I believe it was during Saturday’s Free Practice Live Blog that the debate turned to a lack of proper high speed tracks. As Keith from F1Fanatic mentioned, basically Monza is the only traditional high speed track left on the calendar. Some guys said that with the 305 km limit on the race distance the races on high speed tracks would be rather short (meaning higher speeds and same distance). Well exemptions are possible. We have slow track in Monaco where the race distance is only 260 km, we could as well have a high speed race over longer distance …
This short debate finally brought me to the post I had in mind for a while. Back in May, after the Indy 500 race, I started a thread at the F1Wolf Club forum on the possibility of having a Formula 1 race on a proper oval track. There are different opinions on the former F1 track at Indy but I always looked forward to that race. The sight of the F1 cars going around the final banked corner (see the photo above) and then charging down the long straight used to be one of the higlights of the season. (The rest of the track was boring but that is a different story). Now Indy F1 race is gone and the closest we get to banked corner is Turn 13 in Shanghai …
Me myself I am not really a fan of oval races but one of the reasons is that I do not follow the series that race on ovals that much. But I must say I would not mind seeing the Formula 1 cars once a year blasting full speed around the track. For better or worse it would definitely be a different race .
Current F1 rules are not really oval friendly. Aero that prevents cars to get closer to each other, rev limiter kicking in when the extra revs may come handy (remember Alonso vs. Hamilton at Indy last year) and the grooved tyres … The rules are however about to change. The downforce will be significantly cut down, the slicks will very likely return next year and although the revs will remain limited to 19,000 rpm the KERS may provide some extra boost.
So should Formula 1 try to have a race on oval ? It may be risky of course but would that be any bigger risk than going for a night race without ever testing it ?
The cars would still require very different set up from any other race. But even now we have extremes on calendar – the minimum downforce Monza track one hand and the high downforce Monaco on the other. Would not oval be simply just another track for the engineers ?
Here is a selection of opinions posted in the thread at F1Wolf Club. The debate somehow turned into discussion why F1 cars could not run on ovals
i really don’t get why people enjoy a race in a circle hehe. i think that to truly appreciate it you have to be there and see the speed the cars are carrying through the oval.. which in a f1 car should be veeeeeery fast! …. wonder what speed does an f1 would get on that!!
Steve Robbo touched the issue of safety cars on ovals:
It seems that F1 has the best drivers in the world, and mostly inexperienced drivers brush the walls at Indy. The safety car periods ruined what promised to be a good race yesterday (that was Indy500).
IRL is devoted to ovals and so the cars are upside down airplanes. If F1 were to get into oval racing the car would change drastically for those races and it would take a lot of time to adapt.
That said, Indy isn’t for the faint of heart. Yes some rookies ground the sides off their cars against the walls on Sunday, but there have been some superior races in the past (when it was CART) when guys like Mario Andretti, Emerson Fittipaldi, Rick Mears etc. smacked the walls too. The corners at Indy are the toughest there is at high speed. As Fittipaldi once said, entering the first turn into the short shoot, don’t blink your eyes or you’re into the wall at the next corner.
Cletus Van Horton on difference in set up for an oval race:
…So they just said “Well, if you’d just setup the car for the oval with all the luxuries F1 can afford, what type of speed would it do?”
The engineer replied that most teams would be able to beak the 250 mph barrier, but would require slicks for nothing more than safety concerns.
And our star commentator Kotenok:
It would be a pursuit to create a car which works in high speed ring but without heavy cornering and in difficult middle speed and high speed corners in usual circuits. Tremendous challenge which aren’t easy at all, because F1 cars mainly are designed to live about 1 hour and 20 min race, the races in ovals are much more longer and reach about 3 hours of race, well it’s difficult because the FIA banned these exotic materials which would in fact make it a little bit more possible to make the cars more long-lasting and safe in harder conditions.
(more in the the Oval Track thread at F1Wolf Club)