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Miami F1 track changes allowed designers to go “a little bit mad”

The Miami International Autodrome is situated within the campus of the Hard Rock Stadium as a semi-permanent circuit, ensuring the complex can return to hosting its traditional sporting events once the F1 weekend is over.

A number of proposals for a race in Miami faced opposition – including hosting a race downtown – and the original track layout at the Hard Rock Stadium was also subject to pushback due to its use of 199th Street.

It prompted organisers to take the decision not to incorporate 199th Street due to the concerns raised by local residents about the disruption it would cause.

Instead of using the road, the track layout was made tighter at what is now Turn 8 following a series of esses between Turn 4 and Turn 7. Turn 8 then sets up a 1.4km run to Turn 11, negotiating the complex used for the Miami Open tennis tournament that finished in early April.

“We had to change a lot when 199th Street wasn’t credible as an option,” said Clive Bowen, the founder of Apex Circuit Design that designed the track.

“But that introduced the opportunity for us to go a little bit mad. So instead of us going through the west [parking] lot and onto 199th Street, we turned a little tighter and navigated around the western gondola station.

“Then we drive straight through the centre of Miami Open tennis complex, which was unpopular as you can imagine.

“So we had to work out how to engineer that, get the levels to work, get the drainage to work, get the relationships between the courts to still work, build the track before the tennis open itself was open to operate.

“Once the tennis open was finished, we had to very quickly clear their apparatus away and convert it into the circuit.”

A view of the track

A view of the track

Photo by: Zak Mauger / Motorsport Images

The track design pays homage to a number of existing circuits on the F1 calendar. Bowen compared Turn 8 to the Beausset corner at Paul Ricard, and felt the following high-speed run to Turn 11 was similar to the final sector in Baku.

Exiting Turn 11, a stadium section is intended to give a tip of the hat to the Foro Sol in Mexico City. The tight sequence going downhill from the chicane into Turn 16 is also meant to punish mistakes for any drivers running wide, similar to the Wall of Champions in Montreal.

One recent change made to the circuit was the removal of the kerbs through Turns 6 and 7, prompted by Mick Schumacher’s high-speed crash in Jeddah, where he lost control of his Haas car after running wide through the quick sequence.

“Instead have a flat kerb base that’s painted to look like a kerb, so that if someone runs wide, we don’t have the same beaching problem,” Bowen explained.

Bowen felt optimistic the sequence between Turn 4 and Turn 7 would see drivers remain capable of staying close to each other thanks to the new generation of cars. The Miami track is the first to have been designed specifically with the 2022-spec cars in mind.

“That sequence is really quite challenging for the car,” Bowen said. “For the previous generation of F1 cars, that would also have resulted in the cars separating. But because of the ’22 generation, we have the high ground effect and reduced turbulence over the bodywork, which means the cars can run close to each other.

“We had a big collaborative effort with Formula 1 and their technical personnel to understand what the dynamics of these cars would be, and we designed the track accommodating that expected ground effect era.

“So our hopes are that the cars will stay in close station through to the exit of Turn 8, where they can then run to Turn 11.”

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