Formula 1 returns to Zandvoort and re-embraces its origins, personified by asphalt ribbon of 4259 meters that runs in all three dimensions, supporting the morphology of the territory which, by introducing numerous differences in height and gradient changes, enhances the sensitivity behind the wheel and offers unique driving sensations. The return of the Dutch Grand Prix is also a source of Italian pride. The plant was in fact recently modernized by the Italian company Dromo by Jarno Zaffelli with the introduction of the iconic banked curves, inserted with the intention of combining the characteristics of an old-style track with the needs of modern Formula 1 single-seaters.
Zandvoort presents itself as an uninterrupted succession of curves interspersed with short stretches, which subject the riders to driving intensity comparable to that experienced in Montecarlo, enhanced by the absence of asphalt escape routes in favor of grass and gravel. The long series of folds at the Dutch circuit will also push the teams to adopt medium-high downforce set-ups, while the short length of the straights makes the track somewhat difficult for overtaking, with the hope, however, that the smaller amount will benefit. the quality of the maneuvers.
The difficulties of recovering positions on the track could invite the technicians to outline structures aimed at giving greater priority to qualification, with less attention paid to top speeds to defend themselves in the race from pursuers. However, preparation for the race weekend cannot neglect long-distance tire management, since pit stops and undercuts will still be important opportunities to gain positions, considering how much the tires are stressed on the Dutch track. In fact, the arrangement of the various curves in rapid succession is added to the high vertical loads exerted on the roofs during the travel of the individual elevated curves, thus leaving short time intervals in which the tires can be cooled, with the risk of rapid overheating.
While on the one hand Zandvoort presents a preponderance of guided sections compared to straights, on the other it offers a wide variety in the geometry of its curves. In fact, of the 14 folds of the track, 4 are at low speed (curves 9, 10, 11 and 12), in which the mechanical grip guaranteed by the suspension unit, the modulation of the hybrid power and the traction at the exit to recover speed quickly count. Ferrari will be able to try to leverage in this section to recover from the difficult last appointments, as these are aspects in which the SF21 has proven to be particularly effective. The hairpin bends, however, are equally balanced by the high-speed corners and overpasses, introduced with the intention of increasing overtaking opportunities.
Banking, i.e. the slope of the curve in the direction transverse to the direction of travel, subjects the tires to enormous vertical loads, since to the downward thrust exerted by the aerodynamic load is added a component of the centrifugal force that crushes the car towards the ground. In Zandvoort in particular, each curve of the track has a certain banking angle, as highlighted in the graphics created thanks to the data provided by Federico Albano. The philosophy behind the project carried out by Dromo was in fact to accentuate the slope especially in curves 1 (Tarzan) and 3, which has a variable banking that goes from 4.52 ° inside to 18.8 ° of the external trajectory. Thanks to the steep slopes of the roadway, the drivers will have the opportunity to design and interpret different trajectories, thus introducing overtaking opportunities even outside the straights.
Instead, the final curve of the track was different, the banking of which was intended to allow it to be traveled in full, effectively lengthening the starting straight and extending the exploitation of the wake effect, with the hope of creating overtaking opportunities at the braking point of the track. Tarzan. The curve is characterized by a slope of 18 °, almost double compared to the 9.2 ° of Indianapolis, but the different construction of Pirelli tires compared to Michelin products of the early 2000s should prevent the repetition of the scenario of the infamous 2005 United States Grand Prix. With such a banking angle we obtain that about 30% of the weight strength of the the car helps to push the car inwards, while 30% of the centrifugal force is added to the aerodynamic load in crushing the car against the ground.
In the Netherlands tires will therefore be subjected to vertical loads higher than normal. Furthermore, according to the simulations conducted by Dromo, in the travel of the last elevated bend the downward thrust, the inclination of the roadway and the kinematics of the suspension are such as to bring the inner tires (right) to rest on the side, with the possible rise of anomalous wear phenomena. The preponderance of right-hand curves, however, as many as 10 out of 14 overall, outlines the tires on the left side as those most stressed, being the external ones and therefore in support. The most demanding curves of the track are also folds 7 and 14, in which the cars experience lateral accelerations higher than 5 and 4 g respectively, and being also directed to the right, they exacerbate the workload on the tires on the left side.
In anticipation of the enormous vertical loads expected on the Dutch runway, Pirelli has therefore opted for the hardest compounds in the range available, the C1, C2 and C3, used for the last time at Silverstone. The minimum inflation pressures recommended by the Italian manufacturer are relatively high, equal to 22.0 and 21.5 psi respectively for the front and rear. The camber i parameters are also relatively accentuated end of straight (at the end of the straight), recommended to -3.00 ° at the front and -2.00 ° at the rear.
The high vertical forces unleashed on banking do not only affect the hedges, but also the suspensive group. It is in fact necessary to stiffen the adjustments of the spring-shock absorber groups of the suspensions, in order to avoid excessive crushing and therefore contact of the bottom against the ground, while at the same time paying attention not to compromise the set-up in the rest of the lap. The search for mechanical-aerodynamic balance is also complicated by the variety and alternation of high and low speed corners, in which the cars exhibit variable dynamic and aerodynamic behaviors.
Engine and brakes
Thanks to the preponderance of the guided strokes compared to the stretches, the power of the power units will have a lower weight than usual in defining the power relations. The management of the electricity available for the hybrid part will also be easier, suggesting a reduced recourse to clipping, i.e. cutting the electric power at the end of the straight. Even more than the maximum power in Zandvoort it will be crucial the delivery of the same at low speeds, to optimize traction and at the same time safeguard the rear tires.
In terms of severity for the braking system, the technicians Brembo they classified the track with a rating of 3 out of 5. The drivers use the brakes in 9 of the 14 curves of the track, for a use equal to 17% of the total time, but the speed variations and braking distances are somewhat reduced , with a cumulative load on the brake pedal in the race of “just” 43.3 tons. The data underlines the smooth nature of Zandvoort and at the same time a medium-low average lap speed, with cars rarely accelerating enough to reach high mileage. Although the maximum speed is reached on approach to turn 1, the simulations conducted by Brembo reveal that the most demanding braking is the one preceding turn 11, at the end of the first zone of activation of the DRS. In detail, the single-seaters decelerate from over 300 to around 100 km / h, experiencing a maximum deceleration of 4.8 g.
The weekend of the Dutch Grand Prix is therefore announced full of possible variables. The interpretation of the elevated curves in terms of driving style and set-up is accompanied by the novelty linked to the debut of modern single-seaters on the Dutch track. In fact, the teams do not have previous information, which is why it will be essential to run continuously on Friday to collect as much data as possible. It is therefore difficult to make any predictions, especially considering the great balance appreciated so far in the world championship match between Mercedes and Red Bull. The hope is that Lewis Hamilton and Max Verstappen will be able to compete again over the long distance, since a confrontation in the race free from accidents or technical problems has been missing since June.
FP | Carlo Platella
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