We all know there are certain circuits on the calendar which could use some improving- if not scrapping all together! However, money talks in F1, and thus we can't count on the FIA dropping tracks like Abu Dhabi or Sochi any time soon. Tommo did a good job showing how he would adjust the bad circuits in F1 to improve the racing we see on them. These are my thoughts on his ideas:
Circuit Paul Ricard
Tommo correctly identifies Turns 3-5 to be a boring issue, and that the final sector harms overtaking. Paul Ricard has all the space in the world to make adjustments, so let's see what he does:
This is his fix:
He creates a Monza turn 1 type chicane for turn 3 to establish an overtaking opportunity and reduce dirty air, followed by two, what I guess would be, semi-flat out right-hand turns. He then sharpens turn 11 to again reduce dirty and removes 14 for the same reason. He then adds what he describes to be a wall of champions chicane to end the lap in an exciting manner, which sounds super cool and would 100% spice up the lap and be a great end to qualifying runs.
Here's how I would do it:
I would make turn 3 a simple hairpin, nulling dirty air and creating a real opportunity for overtaking if the attacking driver can compromise the driver ahead through 1&2 by making them defend. I would then propose no chicane and no DRS down the back straight to allow great, natural slipstream action, meaning some awesome side by side moments through turn 10. Hopefully Alonso- esc 130R overtakes could occur here! I would then keep turn 11 as it is, loving the challenge of the long, late apex corner, acknowledging some dirty air can be allowed here after creating very little throughout the lap prior to this. I would then stick with Tommo's last chicane idea, giving the end of the lap an excellent thrill. Turns 10,11 and 13 (now 4,5 and 6) will be awesome to watch the cars go through, and turns 1,3 and 10 (now 1,3 and 4) will create an abundance of overtaking. This will take LeCastellet from being one of the worst, to one of the best tracks on the calendar.
One terrible circuit. Turns 2 to 5 are great: overtakes into 2, great side by side action round 4, and the completing of any moves into 5. However, the rest is dull, dull and dull again. There is very little wiggle room with this one, with the circuit being strictly limited by the infrastructure of the Winter Olympic Park it is built round.
He gives it a great go though:
He rightly keeps turns 1-5 the same. He then creates some excitement by opening up turn 8, taking it from another boring corner displaying Tilke's romance with angles and instead makes it faster and thus improves the flow of the middle sector, with an exhilarating 6th/ 7th gear turn. He then uses the nothing corner of turn 9 as a way to prevent excess dirty air. This chicane won't make the track any more fun to drive, but it will prevent a useless corner making overtaking harder. Instead, it is now a useless corner which aids overtaking. The heavy breaking zone might give the occasional opportunity for a lunge up the inside, but most importantly will help the cars follow more closely up to the DRS zone on the back straight. Tommo's best changes are for the last sector, where he cuts out the pointless, again dirty-air inducing chicane, and aids closer following through the final two turns by making one slower, and one flat. Again, this turns two nothing corners into turns which aid overtaking. They will mean possible overtakes into the penultimate corner, and also mean the cars will be at a faster speed when activating DRS, ensuring it will be even more effective.
Here's how I would do it:
Exactly how he has done! In terms of space, there is nothing left to do. His ideas have done everything possible to make Sochi a good F1 track, probably nothing special, but a lot better than it is today.
Perhaps the most infamous one of all. The circuit we all wish would move aside, and allow us to enjoy an Interlagos finale, rather than an anti-climactic bore fest. Again we are restricted with changes, with it effectively being a street circuit. However, there is definitely more room for change here than with Sochi. To sum this track up in one sentence, as Kimi Raikonnen once said: 'The first few turns are good but the rest of it is sh*t'
Let's see if Tommo was able to change that:
Tommo removes turn 5 and 6 in order to free up turn 6 for overtaking. An obvious choice right? Well unfortunately this is not possible, due to Ferrari world and the grandstand meaning there is not enough runoff to the have the cars go full belt into the hairpin, meaning the chicane is a necessity. Frustrating, I know. However, unfortunately, this edit is not realistically possible. Again, the hotel prevents his second edition being viable as well.
Let's take a look at the alterations we could make to realistically improve this track:
Obviously Turns 1-4 would remain the same. However, I wanted to be more creative with turn 5. There is an abundance of space on the run from 4-5 with multiple layout options already there. None of these would work for F1 very well, but creating a new one in this space would. It would cost very little and is therefore a no brainer. We would have the choice, whether to make it a wide, open 180* corner like Spain turn 4, or if we would want to tighten it like China's hairpin at the end of the back straight. Either way, it will be better than the horrible complex of corners we currently see.
We then come to the alteration I have done in red, as this an option to use the 'North layout' skipping out the rest of the circuit, and leaving what is now definitely the best half by itself. It would be a short layout, but one full of great sweeping turns and with a great overtaking opportunity at the end of the back straight. With the final two turns being flat out, a DRS zone along the home straight could also be effective, with the cars travelling down it at a higher speed than normal.
If we were to stick with the full layout, so that the owners could show off their hotel (which is basically the whole point of the track) I would suggest a hairpin half way down the second of the two long back straights. Whilst this cuts out some of the straight, it will also cut out the horrible turns which follow it. It would then be impossible to alter the last 4 turns, however, banking them like the turns at Mugello could be an option to help the cars follow through it, rather than continuing to have the negative camber through the turns which makes it so awkward to follow behind another car.
This one isn't as bad as the others, but still a track I would be happy to see leave the calendar. F1 testing here annually means the teams have too much data for an unpredictable race, and it is simply too hard to overtake here. Not to mention the final chicane is the most depressing bit of race track the whole world has ever seen (other than the chicane at Eau Rouge once perhaps).
Can Tommo improve this layout?
He sure can. He keeps turns 1-4, which like Abu Dhabi and Russia, are a strong start to the lap. The most important improvement is the penultimate turn. It loses the boring 90* right hander and the awful chicane, and ensures the cars will activate DRS at a far higher speed. Overtaking into Turn 1 would then be far more common. His other alteration is interesting and one which I hadn't thought about before. He uses his previous idea of taking useless corners and ensuring they're not simply there as dirty air creators. It also helps his design philosophy he mentions, of attempting to ensure every circuit has 3 overtaking opportunities, which I am behind all the way. I am also glad he keeps turn 9 the way it is, being one of my favourite turns on the calendar: an uphill, blind, fast sweeping right-hander.
Can it me made any better?
I would personally take turn 7 in a different direction and make it flat to increase the speed of entry at turn 9, making the turn even more incredible, with the cars possibly entering it in 8th gear. Finally, I would just extend the back straight a little, as every little helps with DRS. There is ample run off to do so, so why not? With this, I would of course keep Tommo's adjustment to the now penultimate corner. Moves into turn 1, and thus possible action following this through 2,3 and 4, would increase. Turn 9 would be even cooler, and the chance of more overtaking into 10 could maybe be helped, with less dirty air from the removed 90* left of turn 7 and a little longer period of time with help from DRS and the slipstream.
Let me know what alterations you would make in the comments and if there are any more tracks you think need improving like these. I think most of the other circuits on the calendar are strong, at least B-tier, but I do reckon China, Australia, Mexico and Bahrain could perhaps all use a few layout improvements.
Hope you all enjoyed the article. My first one on the site! Would be great to hear your feedback below.