The United States Grand Prix took place last weekend at the ever popular Circuit of the Americas. While the track is popular amongst fans and drivers alike, the teams were concerned prior to the weekend of potential issues caused by the bumpiness of the track surface. Issues were raised at the recent MotoGP event at the circuit, and even as far back as F1’s most recent running at the track in 2019.
While the aggressive bumps on the track surface did not lead to concerns of driver safety, they did lead to a more difficult weekend for the teams as they made setup compromises in suspension and ride height to allow the cars to ride the bumps. The high stress levels caused by the bumps also led to damage on a number of cars, including a hairline crack found by Red Bull on Verstappen’s car, while Esteban Ocon retired from the Grand Prix following a failure which may have been caused by the uneven surface.
Motorsport.com asked Ocon if he felt the bumps were acceptable for modern F1, to which he said they were “on the limit”.
“They are on the limit for reliability and I think [if they go] a little bit more if we come back next year, and it’s another step, then I think the cars will start to really face issues,” said Ocon.
“When you go slow it is not a big problem, but once you start going fast and it's big hits on the floor, on the suspension, the engineers start seeing red alarms and high loads.
“That's obviously not something that we should see. So I think the track needs need some work for next year.”
Andrew Shovlin, the trackside engineering director at Mercedes admitted the bumps were difficult to work with, but added the team had been preparing for bigger issues.
“It was quite tricky, and very difficult to say if that was a bigger issue for us than the Red Bull,” said Shovlin.
“I think the Red Bull had a stronger rear end here and, when you are overheating [the tyres] and bouncing around like that, rear grip is your friend. I think that is an area where their car seems to be performing very well.
“But we were probably braced for bigger issues in terms of car set-up and damage with the bumps, and it seemed to cope with it reasonably well.”