USGP check-in: Tilke not worried about deadlines

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U.S. Grand Prix track designer Hermann Tilke is not worried about the looming deadline to get work started — and completed — in Austin, Texas, in time for the planned 2012 race.

Tilke assuages fears in a story this week in the Austin American-Statesman, which continues to keep on top of the planned track’s construction. (I also assume that the specific online links to “Formula 1” are new since the race site’s announcement.)

The story, basically, is a look at Tilke and his engineering firm. If you want to know more about him, check it out. If not, here are a few excerpts that hit on some popular F1B topics:

“Designing a track is always a new adventure. From the first draft to the first race, it usually takes several years of hard work,” Tilke said.

Tilke tries to design courses in a manner that challenges the racers as much as possible.

Although his firm is successful, Tilke sometimes attracts criticism for his work. Some fans complain that his courses are not fast enough or do not give drivers the chance to pass.

Tilke has a different opinion.

“Some races have a lot of action, others not. That is the same in every sport,” he said.

A track designer is obligated to build the course to be as safe as possible, he said.

FIA, the Paris-based governing body for world motor sports, mandates some track features in new courses, such as runoff areas for out-of-control cars.

“Racing is very dangerous, and nobody wants dead or injured drivers,” Tilke said.

And technical reasons can get in the way of what fans might demand.

“Fans always want fast curves,” he said. “But these curves are counterproductive for passing.”

In fast curves, the turbulence the cars produce — what racers call dirty air — makes it difficult for trailing drivers to pass. Slower curves are far better for passing, Tilke said: “For sure, you need fast curves. But for passing, the best design is to have a slow curve, a long straightaway and then another slow curve.”

So good to know he used “For sure,” too. I’m relieved.

There also is this:

Although Tilke has not been to Austin, he is excited about the Austin circuit, especially because of the hilly land. The 3.4-mile track has 20 turns and a maximum elevation change of 133 feet, meaning the course will include dips and crests.

“The third dimension comes into the game. This is going to be very exciting for the drivers and for the fans,” he said.

Now, if only Tilke could get the fourth dimension involved, we might have something really to cheer about.

He can’t mess this up, right?

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