Resurfacing work, Circuit of the Americas, Austin, Texas, United States, 2022

COTA begins major resurfacing work in fresh bid to eliminate bumps

2022 F1 Season

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The Circuit of the Americas is undergoing heavy resurfacing efforts to eliminate the track’s notorious bumps ahead of the new season.

The circuit outside Austin in Texas which hosts the United States Grand Prix confirmed new work to repave its 5.5km grand prix layout and reinforce the asphalt in key areas has begun.

It is the latest effort by the circuit to address the recurring issue of bumps, which have caused many years of complaints by the competitors of both Formula 1 and Moto GP.

In 2015, Williams drivers Valtteri Bottas and Felipe Massa both retired from the US Grand Prix due to suspension failures which the team attributed to the uneven track surface. Moto GP riders’ complaints over the track reached a tipping point last year, with eventual champion Fabio Quartararo likening COTA to a motocross track and riders threatening not to race at the venue in 2022 if their concerns were not addressed.

Circuit of the Americas track map, 2019
Circuit of the Americas track map
The Circuit of the Americas confirmed that has enlisted consultants to identify and correct the most troublesome sections of asphalt using ground penetrating radars and laser mapping software. The fast, downhill right-hander of turn two and the left hand kink over the crest at turn 10 at the far end of the circuit will also have concrete pads installed to reinforce the asphalt above them.

The stadium section from the left-hand corner of turn 12 at the end of the back straight through to the multi-apex sequence of turns 16, 17 and 18 is also being completely repaved.

During the 2021 grand prix weekend, W Series racer Abbie Eaton sustained fractured vertebrae after striking a kerb at turn 15. The track is scheduled to host this year’s United States Grand Prix on October 23rd.

Meanwhile IndyCar venue Road America in Wisconsin will have a fresh surface applied to its full six-and-a-half kilometre length following the 2022 season.

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Will Wood
Will has been a RaceFans contributor since 2012 during which time he has covered F1 test sessions, launch events and interviewed drivers. He mainly...

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  • 21 comments on “COTA begins major resurfacing work in fresh bid to eliminate bumps”

    1. It would be great to see F1 at Road America …

      1. No it wouldn’t. Theyd have to neuter the track to make it possible for these heavy, heavy aircraft carriers the f1 has turned into to to be able to crash at speeds they still achieve with ease.

        1. If Jeddah can get Grade 1 status, then I think Road America could too without any additional tarmac runoff — though it would require a hefty upgrade to the barriers and multiple layers of Tecpro in places, like Jeddah’s T22. F1 would probably have to run the existing chicane before the Kink, but that wouldn’t necessarily be a bad thing for the racing. The real obstacle is more of paddock and hospitality infrastructure. It would be fun, though, to have a throwback weekend where the teams were forced to work out of tents with an open paddock, like IndyCar does.

          I am a bit worried that the repave will include some modifications that ease the kerbs to make the track more “suitable” for Nascar, which is now the track’s cash cow. But I also think the shareholders there take a lot of pride in the track’s layout and character, so I’m hopeful. The existing runoff, with the grooves running laterally across the surface to reduce traction, are, I think, perfect for racing, and very effective at policing themselves. I really think the FIA ought to look at that as an option in more places.

          1. NASCAR is not COTA’s ‘cash cow’. COTA doesn’t even promote that race, i.e. it’s not ‘their’ race. SMI (owners of Texas Motor Speedway, owned by Bruton Smith) rents the track from COTA for that race, and SMI runs the race, promotion, etc.

            The real ‘cash cow’ for COTA is the massive annual State of Texas subsidy that has given COTA close to $300 Million so far.

            It seems like with all that money they’ve received from the taxpayers, they could afford to do proper subsurface and drainage repairs, and then resurface the entire track rather than just 40% of it. But no. ‘The minimum’ is all COTA will ever do.

            1. I have a friend who lives not too far from the track and he has told me from day one that this is the wrong place to put a track. The whole area is built on this type of clay soil which isn’t stable. So much so most people in this area don’t even have basements in their houses. This surface problem will never be able to be fixed. He told me the land before it was a race track was earmarked for low income housing and even that would’ve been stupid because of the low lying flood plain.

          2. Re: the layout, it’s fantastic, minus the stadium section, but the current shareholders had nothing to do with the track’s design. Before he was forced out by current COTA boss Bobby Epstein, Tavo Hellmund designed the layout. He’s the guy who secured the race rights from Bernie and got support from the State. Without him, COTA would not exist … and they booted him out.

            Re: the grooves in the runoff, I’m not sure what you’re referring to. The runoffs at COTA are not grooved. They are extremely bumpy though, especially in the esses. Did you mean ‘kerbs’, rather than ‘runoff’?

          3. @timwood Ah, I’m still talking about Road America, which, as the story mentions, is also being repaved.

            As for the runoff “grooves” at RA, I’m talking about the features that you can see here and here — though when you look at it up close, I guess it’s more of a serrated rumble strip-type pattern etched into the concrete. Either way, they do their job as runoff but it’s very difficult to abuse it to gain an advantage, so it’s considered part of the racing surface (even though it’s outside the painted white line). Being able to force drivers out onto it actually really helps the racing in IndyCar and Nascar, because the track is otherwise so narrow. And on the rare occasion that someone does gain an advantage, it’s considered fair play.

            1. Gotcha. Thanks! I thought you were referring to COTA’s runoff.

        2. I would love to welcome more modern F1 equipment and drivers there for a great event including some nice show runs too @uneedafinn2win, @markzastrow, but I am certain that will not happen, and even less so any competative running.

          The track would be deemed unsafe unless major changes made, probably too narrow, facilities upgrades would ruin the surrounding lands etc. And then nobody would pay them to go as far out into the coutryside as that either.

          1. @bascb Oh yes, I was ignoring the commercial aspects of it. But my point is that without adding an inch of runoff or altering the track’s existing character, you could make it safer than Jeddah. You’re right, though, that the track surface is probably too narrow at points to meet the 12-metre minimum for a permanent circuit.

            1. You are certainly not wrong to suggest that with only minor adjustments it would be about as safe (or rather unsafe) to run on as the Jeddah track @markzastrow!

            2. @bascb Haha, but actually, much safer. You certainly would have no visibility concerns, of course, which was the main issue was at Jeddah. And there are no corners where barriers are anywhere as near to the track as Jeddah.

              Really, if you look at Road America,
              there is runoff everywhere—not any less than lots of classic European road courses like Monza and Imola. It’s just not paved. And with so many in the sport clamoring for more gravel traps and less paved runoff, it seems more F1 tracks in future are going to wind up looking more like Road America.

      2. Would easily be in the top ten venues in the calendar. Might not be as good as Suzuka, Spa or Interlagos but after that I think it is as good as anything else on the current calendar.

      3. Elkhart Lake and Mid-Ohio are definitely best circuits in USA. COTA is painfully boring tilkedrom. And Miami would be a new Las Vegas. Would be best to completely ditch them.

    2. About. Time. Too.

    3. On one hand I don’t mind some bumps as they can add a bit of extra character to a track & create a bit more of a challenge.

      However I don’t like it so much when the bumps are so bad that they become a talking point due to damaging cars or creating situations where cars (Or bikes for that matter) are just been unpredictably thrown off track with drivers having no chance to react to save it.

    4. They’re resurfacing about 40% of the track. By not resurfacing the whole track, they’re leaving the circuit with at least 5 surfaces of different ages (2012, 2019, early 2020, mid 2020, and 2022), different compositions, and different grip levels. Portions of those surfaces have also been ground down and not resurfaced. They’re not fixing the substrate or the drainage system, which they need to do before resurfacing (if they want the track to stay smooth longer). Until they do, the rest is pretty much just putting lipstick on a pig.

      The piecemeal approach COTA takes is a joke. And no matter how well they resurface the track, they aren’t serious until they do a proper fix of the drainage system and the substrate beneath the asphalt (not just at T2 and T10, either). The bumps will just keep coming back, just like they did right after the last bump grinding & resurfacing of 40% of the track back in 2019-20. And I’ve already been told by one track repair specialist that paving over a concrete pad won’t work either in the medium to long run. He told me that concrete and asphalt “just don’t get along well together”, and that the concrete pads will also be susceptible to movement on that kind of expansive clay.

      But, it’s COTA. As long as Epstein is in the driver’s seat out there, these half measures will continue to be the norm.

      1. I’d guess they would have to dig up about a metre of the stuff beneath the current tarmac surface, throw in new dirt+stones etc. wait a year to have it settle and then redo the top layers to really get rid of that @gpamericas, which is clearly not going to happen.

        1. Eh, no. They’d have to dig down in some areas, but not the entire track. And they don’t ‘wait a year to have it settle’. They compact it a layer at a time with compacting rollers. This would take just days or weeks, depending on how much needs to be re-filled. They built the whole thing from nothing in about 1.5 years. They could do proper drainage repairs, substrate repairs, and a proper resurface in a 1-3 months, at worst.

    5. I really hope this is for bikes – F1 cars should be being engineered to race on the track, not the track being engineered for the race cars.
      Finally, F1 visits a track with some real character, and they quickly head out to remove it.

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