US GP Benetton preview

Pat Symonds, Technical Director: "Being a new circuit it has been difficult to undertake specific preparation for this Grand Prix. The majority of the preparation is virtual preparation, i.e. computer simulation. However, the team has spent ...

Pat Symonds, Technical Director: "Being a new circuit it has been difficult to undertake specific preparation for this Grand Prix. The majority of the preparation is virtual preparation, i.e. computer simulation. However, the team has spent three days at the Estoril circuit in Portugal last week making some final changes to the engine specification which may be incorporated for the three fly-away races. We have also been getting a first evaluation of the hard tyres which have been specifically designed for the Indianapolis race.

As the circuit is new it is somewhat difficult to predict what will characterise this Grand Prix. Certainly the set up used on the cars presents quite a compromise between the relatively high-speed section of the circuit and the extremely tight infield.

It is expected that all the drivers will be doing a lot of running on Friday in order to learn the circuit and, for the first time, two extra sets of tyres are being allocated for Fridays practice to enable more practice to take place without compromising tyre allocations for qualifying and the race. This is a precursor to the system that will probably be introduced next year. It is difficult at this stage to identify where the possible overtaking points on the circuit are, but it is hoped that slipstreaming on the main straight and the heavy braking into turn 1 will produce an overtaking opportunity. Similarly the back straight, by virtue of the fact it has a slow corner leading on to it, is likely to be a favourite overtaking place with the drivers.

Our initial evaluation of the tyres suggests that they will last very well and this may well lead to a one-stop strategy, however details like this will not be decided until a significant amount of practice has taken place. It is good for Formula One to be back racing in America, particularly in the historic home of American motorsport, Indianapolis. It has been a challenge to the circuit designers to incorporate a Grand Prix track within this high speed oval and extremely imaginative of them to incorporate part of the famous banking into the Formula One track."

A simulated lap of the Indianapolis GP circuit:
"Indianapolis is of course a new circuit to the Formula one teams and we have no direct experience of it. However these days we use a lot of sophisticated simulation techniques to allow us to gain knowledge of the circuit on a computer before we even arrive at the Grand Prix. The lap that is described below is taken from one of these simulations.

The cars will cross the start finish line at well over 300k/h (197mph), reaching a peak speed of over 320k/h (200mph) before braking hard for the first corner, which we think will be taken in 1st gear at around 100k/h (62mph). The second left-hand corner is even tighter and the cars will remain in 1st gear, dropping down to around 65k/h (41mph). From here they will accelerate through the sweeping right hand corner leading to turn 3, which will be taken in 2nd gear at around 110k/h (68mph). A very short straight, where the cars will reach around 230k/h (143mph) leads to the 4th corner, taken in 3rd gear at around 160k/h (100mph).

Corner 5 is a tight, long left-hand corner taken in 2nd gear. The apex tightens up, and while the first part of the corner may be taken at 130k/h (81mph), in the second part the cars will probably drop down to 110k/h (70mph).

It is likely that the drivers will hold second gear for turn 6 which is a right hand corner taken at around 105k/h (66mph) leading onto the back straight. The back straight is considerably shorter than the main straight and the cars will probably reach about 290k/h (181mph) by the end of it before braking hard for turn 7 which is a second gear left hand corner, probably taken at slightly less than 120k/h (74mph). This corner leads into a very tight section of the track as the following corner, turn 8 will be taken in first gear at under 75k/h (46mph) and then immediately into left hand corner also taken in 1st gear at around 80 k/h (50mph). Again a very short straight where the cars will only get up to 3rd gear and probably 200k/h (126mph), leads into turn 10, a right hand second gear corner taken at around 120k/h (75mph).

From this point the fastest section of the track begins with turn 11 being taken in 5th gear at around 250k/h (156mph). The final banked corner turn 12, which leads on to the main straight, should be easily flat at around 310 k/h (194mph). The period between turn 11 and the end of the start finish straight is likely to be full throttle for around 21 seconds which is easily the longest full throttle time found on any Grand Prix circuit, and compares with values of around 16 - 16.5 seconds found at the straights in Hockenheim and Interlagos. Of course while the simulations these days are extremely sophisticated, we do have to assume a certain level of grip from the track and this is the major unknown that we won't be able to asses until first practice begins."

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Series Formula 1
Teams Benetton