Viewing entries tagged
Herman Tilke

Abu Dhabi Grand Prix: Every Man's an Island...

Somebody famous once coined an expression about ‘money making the world go around’, which could so readily be linked to ‘oiling the wheels of an industry’ and, let’s face it, Formula One is a financially-orientated industry that makes millionaires out of its victors, as it travels the globe and (hopefully) aids prosperity, by promoting inward investment, tourism, sporting prowess and entrepreneurial spirit. However, Abu Dhabi is in the heartland of the oil business and, without it, Grand Prix would be a whole lot less slick.

Indian GP Preview: But It’s Just Not Cricket...


Fast developing countries need exciting and motivational events to raise their profiles and change outside perceptions. By tradition, India has always been a nation of tremendous contrast. Extreme wealth, once the preserve of the Maharajahs but now belonging to both commercial and industrial barons, stands starkly against a backdrop of abysmal poverty and it is this inherent imbalance that has created something of a moral dilemma. Yet, F1 is in India and it is heralded as a vital element of its modern infrastructure.

From "Guten Tag" To GO

KUT, one of the top public radio stations in the country and Austin's local affiliate of National Public Radio (NPR), has released a neat video of Circuit of The Americas like you have never seen (or heard) before.

They interviewed Alessandro Tassisto, Architect, and Oliver Liedgens, Civil Engineer, two essential Tilke GmbH & Co. team members that have been working on the Texas circuit for years. The video is captivating because we get to view it through the eyes of the men who have arguably developed the deepest understanding of the complex project. They have had to analyze everything from soil constraints to climate, interpret racing corners and driving sequences, and they narrate the video in their native German tongue (subtitles provided).

At about one minute into the video, Oliver takes to Turn 1:

We are standing at the starting line where, on November 18, 24 racecars will take their positions.

That will be a real challenge given the 15 percent incline here.

It's like you are shooting into the sky, because you don't know what's happening behind turn one.

The viewer gets the sense that they are behind the wheel as Oliver maneuvers a contruction off-road vehicle around the nearly complete circuit. The fresh layers of pavement have been laid, the gantry is in place and the FIA safety fence looks to be complete.

A great behind the scenes preview that we hope will have Michael Schumacher, Sebastien Vettel, Nico Rosberg, Timo Glock, Nico Hulkenberg and others exclaiming: "Ausgezeichnet!"


NUERBURG, GERMANY - JULY 23: Mark Webber of Australia and Red Bull Racing drives during practice to the German Formula One Grand Prix at the Nurburgring on July 23, 2011 in Nuerburg, Germany. (Photo by Vladimir Rys Photography via Getty Images)

// Dividends of Downforce

Located in the Rhine Valley, near Karlsruhe, the 2012 German Grand Prix at Hockenheim is this season’s alternative to the equally infamous ‘Green Hell’ of the Nürburgring but, prior to its 2002 modernisation programme, it claimed the lives of two of Formula One’s most famous sons.

The Water Factor

Every now and then, fans expect the rain to interfere with the outcome of the race and create an exciting spectacle at the same time. While we all quietly wish for another repeat of the 1988 Japanese GP each time there is potential for rain at a grand prix, the truth is water is an enormously difficult and dangerous factor to consider for teams and their drivers.

With many close calls on Friday and Saturday during practice and qualifying, the evidence of failed water management at Silverstone is extensive and easy to spot.  On the screen, puddles and sheets of water are clearly visible as drivers travel through each obstacle with a distinct wake from their tire treads. 

After closer analysis, there seems to be a pattern of behavior throughout the circuit.  As I mentioned before, Will Buxton's rant about Silverstone's remodel and the new flooding prone pit lane is evidence that concerns are significant enough to stir up a nationally televised discussion about the situation.

If Silverstone is looking to tackle this problem in order to prevent accidents, race delays, and ensure the comfort and safety of everyone in attendance, then a serious implementation of water management is necessary. Though much of the circuit's remodel was focused on extending the track and the aforementioned new paddock building, it's really no excuse that puddles are forming on such a high-class facility.

With hindsight, it's always easy to give Silverstone a hard time for these issues, so instead we focus on what steps can be done to address them.  To do so means looking no further than our facility here in Austin, and how Circuit of The Americas is working to make sure fans, drivers and teams are well insulated from overflows of water. 

In our recent trip to the Austin circuit for interviews with Australian V8 Supercar driver Mark "Frosty" Winterbottom, I also spoke with the head of the project from Tilke, Frank Both.  In our discussions, I learned more about the plans the Tilke engineering team has set in motion to address the water retition at COTA.

We first discussed the overall progress of COTA and took a look at the surrounding situation at Turn 11.  At our feet was the initial layers of asphalt on the track with two white paint lines at a slight change in elevation.  Frank explained after the initial layers of asphalt are set down, the surface is cut and forms are laid for the curbs along with drainage pipes. 

Lining the circuit and staged ready for placement behind the curbs, a modular drainage system waits to be set into place.  I asked Frank about this system and he explained the drainage system lined the whole circuit to ensure proper collection of water at any point along the track.  Thus, the necessary infrastructure to prevent puddles and streaks of water across the circuit is not localized, but instead a continuous network around the whole circuit. Should rain become a factor at this year's USGP, fans can be assured that the necessary infrastructure is in place to make sure all the action stays on track and doesn't spill off (as much as one can ensure, anyway!).

After this weekend's British GP, there's plenty of evidence that careful consideration for water retention should not be taken lightly. Failing to do so may end up costing a driver some points or even put him in the wall.  After speaking with Frank Both and learning more about Tilke's plans for COTA, I've gained another level of respect for their expertise in circuit construction. We can rest assured the dangers of excessive water on the track will be absent, thanks to the foresight of Tilke and the contractors constructing COTA. 

A Tour of COTA with Tilke Engineering


// Background

Recently, we had the pleasure of being welcomed out for a private tour of Circuit of The Americas by the designers of the track, Tilke Engineering. Since the Topping Out ceremony just a few weeks ago, the buzz around Austin and the motorsports industry is that Austin is shaping up to be a great venue. In just one short year, the project has completely transformed from a quiet piece of land into a busy, complex, and well-oiled machine.  Hundreds of workers help the project move along at impressive speed, achieving milestones weekly and transforming the landscape into a world-class facility.

The most current milestone for the project is the first stages of the asphalt which are currently being poured.  Running ahead of schedule according to the sub-contractor in charge of this portion, they have begun laying down the initial sealant to the track, the first layer of the asphalt composition which sits on top of the gravel.  Approximately 20-25% of the track has this sealant in place and the crews are moving along to complete this in the coming weeks. The track itself will receive three layers of asphalt before it's completed, with each layer being blended, cured and leveled to intense specification.  This process will commence over the next few months as the team plans to have the track complete in August.

// The Tour

For the tour, we discussed the overall plan and and design of the track atop turn one, looking across the whole project and observing the grandiose turn one.  Next, we rode around the track for the first time, seeing each turn and getting a complete view of the entire project. As Kerri said it in this article, and I'll say again, the magnitude of this project is immense and truly stunning. Standing from a top turn one gives an unparalleled perspective of COTA, however, nothing beats driving along the same path that will host the world's best motorsports series and their drivers.

Our tour continued from turn one around the entire track where we stopped to take some photos and talk about the specifics of the area. I was particularly excited about going out to turn 11 and traveling down the back straight to turn 12.  At just over 1 Kilometer, approximately 5/8th's of a mile, the back straight is long and has a nice slight right slant to it in addition to some mild elevation change. Cars entering turn 12 will be passing each other at 200mph, making the area around turn 12 an entertaining place to watch the race. 

We observed the crews working on turn 15 before we moved back to the paddock building to walk around a bit and see what's changed.  Already the exterior stucco and stone cladding is being applied on the media center and the west end of the paddock building.  Just behind the paddock, foundations for the team buildings are being poured as well, none of which were even started even just a few weeks since the Topping Out ceremony.  Overall, the activity around the paddock and main grandstand is contagious, and already I could hear the sounds of cars coming off of turn 20, heading down the main straight.

In a little over six months our Inaugural Formula 1 race will commence at Circuit of The Americas, making the reality of the project even more exciting.  We'd like to give an special thank you to our tour guides from Tilke Engineering for inviting us out for an exclusive tour of Circuit of The Americas.  They provided immense knowledge of the project, sharing with us the difficulties needed to overcome the soil conditions on the site and the techniques and expertise they've brought to the table after working on several recent Formula 1 facilities.  As a student of Architecture, this was a real treat for me, learning more about the technical specifications and strategies used to construct this track.  I'm thoroughly impressed with the Tilke team and their commitment to the project from day one, we definitely have the right guys on the job here in Austin.

 // Lots More Photos In The Gallery