On September 5, 2021, Formula 1 returns to the Netherlands after 36 years. It will run on historic route of Zandvoort, entirely renewed compared to the original circuit in view of the return to the calendar of the top world motorsport series. The redesign and modernization of the circuit has been entrusted to the company Dromo, of which the Reggiano Jarno Zaffelli he is founder and CEO. And thanks to the collaboration of Dromo, with FormulaPassion we had the opportunity, worldwide exclusive, to view and analyze in detail the data of the track, the same used by the Formula 1 Teams for their simulations.
The first analyzes were enough to realize that the preliminary numerical results were already astounding. The Zandvoort weekend looks like an absolute novelty for Formula 1, on a circuit ready to reserve an important amount of surprises for pilots and fans.
Before going into the specific details of the various sections of the track, it is important to understand the basics that inspired the design line. The first aspect that emerges macroscopically from the analysis of the track is that the new Zandvoort was designed with the aim of being a great challenge first of all for the pilots. The basic idea is that the spectacle for the public should not be artfully sought with easy overtaking points under specially set up stands, but in the pure driving difficulty, with the pilots called to find a limit that is very difficult to understand and, from time to time, to manage. With the design of Zandvoort we tried, therefore, to recover a spirit of other times, however, conjugating it with avant-garde concepts. The sensation moving through the curves of the track is ancient, of risk and difficulty, and at the same modern, with innovative solutions sought for each curve. All of this, of course, without ever leaving aside the safety, which however in this case unspoken the design lines but simply models them, in order to obtain the minimum of risks without having to affect the soul of the track.
The first of the techniques used is the use of third dimension as an active part of the design process. Looking only at the two-dimensional map of the Zandvoort track, in fact, provides an extremely limited view of the reality of the track, which shows off right in the vertical dimension its strongest points. “Unlike others, we think in 3 dimensions”Says Zaffelli, and the profiles of the Dutch track show it unequivocally. According to our calculations on the track data, in fact, on 14 curves of runway 2 only of them can be considered “flat”, while all the others are characterized by the so-called “banking“Or from the inclination of the roadway towards the inside of the curve itself, with values ranging from a minimum of 3 degrees up to a maximum of 19 in the outer part of turn 3 (and of 18 in the last, very long, turn 14).
However, simply raising the roadway is not enough to obtain a result that guarantees entertainment, driving commitment and safety. A huge part of Research has been focused on like modeling these inclinations to obtain these kinds of characteristics. The solutions we find on the track are different. From the combination of the differences in height, which guarantee always appropriate (but challenging) entrances and exits of curves, to the use of a variable cant angle within the same curve section. This happens for example in the Hugenholtz complex, one of the most difficult points on the track, where a curve 3, the inner part of the curve has an inclination of about 4.5 degrees, while the outer part of almost 19, with a cross section modeled according to the Fibonacci series.
Also as a driving sensation the 3-turn approach is a unicum: the outer edge of the carriageway is over 4 meters higher than the inside one, despite the curve having just 17 meters of radius, and approaching the pilots will have the impression that it is almost the curve itself, which from the bottom of the cockpit appears as a big wave, to go to meet them trying to intimidate them.
On top of all this, all the transitions have been treated in detail with the elevation of the track that follows in a natural way the route also in the sections ad very high speed. As in the extension of curves 4, 5 and 6, very fast and to go full, with the track that follows the curvature of the track through the lateral inclination, allowing the riders to remain at full throttle until the braking point of turn 7. In fact, at the exit of turn 3 the riders will have to climb a difference in height of about 8 meters uphill, and then dive into the 4, 5 and a half degrees tilt to the right, go down by 7 and a half meters downhill facing turn 5 with his team 4 and a half degrees tilt to the left and then again others 8 meters of ascent in turn 6, 3.2 degrees of cantand, finally, to arrive at the braking of curve 7, difficult, with a humpback in the middle, then downhill and with 5.6 degrees of inclination of the road surface. A real “roller coaster” effect.
In the second half of the lap, between turn 8 and turn 11 we find a stretch a almost nothing cant, with all readings below 3 degrees. Zaffelli himself has us confirmed that this part influenced all the choices of the new part of the track. A car with a mechanical set-up set up for banked curves, in fact, will be a lot more complicated to manage in a flat section, increasing the driving difficulty coefficient both in the semi-straight of 517 meters leading to 11, and in the violent braking for the entry into the chicane of turns 11 and 12 and forcing the teams to choose the set-up of compromise, especially on the suspension package to try to get the most out of every stretch of track.
At the end of the tour then we find the very long curve 14, elevated by 18 degrees, to be covered in full to throw yourself on the straight of the pits. The structure of the last curve of the track, with a wide radius and high banking, is in fact a extension of the main straight. According to our calculations, the possibility of following it in full will anticipate by about 340 meters the point where the riders will be able to press the gas pedal to the maximum, transforming the main straight of 678 meters into a potentially about 1 kilometer.
This will allow us to have the famous “Tarzan”, A clear overtaking point, without forgetting that there might even be you get to the photo finish under the checkered flag in case of two cars very close to the last lap.
Regarding the overtaking points, Zaffelli confessed to us that he has one wager (from 1 pound) opened with Formula 1. The Dromo leader, in fact, is firmly convinced that it will be possible to overcome not only at the braking point of the Tarzan corner, but also at perhaps the most difficult point of the track, the aforementioned one. curve 3 In the Hugenholtz complex. Without hiding how much this stretch of track is to his liking, the Italian designer explained to us that he expects that in the two curves of the high-elevation track (precisely 3 and 14) the lateral accelerations that the cars will suffer will be considerably reduced, replaced by those vertical, precisely because of the elevation of the road surface, as we analyzed ourselves last year in a dedicated video article.
This will ensure that even the famous “marble”Of rubber, which will be deposited on the track in those curves will be minimum, leaving not only the ideal trajectory clean, but much of the roadway. This will open the doors to bold actions also out of trajectory, and looking at the progressive inclination of turn 3, it is clear that, with so much courage, a driver could try to pass on the outside counting on the greater speed that that stretch of track allows.
And the vertical loads will represent one extra stress very relevant to tires. In high speed and high cant corners, the outer tires will have to withstand vertical loads greater than the season, but Pirelli she has always said to herself calm and not to foresee problems. Again, however, it is directly the Italian designer to underline a peculiar aspect. “The pilots will have to be very careful inside the front right during the race. In the last corner, the compression stresses the suspension geometry by leaning on the left tire for the trajectory, while the right tends to open inwards, stressing the side“. Another difficulty that will therefore be a challenge in the challenge.
In all this the safety it has certainly not been forgotten, but also in this field Dromo has continued to think “in 3 dimensions”. Looking at the computerized model of the track, one cannot fail to notice some special escape routes, those of curve 7 and curve 13, both similar more to than mountains than to escape routes as we are normally used to seeing. I almost 7 meters in altitude present in both escape routes allow you to have a high degree of deceleration of the cars, while maintaining the same spaces, and, therefore, of ensure safety even in the case of off-track at high speed, without having to expand the overall size of the track.
Given the Dutch climate statistics, we also wondered if in case of rain the route provides special precautions. We thus discovered that the asphalt mixture has been created for all banked curves and high-speed sections specifically for this project, like all those of Dromo. Nicknamed “Flying Dutch”, the Flying Dutchman, in honor of both the Legend and that of Max Verstappen, home driver, the compound is a special mix of Norwegian stones with a specific texture for this type of curves, which simultaneously guarantees the maximum adherence and stability of the mixture in conditions of great inclinations. This joins a complex drainage system at key points on the track and a package of pumps in charge of keeping dry, for example, turn 12 (the lowest point of the circuit). In all the tests and in all the preparatory races of these months were not found neither streams of water in crossing, nor puddles along the track, proving that Zandvoort is ready even to face a possible weekend with inclement weather without fear.
In conclusion, beyond the numerical analysis carried out, what emerged strongly from our analysis is the package of sensations that this track promises to convey to the drivers, and through them to the public, in a combination of ancient flavor and modernity. No detail has been left to chance, for a return that will be a real one first ever for Formula 1.
FP | Federico Albano
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