You may have heard a rumour that Formula 1 is thinking about racing on an oval again. That wouldn’t be quite right, but it’s not too far away. F1 boss Ross Brawn has spoken this week about staging a second race in Bahrain on the track’s outer layout – which he called “almost an oval” – and circuit bosses have responded favourably. But what is this oval layout?
Video: Could F1 race on an ‘oval’ Bahrain circuit?
Well, thankfully our friends over at Autosport can help us explain with this handy video. The Bahrain international circuit was built with several different layout options. Formula 1 has run with two of them, mostly the usual Grand Prix layout, which has been relatively successful, and once with its longer ‘Endurance’ layout in 2010 – which was not.
But there are other potential layouts, the one we’re focussing on today uses the start/finish straight of the main track and heads through the signature Tilke double chicane at T1-3 as normal. But when the cars get to the braking zone for turn 4, usually at the end of a DRS zone, they will find a slightly more open corner, which feeds off onto the longer endurance layout. This is followed by fast left/right kink, before a slower chicane and then it’s a flat out blast to the final corner at turn 14 (because you’re not catching us calling the small kink after it a ‘turn’). And that’s the full lap.
The layout would be one of the shortest on the calendar, but would be completely different to anything else that F1 uses for racing. We think it could be a great test of the drivers and teams. With the number of long straights massively outweighing the corners, teams would have to run pretty low downforce setups – allowing for potentially closer racing. Then there would now be four big stops per lap (turns 1, 4, the new chicane and the current turn 14) for overtaking opportunities, with the final stop of the lap now become a much more significant braking zone thanks to a much longer approach.
Who knows, if it proves a success maybe F1 will be more open to relaxing its strict rules on track length and layout, the kind of rules that have seen circuits like Silverstone, Donington Park and Brands Hatch look to change radically to accommodate a potential Grand Prix. Maybe we could see racing return to some classic circuits. But what do you think of the new layout? Will it be a smash hit and help create more racing? Or does the lack of more technical, twisting challenge leave you cold?
Images courtesy of Motorsport Images.
Would you watch a fast, Bahrain oval race? Or would you rather keep it tight and twisty?
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