evaluating F1 circuit design tweaks to improve racing

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Formula 1 chief Ross Brawn has revealed that Liberty Media is investigating whether changes to grand prix track layouts are needed over the next few years to help improve the racing.

While research is ramping up about tweaks to car designs – to make overtaking easier by allowing cars to follow each other more closely – it has emerged that a parallel project has begun looking at how track designs can be bettered too.

Brawn, who is managing director of motorsports at F1, says that if the sport can better understand what makes a good track for racing, then current venues can be tweaked.

Speaking about potential long-term changes to the sport to improve overtaking, he said: "The aerodynamic programme is now starting to pick up pace, and the work on circuit development is happening.

"We have already got engaged with some circuits about possible modifications to improve racing."

Motorsport.com recently revealed that Melbourne considered changing a section of its circuit to add an overtaking spot, but in the end elected against the idea for now because it was not convinced the tweaks would definitely improve matters.

Brawn said the Liberty investigation involves looking back through F1 history to understand what elements are needed to produce the kind of racing that fans actually like.

"We have started looking in our archives," he said. "Were there periods of racing where there was more overtaking? Are there tracks where there is more overtaking? So you can do a statistical analysis.

"The thing you have to be careful of is that overtaking isn't good racing. You have got to start to think about what is good racing – and it is two cars fighting each other.

"It may mean the guy in front stays in front but you can have some great racing going on. It is a little bit more complex than the number of overtakes, counting the number of overtakes.

"What we are seeing so far is the ability to take different lines through corners is quite important to help racing.

"So if you have got a hairpin and it is a narrow track, it is not that great. If you have a hairpin and it is a wide track, where there can be some different lines going into it, then you can get something happening.

"Austin, I think, would fall into the category of where there is a complex of corners. So, you take a line on one corner going in, and then you start to force the defending car to start taking different lines. And then eventually you come out in the right place. That is what we are looking at."

Brawn also said that track surface was a factor too in helping the racing, with smooth, low degradation asphalt not conducive to good entertainment.

"The surface is quite important to the racing because the type of surface can create degradation and a reasonable degree of tyre degradation is helpful to racing because you start to get performance differentials," he said.

"It doesn't want to be the band aid to fix it. But if you look at circuits with very low degradation, like Sochi, the racing there is challenging and it is one stop. The tyres don't go off, so away you go. There are no performance differentials created.

"If you look at some of the great races we have had this year, there have often been tyres involved in terms of degradation levels, so the guy defending – like [Kimi] Raikkonen, defending on tyres that were not as good as the tyres Max [Verstappen] had attacking him. The surface is quite a factor in terms of the racing you get."

 

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