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Why Miami’s ‘necessary evil’ F1 chicane won’t be an easy fix in 2023

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This is because the location of the chicane and the tight sequence of corners around it were effectively imposed on the organizers due to its geographic location under the Turnpike freeway bridges.

As the project’s lead design engineer, Andrew Wallis, put it, the design had to “thread the needle” to meet FIA track safety regulations.

UK-based track specialists Apex Circuit Design designed the 5.41-kilometre counter-clockwise circuit around Hard Rock Stadium.

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Its twistiest section was Turns 13-16, which snaked around the on-ramps and off-ramps and under the elevated sections of the Florida Turnpike and NW 203rd Street.

FIA regulations regarding the clearance of structures above the track surface meant that the design had to pass under the two flyovers, shortly after rising 11 feet to cross the southbound on-ramp, creating a crest at the chicane of turn 14-15.

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Race winner Max Verstappen commented: “I think if it had been in a kart it would be a good chicane, but not in an F1 car like we have at the moment.”

Runner-up Charles Leclerc added: “I think I’m the only driver on the grid who really liked this chicane. I loved it.

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The infrastructure around the circuit limited the options for the track designers

Photo by: Zak Mauger/Motorsport Images

“But on the other hand I agree that for racing action I think we can do better because following was not easy on that part, also for visibility it’s quite difficult once you have a car in front because you need to be so precise on the curbs.”

Wallis told Autosport before the event that “this whole sequence was a real engineering challenge”.

He said: “In order for us to go under the first flyover we had to comply with the FIA ​​regulation which requires at least four meters of clearance, but as we have to join the levels of the Turnpike slip road which has a 7% transverse dip, our track surface was rising right at the point where we needed it to be dropping.

“There’s also an F1 regulation on the rate of elevation change tied to the square of the car’s speed, so this design basically threads the needle in three dimensions to ensure the cars are going slow enough to line up with the pitch of the car. auto. cross and then go back under the overpass.

For these geographical reasons, the chicane had to have a minimum design speed of 80 km/h to comply with the rate-of-change regulation, and the lack of visibility stemmed from the blind ridge.

Miami GP managing partner Tom Garfinkel said organizers could perhaps have done a better job of communicating exactly why the chicane was designed that way.

“I think the challenge with the Chicana and I don’t know if we communicate well enough why it exists and where it exists,” he said.

“It was a necessary evil, if you will, to make the track big enough for the rest of the racetrack to be cool.

“That’s one area where it’s a tricky part, because we really have to slow people down because we didn’t have enough escape room.”

Leclerc said he was one of the few drivers who enjoyed the challenge of the chicane.

Leclerc said he was one of the few drivers who enjoyed the challenge of the chicane.

Photo By: Jerry Andre/Motorsport Images

However, with Garfinkel confirming that the organizers will see what they can do in the future, there may be ways to improve it.

Asked by Autosport how the Miami GP promoter intends to review and improve the event in the future, its COO Tyler Epp replied: “The biggest challenge over the last year was the tight schedule, so we are taking care of this immediately to try to get decisions made for next year as soon as possible.

“We collected information/feedback from F1, the FIA, the drivers and teams, and customers/fans over the weekend. There will be a follow-up with them in the coming weeks on any items that they feel could be improved.

“We’re having internal meetings all this week and next week to recap everything and see where we need to make changes for the better.”

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