There is certainly a part of me that understands Renault F1 boss Cyril Abiteboul’s sentiment when it comes to race tracks not favoring or flattering the current Formula 1 cars. In particular, the recent French Grand Prix is being used as an example of how desperately dull a F1 race can be but Cyril says the teams can help with that.
“I would maybe change one or two corners, at each track. it would be much more cost efficient, and much better for the sport.
“I know that they have put a lot of engineering effort into Vietnam. But it’s something where we could all collectively think ‘what would be good for F1?’”
“To give you an example, because it’s a race that’s obviously important to us, the French GP.
“There was some tough criticism after the race, because it turned into a procession.
“We tried to make it a bit interesting towards the end, and were penalised for that!
“So what we’ve done is some simulations of alternative configurations of how to make it more interesting.
“I would like to see more getting together from the teams in engineering some solutions and some improvements for the tracks.
“If 10 teams were to collaborate on improving tracks I’m sure we could come up with some fantastic results, and we don’t need to wait for 2021 for that. That would be next year already.”
Track changes are not taboo, they’ve happened plenty of times before and in many cases those changes have been safety driven. When famous track architect Herman Tilke began designing circuits, there was a penchant for 45-degree turns that attempted to challenge the cars of the time and so perhaps Abiteboul is merely suggesting that the cars have changed and so to should the tracks.
There is a part of me that suspects if you asked all fo the circuit owners and promoters of all 21 tracks on the F1 calendar which is easier, change the cars or change the tracks, I would submit they will resoundingly suggest that changing the cars is the easier option. I tend to agree with them.
Re-profiling track corners requires resources, assets and time and those three things are hard to come by for track owners and the promoters who are spending most of wha they have to afford an F1 race.
Track economics have to work and while I agree that Cyril and his team may have better ideas on what corners to change in order to flatter the 2019 hybrid-powered F1 car, I would suggest that reducing downforce, eliminating the MGU-H and getting some decent tires might be a cheaper move than filling the hole up at Eau Rogue.
I say that but that is coming from a guy who isn’t as desperate for lap records to be broken as I am to see great racing among great drivers in very quick cars. Yes, I too want F1 to be the pinnacle of motorsport technology and I think you can achieve that while also keeping the cars from making the racing circuit obsolete.
Over time, the tracks and corners that used to be challenging in 1995 are no longer challenging but like we’ve seen at Susuka, 130R isn’t that tough but now Spoon curve is. At Spa, Eau Rogue isn’t tough any more but Pouhon is.
Point is, as cars have changed, different corners on tracks have changed and perhaps this, ultimately, is what Cyril is suggesting. A few tweaks to corners could make them evolve into the new Spoon or Pouhon curve. In that case, it may be worth looking at but I still think it is easier to change the cars and that’s like asking Coke to change their soda so it is always going to be a tough battle.
Hat Tip: Autosport