SILVERSTONE was the scene of last weekend’s dramatic Formula 1 race, but memories at the venue are much more anxious for MotoGP.
A lack of drainage, coupled with the deterioration of asphalt laid in 2018, led to the cancellation of last year’s MotoGP race at Silverstone. Fans went home empty-handed as MotoGP said there was “no option” to rearrange the race on the Monday.
At the time, MotoGP race director Mike Webb blamed the then-new surface.
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“We’ve had a number of years’ experience here in very wet conditions recently with the old surface and have been able to run races,” Webb said after last year’s debacle.
“This year, with the new surface, is the first time we’ve encountered quite so much standing water in critical places on the track. So yes it’s a direct result of the track surface.”
The circuit was completely resurfaced again last month, and the work was praised by F1 drivers following the weekend’s action.
However, Renault driver Daniel Ricciardo conceded some sections of the track – that didn’t affect F1 drivers too much – will have MotoGP riders up in arms.
The resurfacing couldn’t hide bumps into certain corners, with the standout the Turn 6 left-hander at Brooklands.
The work was carried out by West Midlands-based company Tarmac, with Italian track designers Dromo – responsible for work at other MotoGP venues – overseeing the upgrades.
Ever honest, Ricciardo conceded that riders will be “pretty angry” when they encounter the bumpy circuit on 23-25 August.
“It is still really bumpy in some areas. I don’t think the MotoGP guys will like Turn 6. They are going to kick up a fuss, [but] for us it is alright,” Ricciardo said at Silverstone.
“The rest seems pretty decent… the new surface is pretty good, it offers quite a bit of grip in some areas. Initially this morning it was quite slick and oily, but then it really rubbered in. So that will keep getting better through the weekend.”
Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton added: “The new track surface is better on the straights, especially between Turn 4 and Turn 6 where it was pretty bad before. It’s still bumpy on the exit of Turn 7 and towards Copse, but after that it’s nice and smooth through Maggotts and Becketts and down the Hanger straight.”
It was later revealed that Dromo knew about the problematic Turn 6 bump, with a fix considered prior to the F1 event. However, with such a short turnaround between the resurface work and the F1 event, the plans were tossed out.
Dromo owner Jarno Zaffelli said FIM had inspected the surface the day after the F1 race, with remediation work planned.
However, Zaffelli said he “cannot blame” Tarmac for the bump, as the Brooklands section followed work on the Wellington Straight where Tarmac were still learning the ropes with the temperature-sensitive asphalt.
“We rebuilt up [the surface] in two layers,” Zaffelli told Motorsport.com.
“The first layer was regulated and was quite easy because it was a softer compound.
“When we did the wearing course, it was very difficult and very sensitive to temperature. As hard as you want the material, you need to have more stringent temperature control, and this is exactly what we had.
“The problem is that… we decided to start from the Wellington Straight. The reason being, the Wellington Straight gave the contractor 500, 600 metres to train with this kind of material that was never used in the UK, apart from the trial test we did before.
“But it is always difficult actually going into [and doing] the works. So Brooklands was the first corner of the first day of this new material.”
MotoGP recently secured a one-year extension to keep the race at Silverstone until at least 2021. Last week, F1 secured a new deal to keep their event at the circuit until 2024.