Miami GP track designer 'embarrassed' by F1 driver complaints

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Miami International Autodrome designer Clive Bowen admits he was "embarrassed" by complaints from Formula 1 drivers during the recent Grand Prix weekend.

F1 held a largely successful first event at a circuit built on the grounds around Hard Rock Stadium just over a week ago, with Max Verstappen claiming victory ahead of the two Ferraris.

However, feedback wasn't all positive with drivers voicing displeasure about the fiddly "B&Q car park" chicane around Turns 14-16.

“I think it’s a chicane that with this generation of cars that are heavy, that are wide, just when you go around those two apex kerbs, it almost feels like you need a bit of luck to get around it and you sometimes get it on a weird angle and the car bounces a lot,” Carlos Sainz explained.

“It’s a corner that is just a bit unnatural and it’s a corner that I think it can be easily manipulated to look a bit different and create a better combination, you know."


World champion Verstappen added: “If I would have been in a go-kart it would be a nice chicane to take but not in an F1 car as we have at the moment.

“It’s just not made for it to be honest."

Commenting on the complaints, Miami GP managing partner Tom Garfinkel replied... “I think the challenge with the [turn 14/15] chicane and I don’t know that we communicated well enough why it exists and where it exists.

“It was a bit of a necessary evil, if you will, to get the track big enough to allow the rest of the layout to be great.

“That’s an area where it’s a tricky part because we have to really slow people down because we didn’t have enough run-off space.

“I think from talking to some folks at F1 and the FIA, I think there’s an opportunity to maybe change that a little bit to make it better. But it’s a bit of a necessary evil through there to get them to slow down.”

Another talking point was the track surface which was unique to F1 but led to complaints about the lack of grip off-line.

“We heard before coming here that these stones from Georgia, they are the best in the world, and it’s one of the best tarmacs in the world, and it’s a disaster,” said Esteban Ocon via Motorsport Week.

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“We cannot overtake. Mick [Schumacher] touched with Seb [Vettel] partly because of that. You cannot do a dive on the inside of anybody – when you go off-line you lose half a second.

“There is only one line. It’s not working at all. We should go to the tarmac like in Jeddah.”

Speaking to MotorSport Magazine, circuit designer Clive Bowen admitted the complaints, while expected, still went to his heart.

“Actually, it was embarrassment on my part personally, because there’s a lot of time invested in getting this right," he said. “There’s professional pride involved, isn’t there?

“There was a lot of research undertaken. We didn’t go off-piste, it was conventional thinking, it was conventional engineering and you’ve got to remind yourself that first races at venues often have this happen.

“It was the same at COTA, it was the same as Singapore, it was the same at Istanbul when it was resurfaced.

"So if you think of it from that perspective, it’s just a question of waiting for the track to mature. It’s a brand new piece of asphalt, and it needs to do its thing.”

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At the same time, Bowen was also happy with the type of racing that materialised in the race, with 45 overtakes taking place, the second-highest this season.

“I think that the theory of the design was borne out in the reality of the race,” he added.

“I was pleased about that because obviously, on Friday and Saturday, with the track being so dirty, it was concerning that we weren’t getting to where we wanted to be.

“But it’s interesting that [during the race] there were multiple lines, there was overtaking on corners. And many of the things that people were criticising, they were actually probably looking at the wrong thing. It’s like binoculars, which side are they looking from?”