Hello Everybody and welcome to a new edition of Steve’s Racing Concepts!
Today I’ll be talking a bit about track design. I talked about this a little while ago when I shared my opinion that Baku is the best circuit in F1 right now. In this SRC, I will dive a little deeper into what I think is a good track design, going through an example that I made up myself, drawing a little inspiration from some current tracks.
Without further delay, let’s dive into it!
Track design in the early days of racing were very simple for the most part. A lot of tracks came from abandoned military air fields (Silverstone and Sebring as examples). These tracks didn’t have too many corners and emphasized straights over corners.
Track design then slowly changed to have longer, more sweeping corners, with shorter straights in between. This was partly due to the fact that race cars were getting faster and faster and needed to have some sort of natural slowing that didn’t overly rely on good brakes. Something like Mosport, Sonoma or Suzuka are excellent examples of this change in philosophy. This provided better wheel to wheel racing and started cornering development to accelerate.
Enter the 70’s and 80’s where aerodynamics really played a huge role in not only the design of new tracks, but to the existing tracks that had to change to make racing safer. For instance look at Monza and Imola, where multiple chicanes had to be added to forcefully slow the F1 cars down as to avoid more severe crashes at the end of the longer straights.
Enter the Tilke era of the mid to late 90’s to present. No more flowing corners dominating the circuit design, and more abrupt, sharper corners. Hate his designs all you want, but his designs serve a purpose and that is to keep F1 cars from flying off the track and killing a driver. What this has produced though, is a lack of decent flow, a lot of starts and stops. Ultimately resulting in hardly any passing zones for the faster cars.
You want a good mix of fast, medium and slow corners, 1 long straight, 1 or 2 medium long straights, and finally at least 1 hard braking zone. In my opinion, you should always have the straight that yields the highest entry speed followed by the hardest braking zone. This should not be confused with the slowest corner. If that was the case, it would be too much; you don’t want brakes to melt in one corner.
With that, here is my concept track design. Let me introduce, SMB Motorsports Park!
SMB is a roughly 3.25km long, 15 corner circuit, run in a counter-clockwise lap.
First thing that you might notice is 700m long front straight. This is neither too long or too short, something along the length of Sebring’s start/finish line. This goes into a fast left-hander, that also bares similarity to Sebring’s T1 or Suzuka’s 130R. Basically, there should be a very small braking zone for higher tier cars.
This then leads into another 400m long straight into the first real braking zone, a right-left chicane. The second part of the chicane is tighter than the first, leading for a bit of trail braking that could yield to be a difficult corner to master.
Turn 3 would be slightly uphill and flat out, leading into the T4-5 complex. Both corners would need a dab of the brakes to make it through all right and would be considerably downhill. This would prove fun to watch as the cars that are set up for handling should be able to catch the cars ahead going into the slowest corner of the track, T6.
T6 looks funny in my rendering because I’m trying to convey an idea for how this corner would be really entertaining. Drawing a bit of inspiration from COTA’s T11 and T15/16 complexes, this would be the ideal corner to sneak a pass in. The track slightly bends during the braking zone, so you would have to go over to driver’s left to take the fastest line. However, if a car behind had a decent run, they could dive up the inside and make a move.
Turn 7 is a triple apex left-hander (I know, real original, right?). What makes this one different is that it could almost be 3 separate corners. 7A would need a bit of braking (since the corner before is a tight hairpin), setting yourself up to crest over the flat-out 7B. Going back downhill from 7B is 7C, where you would again have to hit the brakes and carefully control your turning and braking to not spin out.
Immediately following 7C is the off-camber turn 8, where you do yourself a huge favour if you set yourself up right coming out of 7C. This is because there is another medium length straight towards the turn 9 complex.
Turn 9 is my favourite corner, which I call “The Zipper”. My idea for this corner draws a bit of inspiration from Surfers Paradise’s switchback chicane complex. 9A and B are tighter than C and D. Overall, this is longer in length than Surfers Paradise, but arguably harder on car setup. With the quick attack of corners, but requiring more turning, if you don’t have the car set up just right, you could be backwards or in the tire barriers really quickly.
Following The Zipper is the Turn 10-11 complex; an uphill set of right-hand kinks, with turn 11 being a bit of a blind corner on exit. You don’t want to end up too far to driver’s left on exit of T11, as the medium speed left hand Turn 12 lays at the end of a very small straight at the top of the hill. T12 would be the highest elevation on the circuit.
T13 is could be the most important corner for passing, as the run down to turn 14 is fairly steep downhill as you gather quite a bit of speed heading into turn 14. Turn 14 would be a medium intensity braking zone, a great opportunity for a late lap pass. The exit of T14 would be the lowest point of elevation on the circuit.
Turn 15 would be a BES/WEC Nuerburgring chicane style corner, where the start/finish straight looms large at the end of the lap. This would be really critical to get right and not go wide on exit, as you would lose a lot of speed at the far end by turn 1 to start the next lap.
Admittedly, this circuit probably wouldn’t suit F1 because the cars would likely be too quick for corners like T1 and 11-12. HOWEVER, this is a concept, and if you made the track with crazy amounts of run-off, anything is possible! This would be a perfect track for GT and touring car racing, while multi-class and prototype racing would be pretty fun around here as well.
Well I hope you enjoyed reading this edition of SRC! Let me know what you thought in the comments and if you liked it, please hit those like/subscribe/share buttons!
Just a quick update on me personally. I’ve sent my helmet in the post to get painted! I should have it back in a month and I’ll have plenty of pictures to show when that happens!
I also completed the first points paying race of my karting season. I won the pre-season exhibition in my weight class, so I was expecting to be near the top in my group the first week. I qualified 2nd in a kart that needed better brakes, but that’s neither here nor there, being arrive and drive. In the race, I didn’t get the start I am accustomed to, but it didn’t really matter, as the pole winner was faster than me during the race. I had his kart in practice and it was clearly faster than the kart I pulled (you pick out of a hat) for the race. However, I stayed comfortably in 2nd the whole race and finished there. Not bad for the first points race of the year! This time last year I finished way down in 7th or 8th, so I really have improved a lot year over year.
That’s it for me, I hope you enjoyed this post! Next up will be the weekend recap from Indy and Monaco, so here’s hoping it’s a good weekend!