SportF1Why Miami's key curves are "at the limits of...

Why Miami's key curves are "at the limits of design"

UK specialists Apex Circuit Design have designed the 5.41-kilometre counter-clockwise circuit that will host the inaugural Formula 1 Miami Grand Prix next weekend, around Hard Rock Stadium in Miami . Gardens .

Its twistiest section is Turns 13-16, which wind around the on-ramps and off-ramps and under the elevated sections of the Florida Turnpike, the main toll road between Miami and Orlando, and NW 203rd Street.

The Miami circuit is expected to leave an average lap speed of just under 218kph, and that low-speed section precedes a 1.28km straight that will hit 320kph and leads to the tight turn 17.

The approach to Turn 17 should be a clear overtaking point on the track and Turns 13-16 should allow the cars to bunch up and have an interesting battle on that back straight.

FIA rules regarding clearance between structures above the track force the design to submerge under the two flyovers, shortly after rising 11 feet to cross the southbound on-ramp, creating a ridge at the Turns 14-15 chicane that would severely punish any driving errors.

Creation of turn 15 of the Miami circuit

“This whole sequence was a real engineering challenge,” admits Andrew Wallis , lead design engineer for the Apex project. “Clive Bowen’s [Apex founder and director] concept design called for us to route the track through that area and in order to go under the first flyover, we had to comply with FIA rules that require at least four meters of clearance, but since we had to join it to the levels of the Turnpike access road which has a 7% transverse drop, the surface of our circuit had to rise just at the point where we needed it to drop.

“There’s also an F1 rule about 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 be in line with the curve of the crossing, and then they go back under the overpass.

“We’ve created that fairly sharp cornering sequence where you have a tight chicane, which has a minimum design speed of 80km/h to comply with the speed change rule. It’s also completely blind to the drivers because of the change of elevation. We ran simulations with over 10 design iterations at that point to achieve the 2D and 3D geometry required to thread the needle.”

“We had to deal with design limitations there. And at that point, we had to put the fence behind the barrier because there’s no room to raise it over the barrier.”

That whole section of track follows a tight left-hander at Turn 11 which exits into a flowing right-hander at Turn 12, which is off camber, and should present a challenge in itself as the cars will arrive very busy there.

“I think the sequence from Turns 11 to 16 contains some great corners and I hope the drivers will find it difficult with the new cars,” added Wallis. “They will have to prepare as they go through the previous right-hand corner, so not only can you not see the apex, but you will have a lateral load on the car under braking, as they detect the apex late to do the corner. In qualifying, I think it will be a really decisive corner for the lap time.”

“That’s arguably the most technically challenging part of the track. It then leads to the longest straight so any mistakes could accumulate by the time the drivers get to Turn 17 and should allow for overtaking opportunities and at least group cars on the straight”.

The Turnpike is less than 25 meters from the track at that point, and that area will be inaccessible to the public, with only marshals allowed.

Apex project manager Sam Worthy added, “With the turnpike so close, to protect cars and marshals, we’ll put up barriers and screens along the boundary so that cars going through the turnpike don’t get distracted by what’s going on on the circuit. We were very concerned about that, we had to make sure it was a safe race for everyone.”

“As there is no room to have grandstands or spectators there, F1 has wanted to fill that area with cameras to ensure multiple TV viewing angles, as we know we will see a lot of interesting action there.”

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