Verstappen: Bumpy Austin asphalt “not at F1 level”

Complaints from both F1 drivers and MotoGP riders about COTA’s surface quality have become a recurring theme in recent years at the otherwise popular venue.

In response to the initial criticism, COTA repaved some areas in 2022 and further resurfacing was carried ahead of this weekend’s race in Turns 12 and 14-16.

But Red Bull driver Verstappen, who took his 50th grand prix win on Sunday, feels the track surface needs a further overhaul.

“It needs to be redone because at the moment it feels like it’s better suited to a rally car. I’m jumping and bouncing around,” the triple world champion said.

“In an F1 car probably you don’t even see it as much because, of course, we are glued to the ground because of the downforce, but the bumps and jumps that we have in some places, this is way too much. I don’t think it’s F1 level.

“I love this track. Honestly, the layout is amazing but we definitely need new tarmac and it needs to be a lot smoother for the coming years, because we already asking for this for I think quite a few years, and it’s not really been done.”

Max Verstappen, Red Bull Racing RB19, Lando Norris, McLaren MCL60

Photo by: Sam Bloxham / Motorsport Images

Max Verstappen, Red Bull Racing RB19, Lando Norris, McLaren MCL60

Austin’s bumps, which became a bigger concern for F1 since the switch to low ride height ground effect cars in 2022, claimed a first victim in Sunday’s race when Fernando Alonso had to retire after smashing the floor of his Aston Martin.

“The track is brutal here. It’s really very, very tough,” explained team boss Mike Krack.
“And there was one part of the floor, the floor on the right, that is just broken off, like half a metre in length. Just gone.

“We know that this is a hard circuit, you come here, you reinforce everything, you will strengthen the brake ducts, you strengthen the deflectors, you strengthen everything that you can strengthen.”

After the race Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton and Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc were disqualified for excessive wear on their car’s floor plank, which is also thought to be the result of the rough surface.

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Last weekend’s sprint format also meant that teams were locked into parc ferme rules after Friday’s solitary practice session and couldn’t tweak their set-ups to account for additional skid pad wear without losing their grid spot.

Speaking before he was thrown out of the results, Hamilton said: “I like some of the bumps because it adds character to a circuit, but there’s way too many.

“As drivers in the GPDA we are open to discussing with them and helping them, like maybe not doing the whole thing so it costs a fortune.

“From the last corner to the start line, for example, that’s smooth. But there are other areas that for sure they could patch up and improve.”

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