Miami Grand Prix circuit designers have revealed a sequence of the track is “right on the limitations” of FIA track regulations.
Formula 1’s newest circuit will make its debut at the weekend with the Miami International Autodrome being used in earnest for the first time.
The layout winds its way around Miami Gardens and has been built in the vicinity of the Hard Rock Stadium – home of the NFL’s Miami Dolphins.
But the most technical section of the track, heading through Turns 11-16, caused something of a headache for Apex Designs, the UK-based firm who came up with the circuit layout.
A tight left-hander opens out into a double right that is off-camber for the cars. But the trickiest part of the lap comes at Turns 14 and 15, an uphill left-right chicane which then plunges down towards Turn 16 leading onto the long back straight.
Because of how the land lies and the close proximity to an overpass on Florida’s Turnpike road, FIA regulations needed to be studied carefully when Apex put the design together – with the short drop down to Turn 16 ending up being a key requirement of the design.
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“This whole sequence was a real engineering challenge,” said lead design engineer Andrew Wallis, quoted by Motorsport.com.
“[Apex Designs founder] Clive Bowen’s concept design required us to route the track through this zone and for us to get beneath the first overpass, we had to meet the FIA regulation that requires at least four metres of clearance. But as we have to tie into the levels of the Turnpike slip road that has a 7% crossfall, our track surface was climbing just at the point where we needed it to be falling.
“There is also an F1 regulation about the rate of change of elevation linked to the square of the speed of the car, so this design basically threads the needle in three dimensions to ensure the cars go slowly enough to align with the camber of the crossing and then get back under the overpass.
“We have created this pretty dramatic corner sequence where you have a sharp chicane, which has a minimum design speed of 80kph to meet the rate of change regulation, and it’s also completely blind for the drivers because of the elevation change. We simulated over 10 design iterations here to achieve the 2D and 3D geometry required to thread the needle.
“We are right on the limitations of design in this area. In this location, we are having to install the debris fence from behind the barrier because there is no room to lift the debris fence over the barrier.
“I think the T11-T16 sequence features some great corners and hopefully the drivers will find it challenging with the new cars. They will have to prepare while they are coming through the previous right-hander, so not only can you not see the apex you will have a lateral load on the car under braking, while spotting the apex late to make the corner. In qualifying, I think it will be a truly make-or-break corner for the overall lap time.”
Opposition to the Miami Grand Prix was recently defeated in a last-minute court case brought with the aim of getting the race cancelled due to noise concerns from local residents.