Formula 1, the pinnacle of motorsport, constantly evolves with advancements in technology and design. The question of whether the current iteration of Formula 1 cars can handle low-speed corners has been a topic of discussion among drivers and enthusiasts. One prominent voice in this debate is Aston Martin driver Fernando Alonso, whose insights shed light on the challenges posed by circuits like the one in Las Vegas.
Alonso, a seasoned veteran of the sport, expressed his opinion that the current Formula 1 cars are not ideally suited for low-speed corners, such as those encountered on the street circuit in Las Vegas. These corners follow high-speed straights where the cars reach speeds in excess of 350 kilometers per hour. The combination of high-speed straights leading to low-speed corners presents a unique challenge to both drivers and their machinery.
In Alonso’s view, the street circuit layout in Las Vegas doesn’t provide the same level of enjoyment as the classic Formula 1 circuits with their long sweeping bends. He points out that factors like low temperatures and low grip levels during the inaugural Grand Prix weekend in Las Vegas added to the complexity of the circuit. These conditions demanded a high level of adaptability from the drivers and their cars.
Despite Las Vegas’s street circuit surpassing the top speeds of renowned tracks like Monza and boasting average speeds comparable to Spa-Francorchamps over a single lap, Alonso’s perspective highlights the importance of a car’s ability to handle various types of corners. Modern Formula 1 cars excel on circuits with flowing, continuous turns rather than abrupt stops and starts.
Alonso’s insights into the adaptability of Formula 1 cars to different circuit layouts provide valuable context for fans and experts alike. It’s a reminder that while speed is crucial in the sport, the balance between high-speed capabilities and low-speed cornering is equally important for both driver enjoyment and competitive racing.
Alonso emphasized the importance of upholding Formula 1’s traditional races, where the modern F1 car can truly showcase its capabilities. During a conversation with the media and Total Motorsport, he elaborated on this point:
“We need balance, as we said this week.
“There is not much fun to drive this kind of circuit at speeds of 360 kilometres an hour with no grip, no visibility, bouncing and those kinds of things.
“I know the show from the outside maybe looks good, but these cars are not made to go through corners at 80kph.
“These cars are made to go in Suzuka, to go in Barcelona, to go and Silverstone and maximise F1 potential.
“I think we need to balance the championship and balance the calendar. I think it’s what we are doing, but I don’t think that this is the only way to go.
“I think we need to have to keep some traditional races as well, where the F1 car can shine.”
Despite encountering an incident at the outset of the Las Vegas Grand Prix, Alonso received a timely assist from the Safety Car, enabling him to rejoin the pack and secure the ninth position. He went on to state:
“I lost the car. I don’t know if I was in a sandwich between two cars or if I was alone, I don’t know yet.
“I thought it was over when I saw the Alfa Romeo and I was facing the wrong way, so I’m happy with the final result and scoring some points.
“The only thing is the level of grip as we touched on yesterday. I think it’s extremely low. I know it’s the same for everybody, but on a street circuit sometimes there is a danger factor that we need to weigh as well, I think Lando crashed quite hard into Turn 12.
“The level of grip and the temperature put the tyres under a lot of stress, a lot of graining.
“Maybe we can improve things into next year because we will learn from this season, but I think the race was good.”