Formula 1

US GP venue Austin to close over winter to fix bumps after F1 complaints

The Circuit of the Americas will close this winter for major work to address the bumps that Formula 1 drivers have complained about over the US Grand Prix weekend.

There was a mixed reaction to the bumps, with Daniel Ricciardo saying the track was better for its undulations instead of being like a video game. But most drivers criticised the bumps and said they could even lead to injuries.

Some surface grinding was undertaken at the track on Friday night, and more was planned for Saturday evening.

However, the major work is to begin next month, with extensive excavations to remove pipes under the track.

“The guys worked all last night and tonight they’re doing it again in the pit out area,” COTA boss Bobby Epstein told Autosport.

“There’s a massive grinder coming. It’s not easy on our guys, because our staff work pretty hard for the weekend, and they already have a lot of hours.

“Otherwise it wouldn’t be a big burden.

“We’re actually closing the track for most of December and half of January to fix the problems.

“We did some of the repairs last year before MotoGP, so I wouldn’t say we’d have to do the whole thing.

“Certainly it will involve the entire back straight, the pit out and part of Turn 1, there’s a part of a hump before Turn 9, Turns 18-19. So it’s pretty extensive.

“I know what the bill is!”

The undulations also caused problems for MotoGP riders when they visited the Texas venue in April.

Epstein explained that the problems can be traced to a flood when the track was being laid in 2015, which consequently led to a number of issues.

“We excavated nine feet deep to [build] the track here, and brought in special soils,” Epstein added.

“However clearly the flood of 2015 caused some very serious heaving, and we haven’t fixed those areas since then, and it’s just gotten worse.

“There’s been some washout around pipes.

“There are pipes under the track, and in 2015 the water followed those pipes, not just inside but around them.

“It caused erosion that left this void, and then you get some heaving and shrinking.

“We know it’s a problem and it’s scheduled for a big repair.

“Those pipes are coming out.

“But we didn’t think it was going to affect the F1 cars like this.”

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