After the first few meters on the brand new Miami International Autodrome, several drivers complained about the lack of grip on the new track. There are no problems on the ideal line, but they do appear as soon as the drivers slip a little. For example, in the second practice, Sergio Perez spun while passing someone, while Sebastian Vettel did the same when being passed by others. Additionally, in the three training sessions, there were three falls that resulted in a code red. According to the drivers, this is due to the lack of grip next to the ideal line, which probably also offers less grip in the race after last night’s rain.
Ferrari driver Carlos Sainz compares the situation outside the ideal line with the driving experience on a wet track. He hopes the FIA will listen to the drivers and give the Turn 1 apron a thorough clean to avoid a crash at the start. “In the beginning it can be very difficult with the inside and outside lines in Turn 1,” said the Spaniard. “We have asked the FIA to make sure the track is as clean as possible before the start because we could start to see errors that are not the drivers’ fault. It’s like riding on a dry line, but off the line it feels like riding on a wet track. So we need some help from race control in this area.”
Carlos Sainz expects drivers to exercise caution when overtaking in Miami.
Photo: Jerry André / Motorsport images
Motorsport.com was informed that the FIA understands the drivers’ desire to clean Turn 1, but this has not been complied with. However, as with the other sessions, the track will be swept clean before the race. In the race, too, there seems to be little grip off the ideal line and Sainz believes overtaking is possible on the long straights, but doesn’t expect any risky manoeuvres. “All the drivers complained about the lack of grip off the line. So if you want to place an overtaking manoeuvre, you should actually do it before the braking zone. If that doesn’t work, I can’t imagine starting the actions very late or from very far away because there is so little grip.”
The situation when leaving the pits can therefore lead to interesting situations, because the drivers then have to drive over a line with little grip with cold tyres. They may have to duel with drivers who didn’t go through the pits at the same time. Dave Robson, Head of Vehicle Performancee at Williams, says the drivers have to accept the lack of grip, but are curious about the situation at the pit exit. “With cars that come out of the pits, it becomes difficult when you are up against another car. The whole part of the track will be interesting duels.”