Formula 1 Shocked by Shanghai’s Unexpected Track Modification

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Formula 1 Shocked by Shanghai's Unexpected Track Modification
Shanghai's F1 Track 2024

Formula 1 teams were surprised when they arrived at the Shanghai circuit and found the track surface looking different than expected. Despite extensive preparation using simulators and information from Pirelli and the FIA, they were caught off guard by the visibly changed track.

Drivers described the surface as appearing “painted,” but it turned out to be a liquid bitumen treatment applied last year to reduce the degradation of the old asphalt. Over time, parts of this treatment had worn away on the racing line, resulting in a two-tone appearance.

Not only did the surface look different, but it also affected grip levels, particularly where the bitumen remained intact versus where it had worn away. Surprisingly, neither the FIA nor Pirelli had notified teams of this treatment, as is customary for material changes to the circuit.

Pirelli usually sends engineers in advance to provide updated track data, but this wasn’t possible due to scheduling conflicts. The issue only became apparent when Pirelli’s engineers arrived at the circuit, causing surprise among the teams.

Formula 1 Shocked by Shanghai's Unexpected Track Modification
Shanghai’s F1 Track 2024

F1 chief engineer Simone Berra noted the lack of communication from the FIA regarding the treatment, stating they were unaware of it until they inspected the track on Wednesday. Despite FIA race director Niels Wittich being aware of the treatment, it was deemed unnecessary to inform the teams.

While the grip changes weren’t as extreme as previous incidents, such as the Turkish Grand Prix in 2020, Berra emphasized the importance of better communication between circuits and the FIA regarding track alterations.

Looking ahead, the FIA aims to improve collaboration with circuits to ensure such information is communicated in advance. The surface treatment issue will be resolved in 2025, as Shanghai plans to undergo a complete resurfacing before next year’s race.


By Preksha Sharma

being me means you've got to love cars, coffee and gilmore girls. sorry i don't make the rules.

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