2018 Silverstone MotoGP Race Abandoned: A Bad Weekend Turns Disastrous For Everyone

On Saturday evening, Stuart Pringle, Managing Director of Silverstone Circuit, told a small group of journalists that the delays and problems caused by the wet track during FP4 were due to the unusually heavy rainfall, and not the resurfaced track. "It was a Biblical downpour," he told us. "It was more like a monsoon you’d see in Malaysia than heavy, normal rain. The drainage on the circuit is very good." He was not worried about racing on Sunday, because although rain was forecast, it was not a deluge. "It’s heavy rain, but it’s not the kind of cloud burst stuff we saw earlier. Is it going to be more of a challenge if it’s wet? All circuits are more challenging in the wet than the dry. So I think we’re set for a good race tomorrow."

Sunday proved Stuart Pringle wrong. It wasn't the quantity of water which caused the problems. It was the fact that water simply wasn't being drained fast enough to allow riders to ride safely, or as safely as can reasonably be expected of traveling at over 300km/h on a wet track, braking as late as possible in a close pack, as 23 riders battle for position in the opening laps. There was standing water in just about every section of the track, causing the MotoGP bikes to aquaplane while on their sighting lap, a lap taken usually at nine tenths, rather than ten tenths. They were aquaplaning while accelerating, at speed, and while braking.

Bikes aquaplaning had caused Tito Rabat and Franco Morbidelli to crash while braking for Stowe. But Morbidelli had crashed after Rabat, and the Italian's Honda had flown across the gravel and struck Rabat as he sat in the gravel trap, breaking the femur, tibia and fibula in his right leg, and putting him out of action for months rather than weeks. Nobody who saw that wanted to suffer the same fate. Or worse.

Monitored

The mess of FP4, and especially Rabat's injury, caused Dorna to reevaluate the schedule for Sunday's race. After consultation with the UK government's weather service, the Met Office, it was decided that the best chance for holding a MotoGP race would be to start as early as possible. Rain was expected to start falling some time around 11am, then get heavier as the day progressed. The starting order of the Moto3 and MotoGP races was swapped, and the start of the MotoGP race set for 11:30am.

Starting earlier was not an option, Race Director Mike Webb explained in a press conference organized at the end of a thoroughly disastrous day for the Silverstone circuit. "We discussed with the teams and agreed on the times to start," Webb explained. "We discussed about earlier starts, but the teams and more specifically the organizers need a certain amount of time to get the people into the circuit in the morning, and that is also a consideration. We need to consider the promoters' needs as well. The compromise and the times agreed were after consolation with all teams and the promoters."

It started spitting with rain during Moto3 warm up, then turning to light rain by the end of the session. It kept raining through the Moto2 warm up, the track still wet, but so far, free of standing water. It kept raining for the 40 minutes between the end of Moto2 warm up and the MotoGP teams going out to the grid for the start of the race. In that period, standing water had started to collect on Silverstone's new surface.

When the riders returned from their sighting lap, a delegation went to talk to IRTA and Dorna officials about conditions. The track was unsafe, they reported. There was standing water all around the track – not just in the braking zones for Stowe and Vale, as there had been during FP4 on Saturday – and the bikes were aquaplaning everywhere. The start was delayed until weather conditions improved.

Long periods of boredom.

And so we waited. The rain fell, and we waited some more. It got heavier, and our hopes sank. It eased off, and our hopes were raised, until we saw the images of the safety car struggling to maintain traction in the standing water on the track. If a car weighing some 1900kg, with four wide tires was struggling for grip, how would a 157kg MotoGP bike on a few centimeters of rubber manage?

As some of you may know, I have been working as pit lane reporter for the Eurosport Netherlands, the Dutch-language feed of the international broadcaster. This can sometimes be a disadvantage during a race, but this time, it gave me a unique insight into what was going on, and the general atmosphere among the teams. I asked people on air what they thought, and killed the time waiting in informal chats with others. The overwhelming majority of responses from riders, team managers, crew chiefs, and others was that it was just impossible to race. A wet track is one thing, standing water is another.

Riders were mostly convinced that not racing was the right decision, with a few exceptions. Jack Miller felt frustrated that the entire paddock had put on a show, and the fans had come from all over to sit in the rain, and there was nothing for them to see. Both Scott Redding and Bradley Smith were very disappointed that they would not be able to race in what would have been their last home Grand Prix for the foreseeable future. Redding was especially frustrated, knowing how fast he was in the wet, and knowing that a good result at Silverstone would be a big boost for him in finding another ride for next year. As he passed me as he was leaving the grid after the race was delayed for the first time, Loris Baz shouted into my microphone, "I want to race!"

Overwhelmingly, however, the reaction, from riders such as Cal Crutchlow and Bradley Smith, and from team managers and others, was that it was simply not safe. Everyone wanted to race. But with Tito Rabat's injury fresh in their minds, they were all too aware of the risks involved. Everyone expressed both sympathy and admiration for the crowds who sat waiting patiently in the grandstands, in the freezing cold and the pouring rain, with nothing to look at except replays, slow-mos, and messages from the organization.

The wrongdoers

The circuit could count on a great deal less sympathy. "We raced here in worse weather in 2015 with no problems," one senior factory person commented to me, their face signaling a combination of frustration and disgust. The word which cropped up again and again was "disaster", in English, in Spanish, in Italian, in every language spoken in the paddock. And the blame was laid entirely at the door of the circuit, or at the door of the contractor responsible for the resurfacing, who were brought in by the circuit.

An hour passed. Then another hour. The safety car went out at regular intervals to inspect the track. At a certain point, the circuit sent out sweeper trucks to try to clear what water they could from the surface. If anything, those efforts just emphasized how bad the problems with the new asphalt were. As the trucks passed, they left a section of track which had been cleared of water, into which water quickly seeped. Within a minute or so of them passing, the track was just as wet as it had been before.

Meetings were convened to discuss what to do, the general gist of which was to wait as long as possible to try to race, sacrificing each race as the projected schedule began to exceed the amount of daylight left. It was decided that racing on Monday – an official holiday in the UK – would not be possible, four factory teams rejecting the idea. The race start was scheduled for 2pm, pending a track inspection at 1:30pm. Cars lapped, but the track was still too wet. Another inspection was to be held at 3pm, and again, the track was too wet.

Nearly there

A statement was issued to the teams: there would be a track inspection at 4pm, with the hope of starting a race at 4:50pm. If the track still wasn't ready, then we would continue to wait, dropping races until we ran out of daylight, with a hard limit of finishing proceedings by 7:30pm.

The track inspection didn't happen. About 20 minutes before, riders started gathering in the IRTA office truck, to discuss what to do next. Rider safety liaison Loris Capirossi arrived, as did Dorna bigwigs Carmelo Ezpeleta and Manel Arroyo. Team managers came too, making their way through a throng of fans and media. The riders gathered in the meeting room, while team managers waited in the corridor outside.

Around 3:55pm, the riders came out. Though neither riders, officials, nor team managers were keen on talking, the message was clear. We would not be going racing. The British Grand Prix was canceled, all three races.

"We have to address the situation of why we didn't race today, Cal Crutchlow explained later that evening. "As has been explained, the Safety Commission decided it was not possible to race today in any condition – if it continued to stop raining or if it continued to rain. Just simply because if it rained a lot when you are halfway around the lap and you get to the next corner you don't know how deep the water is. You don't understand the situation, like we didn't yesterday and you saw what happened, five guys crashed."

High risk, low reward

There may have been a brief space of time where they could have attempted to start a race, at least, Crutchlow said, but it was a huge risk. "There was a window earlier in the day, I felt as well. I don't know the reasons why we didn't go out or not to go then. But earlier when we went to the grid, it was impossible to race. That's for sure. Then also in afternoon they were still trying to disperse the water for a long time. And then it started to rain again. So when the actual people were out on the track trying to move the water, it started to rain again after that window. So in the end I don't really know if there was a massive window. Then if you go out on the track and like I said, it downpours like yesterday, you're in big, big trouble."

The problems with the surface were everywhere, Crutchlow reported. "It was most of the track, yeah. I came out of pit lane and started to change gear and you were just spinning, spinning… and not spinning like a used tire, you were spinning on surface water. So you can imagine when you shut the throttle or brake with the front brake, you are aquaplaning with the front not the rear. You can half manage to aquaplane with the rear because you have a throttle in your hand. But when you have a brake in your hand and it's to do with the front it's a lot more difficult, the situation. There were dryer parts of the track, but it was completely offline and that wasn't the issue. The issue was going to be when 23 bikes on the track and you're all trying to race."

Marc Márquez had also seen a very brief window in which a race could have been started, but the weather would never have held for 16 laps. "There were ten minutes from 2pm to 3pm where it was possible to race, but who could guarantee that by lap three heavy rain would not start on the back straight and we would arrive there with everyone aquaplaning and [there being] a big injury like yesterday or a big accident? In other circumstances…I mean it was not raining a lot but a problem was the asphalt and next year we want to come back here and try to compensate all these fans but to come back in a good way we need to resurface the asphalt."

The Repsol Honda rider described how the decision to cancel the race had been taken. "They organized a safety commission and we sat together there and we analyzed. Personally - and all the riders I think – I want to thank Dorna because they listened to us and our comments and since we started the meeting they said ‘you will have the decision’ and in the end everybody gave their opinion. We have one mate in the hospital with a very big injury so we considered the safety first of all and there was no way."

No control

Márquez described the total loss of control which aquaplaning on a motorcycle entails. "It’s like when you drive in the wet and when you cannot control the car. The bike is the same," he said. "You arrive there, you try to brake and it doesn't work, you just go straight and with the bike. You cannot turn or do anything. That's the most dangerous. There was not a lot of water in parts but with the bumps and everything there were some areas with a lot of water and when you arrive there it is so easy to crash and lock the brakes. That's the problem. If you are riding alone on the track you can manage, but with 24 bikes riding, if you crash or someone crashes behind you, it becomes very dangerous."

Both Márquez and Crutchlow were devastated for the fans who had paid out good money, traveled to Silverstone, sat all day in the rain, and leave again having seen no racing whatsoever. "It was hard to wait and to see and then to take the decision, because we want to race, and we could see all the fans in the grandstand and we wanted to ‘compensate’ them," Márquez said.

"I'm very disappointed and devastated that the fans never got to see a race today," Crutchlow said. "Also for everybody who watched, who turned up, who worked all weekend, the marshals that sat there. As I said, it's disappointing, but we all wanted to race. All the riders came here this weekend to race. It's not that we just turn around and say, 'we'll have a weekend off'. We don't want to be sat here either not being able to put on a show for the fans that have turned up. We tried our best, but this was the decision of the Safety Commission, that we wouldn't ride."

In a brewery

Márquez and Crutchlow were not the only riders to feel sorry for the fans that they had come all that way, suffered through so much, and left again unrewarded. On Monday, Dorna released a video in which a number of riders offered their apologies for not being able to race.

Afterwards, there were complaints from some riders who had not been invited. Andrea Dovizioso had not been present, nor had Valentino Rossi, Scott Redding, or Loris Baz. That was because the meeting had not been convened by either Dorna or IRTA, in their capacity as organizers of the series or team organizers respectively.

What had happened was that riders had started to head to the IRTA offices, to discuss the situation with IRTA staff. Aleix Espargaro and Dani Pedrosa appear to have been the first to head to the IRTA trucks, and then word had got round. Jorge Lorenzo headed there after being informed by his and Espargaro's manager Albert Valera, while Marc Márquez saw other riders entering the IRTA truck on the Dorna live TV feed which was playing in garages and in race trucks, and had headed in the same direction.

That lack of organization meant that not everyone was represented, though perhaps only five or six riders were missing. The overwhelming majority of the riders present had voted to abandon the event, however, with only Jack Miller and Johann Zarco stating that they wanted to race. Even if all 23 riders had been present, that would not have swayed the vote.

Context matters

That doesn't excuse the fact that such an important decision was taken in an ad hoc fashion. Safety Adviser Loris Capirossi was called to the meeting urgently, just as he was about to commence a track inspection. Once riders started assembling, someone in authority should have taken the lead to call an official meeting, and ensure that everyone who wanted to be there, was there.

Again, that probably would not have changed the decision of the majority. And if the majority of the riders decide something is unsafe, Dorna follows their lead, almost unquestioningly. "I feel there is a good relationship between the riders and Dorna," Bradley Smith had said on Saturday. "I believe there is enough trust, belief and faith in that we have to do with what is safe. We are here to be safe; that's one thing that Dorna does fantastically."

Privately, some senior paddock figures will tell you that they feel that the riders have too much power over certain decisions, and that Dorna CEO Carmelo Ezpeleta is too willing to concede to rider demands. Sometimes, they will tell you, the tail is wagging the dog. In this case, however, the dog was happy to be wagged. And it was the right thing to do.

Mike Webb Speaks

Not long after the impromptu safety commission had disbanded, after deciding to cancel the race, Dorna organized a press conference to explain what had happened. Race Director Mike Webb, along with MotoGP Safety Advisor Loris Capirossi and FIM Grand Prix Safety Officer Franco Uncini explained the decision, and fielded questions from journalists.

"We have been forced to cancel today’s event due to the track conditions," Webb said. "Primarily, it’s due to water accumulated on the surface. I think you’ve all seen the results of when we’ve been running in heavy rain that the circuit in some places is not safe, because of the way the water does not drain from the surface. We did everything we possibly could to run an event today. Obviously the very last thing any of us wants to do is to cancel an event, however safety remains our priority."

Webb went on to outline what Race Direction, in conjunction with the circuit and Dorna, had done in order to try to put on a race. "We attempted to start the race this morning," he said. "It was obvious the track conditions weren’t safe. After that, in consultation with the riders we made a start delay to discuss the situation further."

"When it was obvious that the track condition was not improving - even when the rain abated a little, the track surface was still too wet - we discussed various options, including running tomorrow. That was discussed with the teams and with the circuit promoters, the organizers. It was concluded that that was not a possibility. So the other possibility that the circuit requested, that we agreed with, was to delay today as much as possible until such time as the conditions were safe. We’ve reached the point where even though the rain is getting less, the circuit is still not in a condition that we could safely run races. So we’ve taken the very difficult regrettable decision to cancel."

New asphalt

The culprit was obviously the new surface. MotoGP had raced at Silverstone in 2015 in worse rain, and that had gone off without incident. There had been plenty of rain in other years too, including a deluge in 2011. "We’ve had a number of years’ experience here in very wet conditions recently with the old surface and have been able to run races," Webb said. "This year, with the new surface, it's the first time we’ve encountered quite so much standing water in critical places on the track. So yes, it’s a direct result of the track surface."

Webb acknowledged the efforts the circuit had made to try to stage a race during the day. "I must say from the circuit point of view, the staff have done an unbelievable effort over the whole weekend, not just today, but an enormous effort to try to make the track safe. Until the last minute they were still working, but unfortunately we couldn’t battle nature."

The plan, had the track been clear enough to even consider a race, was to have a short session of practice first, Webb explained. "What we were always aiming at, depending on the weather, was, the first possibility was a short practice session of 10 minutes or so, to evaluate the track, and then on to running what's already in the rule book, the wet start procedure where you open the pit lane for 10 minutes instead of 5 and let them through. That's what the start procedure was going to be. Should we have started the race, it would have been a wet race start procedure, to allow them more time on track."

The track never cleared up enough to even consider that option, however. Webb: "But we never really got to that point, because even with the rain almost zero, the track conditions weren't improving, even with sweeping it. So the real decision was the track condition rather than how much practice time had been available or anything like that."

Moto3 and Moto2

Even though Moto3, with much lower speeds and narrower tires, would have been less affected by the rain, and not had so much to fear in terms of aquaplaning, trying to run Moto3 was never considered an option. "If the Safety Commission conclusion is that the track is unsafe, it’s unsafe for everybody," Mike Webb said. "So I think it’s irresponsible of us to think that we could not run a MotoGP race and then send Moto3 out for a race. If the track is unsafe, it’s for everyone."

Though the Moto3 and Moto2 riders had not been consulted, talks had been held with some of the team managers. "Today, we did not have any riders from Moto2 or Moto3," Loris Capirossi told the press conference. "But we are also talking with some managers in Moto2 and Moto3 and when we decided with a strong decision like that we are thinking about safety. The safety needs to be the same for Moto2 and Moto3."

If the surface not dispersing water properly, and not draining surface water, how did it get homologated? FIM Safety Officer Franco Uncini had visited Silverstone to inspect the new surface back in March, shortly after it had been laid, and then a few days before the event was supposed to be run.

Road vs track

The track had been perfect when he had first seen it in March, Uncini said. "I came at the beginning when they laid down the new asphalt that was at the end of February and at the time I did the inspection and the tarmac looked very good, a matter of bumps, connection and also grip. A factor that was confirmed by Cal Crutchlow who did a test on a bike one month later and he confirmed the two places that I said that were a little bumpy. The circuit reacted and adjusted these two bumps and in fact they said it was really perfect at this time."

Cal Crutchlow confirmed that. "When I came here just before Le Mans the surface was basically brand new from the winter and it was completely… no bumps at all. But I rode it in 25 degrees, daylight. So you can never tell. You can tell it's a good surface, and it was a good surface, no bumps, and now it's a lot of bumps and the water is obviously staying on top of the surface. But the bumps today were not the problem, we know that. It's nothing to do with it." Crutchlow had tested the surface riding a Honda RCV1000R, shod with slicks, he said.

The change to the track had happened since that test, Franco Uncini explained. "Slowly we discovered at the time, and now we discovered during Formula 1 that it was bumpy. It was from March to July that was the situation of the tarmac – I don’t know what happened. They will do a deep study in the next six weeks to see what is the reason because in February and March it was good."

Mealy mouthed

Silverstone Managing Director Stuart Pringle confirmed that the circuit would carry out tests, and engage an independent body to evaluate them. "We need to make a serious investigation into this and we need to find out what has gone on ... We need to get to the bottom of this ... We will be getting some independent eyes on this as well."

That investigation out to bring to light exactly what was causing the problems, Pringle said, and how the track had changed between March and July. "That's precisely the kind of question that will be answered when we analyze the data," he said. "Thank goodness that we got the scans when we did, because we do have data now that we can analyze." The circuit had laser scans of the surface, creating a 3D model of the track surface, taken both before and after the new asphalt had been laid, as well as after the F1 races in July.

That won't answer the question of why the track doesn't drain surface water fast enough, however. Other series have complained of aquaplaning since resurfacing, and the website Daily Sports Car noted that the new surface had a tendency to accumulate standing water earlier this month. "In the wet it's a far trickier track, as there’s no real drainage now, the water sitting on the surface," they wrote.

Missing inspector

Should this not have been picked up by Franco Uncini when he inspected the track? "There is no system to check the track in the wet," Uncini explained in the press conference. "We don’t check the track in the wet, we check in the dry and presume on wet it should be okay with the correct drainage and inclination of the track everywhere. We only trust the company who makes the asphalt and trust the circuit."

There were things which they could check, Uncini said. "We just check that the circuit is not bumpy, has good grip, and is not slippery and that it is well done – there is no gap in between the kerbs and the asphalt. All these examples we cannot check when wet, for example when wet how wet does it need to be? We need to consider whether it would be okay or not. What is the system to check that? Effectively the only system is to check with a MotoGP bike on a completely wet track which is quite impossible."

What would that entail? First, having a rider on standby capable of riding a MotoGP bike close to race speed. Secondly, having a MotoGP bike ready and waiting at the track on a day when the track is wet. Thirdly, having a time slot when a rider could test the wet track, even during a pre-booked event. Fourthly, not running into problems with noise levels produced by a MotoGP bike, which is a good bit louder than the average sports car, touring car, superbike, or everything except for a commercial jet.

The other alternative is trying to wet the track completely in an attempt to emulate heavy rain. As Dorna and the Losail International Circuit found at Qatar, this turns out to be incredibly difficult. "Unfortunately, I have to admit to being a little bit surprised at how difficult it was to wet the track at Qatar to run the practice, how enormous that exercise is," Mike Webb told us. "And to be able to do the same here over the length of the track, to put serious amounts of water on the track, I'm doubtful whether we could achieve that and get a result that meant anything."

Testing vs racing, no conmext

Lining up a test on a fully wet day would be the best option, according to Webb. "But having a test on a day like yesterday or today? Yes, brilliant. But we just have in the right place at the right time. Apart from that, this is new to us, because as Franco [Uncini] said, he evaluates the track for various things that mean something in the dry, grip and all of that. And everywhere we go, the track when it's wet, yes it's wet but the water drains away. It might have a problem in two or three places, which you can attack and fix. This seems to be, sure, there are some places worse than others, but it seems to be everywhere."

Silverstone MD Stuart Pringle, however, did his best to deflect any questions about blame, and who had failed in providing a surface which was up to racing in the rain. "We need to make a serious investigation into this and we need to find out what has gone on," he said. "I can’t do that now. I can’t give you any answers. I know that the contractor, Aggregate Industries, did this because they are proud of their workmanship and proud of the quality of their product and they did this to gain brownie points, and for the benefits it would bring them, not to sit here at the end of a long day and have question marks placed over the quality of their workmanship. But it would be unfair to round on them now when we don’t have data. We need data."

https://twitter.com/AggregateUK/status/970645299088764928

Meanwhile, angry fans who had sat in the rain at Silverstone had found the Twitter feed of Aggregate Industries, and were piling on to their post about resurfacing Silverstone. The company's Social Media manager is in for a nasty surprise when they return from the long Bank Holiday weekend on Tuesday.

The buck stops here.

Try as Stuart Pringle might to deflect blame, a reckoning is coming for Silverstone, and for Aggregate Industries. This is the first time since 1980 that a race had to be canceled, and then it was because of snow at the Salzburgring. (There have been plenty of events which were boycotted due to conditions, as Mat Oxley's latest blog relates). The fans who bought tickets for Sunday will have to be given a full refund, and those who had passes for multiple days will have to receive at least partial compensation.

As ticket sales are just about the only source of revenue for a circuit from a MotoGP race, this will leave Silverstone substantially out of pocket. They will not recoup the millions for Euros they pay to Dorna for the rights to hold the race, nor will Dorna forgo the fee. They will have to resurface the track if they want to host a round of MotoGP at Silverstone once again, as everyone inside Dorna, and all of the riders agreed that this would be an absolute prerequisite. They may be able to recoup the fee they paid to Aggregate Industries, or perhaps even the sanctioning fee they paid to Dorna, but that will cause complications if they want to work with the same firm to try to resurface the track again.

Pringle was clear about the track's commitment to MotoGP, however. "We are committed to trying to run MotoGP here," the Silverstone boss said. "We haven't worked this hard to get this far to just toss the towel in now, so we need to understand what's gone on, and we need to understand what the implications of the requirements of that are."

New beginnings

But he was still optimistic of hosting the series in the future. "I'm actually really confident about the future of MotoGP at Silverstone, because we're deadly serious about our commitment to the championship," Pringle said.

Is he right to be confident? So far, Pringle's confidence has proved to be little more than bluster. On Saturday, he assured us that the only reason for the problems with aquaplaning during FP4 was because of the exceptionally torrential rain in a short period. On Sunday, with the kind of heavy rain you can reasonably expect on any English summer day (honestly, non-UK fans, that's how cold and how wet it can sometimes be...) the track wouldn't drain enough to allow the teams to race.

Somebody messed up. Who that is, is hard to pinpoint. What we can be sure of is that the resurfacing is a failure, and has failed to address the problems at the track. Where the blame lies for that is complicated. Did the contractor, Aggregate Industries mess up? Did Silverstone mess up by allowing use of the track before it had properly settled and developed, or had the surface had enough time to cure? Did Silverstone make a mistake in awarding the contract to Aggregate?

Zaffelli knows.

The truth lies in the middle of that knotty tangle. As renowned circuit designer Jarno Zaffelli told Italian website Corsedimoto, there are no simple answers. The circuit, the contractor, and the senior staff who signed off on this contract should all consider their positions. Somebody needs to take responsibility for what started off as a minor cock up, but turned out to be a massive systemic failure. After all, what is the point of a circuit in the UK if it can't handle a little rain during the weekend?

For a nuanced view of the complexities involved, I strongly recommend reading the Corsedimoto interview, even if you have to use an online translation tool such as Google Translate or Bing to translate the Italian into your own language. Zaffelli points out that there are multiple parties involved in a resurfacing project, each with their own responsibilities, and those responsibilities can depend on just how the project is organized.

Zaffelli also points to the role of the riders: would they have been inclined not to race if Tito Rabat had not suffered such a horrendous injury on Saturday? If he had not been hit by Morbidelli's Estrella Galicia Honda, perhaps Rabat would be fit to race on Sunday, rather than waiting for months to heal up after a horrific accident.

The 2018 MotoGP round knew nothing but losers. The biggest losers are the circuit, and everyone working for them, as the track has managed to destroy its credibility, and lose the confidence of the MotoGP teams and management. Dorna and IRTA made the right decision, but they did not cover themselves in glory by failing to organize a rider meeting. The riders and teams wasted a Sunday sitting around waiting for something to happen, twiddling their thumbs and doing nothing for the motorcycles involved.

But perhaps the biggest losers, and the most undeserved, were the MotoGP fans. They paid good money to sit in the cold and rain and get very wet, without the reward of seeing a race at the end of it. The marshals, too, and the volunteers who help run the circus: without them, nothing is possible, and we would barely leave our own driveway, let alone go racing at the very highest level.

This cannot happen again. The UK is too important a market, and too important a keystone in the history of Grand Prix motorcycle racing, not to have a MotoGP round at a British track. But realistically, only Silverstone and Donington are capable of hosting Grand Prix racing. The riders are refusing to race at Silverstone, and that leaves only Donington. At Misano, Dorna is due to publish the provisional 2019 MotoGP calendar. You get the distinct feeling that the British GP will be added in pencil, rather than pen at this stage. And the venue is anybody's guess.


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Total votes: 179
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Comments

Solid writeup especially amidst utter chaos.  The best thing from the weekend, and one I will take away from it if no one else.....nobody died.  Had the powers that be pushed forward and risked safety we might have lost a rider, or two, or three.  I am truly sorry for the fans but standing water on a motorbike is a recipe for complete disaster.  No one lost their life this weekend, and we must all be glad for that.  Even though it doesn’t seem that way now, the sport is better for the decisions made.  

Get well Tito.  We are all rooting for you.

Total votes: 40

All the points made are valid and I fully agree, racing in those conditions would have been disastrous. However, I still don’t understand why we couldn’t have raced Monday? Testing trumps racing? Dorna should have made a firm decision in this regard. The testing could have been postponed. I’m pretty confident both Ducati and Yamaha would have wanted to race, they had a good opportunity to get some points back from Marc. The only winners in this situation is HRC and Marc. 

Total votes: 23

Actually 4 factories were against racing on Monday - Yamaha among them. They have testing in Spain on Wednesday. Which is a logistic nightmare (meaning that on Monday evening they should pack amd be ready in Aragon on Tuesday evening - by car it takes 18h, I am not sure about trucks though).

 

I assume they wanted to test in Aragon because theu atruggle there usually. If they postponed it, they would no longer be allowed test since it violates rules (if race is yet to happen on the track, there needs to be several weeks (forgot how much) between the test and race). Not to mention that private test costs several hundred thousand EUR...

Total votes: 1

If it can help, after comparing different solutions I recommend Deepl.com for translations. 

Not perfect but it offers multiple words choice... 

Thank you for the great writing David.  I have some comments.. Coming soon. As sson as I get into a quiet place to write

Total votes: 9

could it be that the very unusual dry spell  cause the ground to carry the water rather soak it up?

Total votes: 9

caused the gound to dry out and the earth shrink, possibly but they were laying on top of an old bed which would have seen similar changes over time like in 1976 etc.

Total votes: 4

The rain wasn't sitting in a pool at the side of the track, it was on top of the tarmac, going nowhere. I don't think tarmac itself would be affected by drought since it has no water component.

I live 20 miles away, and although we had quite an unusual drought in the area for 7-8 weeks, the drought broke a couple of weeks before the race. I would say the previous two weeks were about normal for the UK. The rain on the day was not unusually hard, as David says. It was more like an April/May sort of day, but still not unusual. It was just a shame it didn't move on and blow out after 3 or 4 hours.

Total votes: 8

Unfortunately after the low opinion expressed by the F1 drivers and Moto GP riders even in the dry the issue lies entirely with the new track surface. Rippled tarmac ground flat-ish with power tools and seemingly no (or not enough) camber to move water off it. Silverstone has run plenty of wet car and bike races since the 2010 rebuild, including Moto GP, the layout hasn't changed, only the track surface.

Total votes: 5

I’m still not sure why the decision was taken not to race on Monday. You say 4 factory teams were against it  but Tardozzi has gone on the record to say Ducati were in favour and I’m surprised KTM and even Suzuki were against also. What was their reasoning? There was a clear advantage in a total cancellation for Honda and Yamaha, I get that, but not for the other teams, factory or satellite.

Other theories were that the broadcasters couldn’t manage the schedule disruption but again, how much premium live sport were they already committed to on a Monday afternoon?

Yet another theory being aired was that the circuit couldn’t guarantee an extra day’s attendance from the marshalls and all the myriad support and service staff - caterers, cleaners, stewards etc etc - and I kinda get this but then again, if there’s a will, there’s a way.  The extra cash incentives would be a lot less than the losses they’re looking at now.

 

 

 

Total votes: 14

I have to say I was surprised. Cal said on BT Sport that he'd be up for it, but he never follows the party line!

Total votes: 8

David, very well considered piece as ever well worth waiting for.

I was there, I gave up and went home before the final announcement, as I was so cold and wet I was past caring. I was also at the wet 2011 and 2015 races, and I can confirm that the rain was definitely no worse. Yesterday you could see the standing water, and they couldn't race on it. I disagree with the nutcases on Twitter saying they should have raced. This is MotoGP, not the Hunger Games.

What a farce. Attendances are already falling, and I will be like many fans in future, I’ll leave my ticket purchase until the last minute, I won’t splash out on a complete weekend again, and I’ll wait until Sat eve before I decide to trawl over to Silverstone (2 hours away). I’ll need a lot of convincing to ever bother about going on a wet day. I wonder how this will impact the British Superbike round in two weeks time? Let’s hope the rain stays away, otherwise there will be another debacle to poison the mix.

Unless attendances drop right down to the 30,000s I’m not keen on Donington. The parking is terrible, and the facilities worse (the queues for the toilets are legendary). And is this small circuit suitable for now near 300 bhp bikes? Also there’s only one grandstand, hardly world class that is it? It’s great for a track day though.

Silverstone needs to now pull out all the stops to redeem itself.

Total votes: 16

Thank you David for this great report. 

What a mess! First and foremost my thoughts go to Rabat. I'm still playing in my mind that horrible crashfest on FP4, and the fact that it could have been much much worse. 

We can lay the blame on Pringle and the circuit, but honestly I think that once again Dorna and IRTA are the major responsible for this unbelievable mess! And there can be no excuses. My impression is that as usual, they are there to cash in as much as they can, but they "wash their hands" about everything else. 

Everybody knew the safety issues,  as Hamilton stated. And Uncini excuse was "we wouldn't have had the time to do anything about it"... really?! How about sending some workers to open some drainage like they did in Sepang after resurfacing ? (BTW: with all due respect: isn't Zaffelli the guy responsible for some of the problems of the new resurfaced Sepang circuit? just asking... and not questioning his outstanding record, but still... ). They had a month to take some action... but they did not.

Again, at Dorna they love to keep things blurred : if there are no rules, then it's easier to get away with everything. Why can't there be a simple rule that states that when the race is canx on Sunday they will race the following day. Teams will know and they will be ready, all the organisation can keep an open option on all workers that expires on 2pm sharp on Sunday if the race take place, and the people who cannot attend will at least have the opportunity to see the race on TV.

It was appaling to see everyone waiting for what ? 6 hours maybe more for nothing... each time the sweep trucks were out it was just ridicolous the amount of water that would not drain away... 

And now IRTA: how can we have a safety commission meeting with nobody being warned? Capirossi  says it's not his job (true) and IRTA's boss Poncharal was too busy talking to French TV explaining how Zarco was better than the 2 official Yamaha...  So some riders just meet up and some showed up because they "saw it on TV"... unf*****gbelievable! True, it would not have made any difference, but it's unacceptable that kind of amateurism at this level. 

It was the right decision not to race, and yes maybe Tito's crash helped in making that decision. Nevertheless, Motogp is not gladiators and lions in the Coliseum. We want good thrilling racing, nobody wants a carnage. I know, I was not there freezing under the rain for many long hours, but I'm sure that every fan of the sport agrees that safety comes first.

Will heads roll ? No, or rather maybe some heads but the wrong ones in my opinion. It's up to Dorna to make sure that the circuit meets the right standards. There will always be shady and/or incompetent contractors, who continue their damaging work knowing that they can get away with it.  While at the upper level nobody seems to be in charge and take responsability. 

And I bet that once again, business will resume as usual until the next bumpy track.

 

Total votes: 24

Unfortunately I have seen, both first hand and as a spectator, that racers are all too slow to turn their gaze uptrack toward the action after a crash. This is especially important in rain (or oil) conditions when multiple bikes in a row may be crashing. I have no idea what could be done to ameliorate this tendency. Riders get dazed, and if uninjured are more interested in remounting or checking for crash damage on the bike. Education? External and internal fixation is a supreme teacher. I wish Tito a speedy and full recovery.

Total votes: 19

Assessing a track for motogp readiness has got to be a real niche skill, but I feel like it's one that Dorna needs to learn how to get right. I recall some anxiety about a resurfaced Sepang as well recently, and with more tracks, the likelihood goes up that in any given season you'll be on a freshly resurfaced track. While motogp bikes are unique, in this instance at least it feels like you could have identified issues with an ex-racer (there are a few?) testing on a superbike (in addition to more engineering-focused assessments). In fact issues had already been identified by club racers, in cars - sometimes listening is a useful skill. Hopefully Silverstone can be a turning point for this, with all parties (track, Dorna, riders) having tasted the bitter pill here. If not, I'm sure there will be an opportunity to re-learn the hard lesson.

Total votes: 9

I was there with my young sons and decided to abondon the event after hours of waiting and no real update!

I think the riders made the right decision but Dorna should have held the race on Monday at the very least and allowed us all to return to the event.

Also I think the riders coud have come out to see the fans in a bus and toured the circuit to wave at us who were soaked to the bone.  It would have gone down so well if the riders came around to the various stands.   

Total votes: 13

Nobody in all of the above, apart from David's odd comment, has given a thought to the vast amount of money expended by hard working people who have now seen a signifcant amount of cash wasted due to a combination of circumstances beyond their, but not the organisers, control.

The word "unprecedented" keeps cropping up in these summaries of the disaster that will come to be known as "Cock-up Silverstone 2018".

OK, let's take that further and agree that the fans who made their way to Silverstone need an "unprecedented" offer of compensation.

The top riders are paid millions each year and are all disappointed they couldn't race. How many of them, plus Dorna and Silverstone, would be prepared to contribute to an "unprecedented" fund to properly recompense the disappointed fans.

I don't just mean the cost of the ticket. Consider, costs to get to the circuit, unpaid time off, camping costs, food and drink, fuel etc.

Of course, none of them would. Stupid of me to suggest it.

Total votes: 18

My husband and I talk all the time about going overseas for a MotoGP vacation, a trip that would easily cost us $5K+. To think we could spend that amount of money, only to have a race cancelled, leaves a sour taste in my mouth. You're absolutely right, it's not just the ticket price for Sunday that should be reimbursed, it's the whole trip. All those expenses (travel, lodging, 3-day passes, food, etc.) will have to be paid again to attend another race, not just a Sunday ticket. I immediately thought of a class action lawsuit for all the spectators who wasted their hard earned money. Needless to say, Silverstone is now off our list for future vacations.

 

Total votes: 17

I live 40 miles from Donington, just by the M1 so can be there in 40 mins. I always used to go for practice but, unless it was a real biggie (Rossi in 2000, 2004 etc), I used to avoid. Poor facilities, no option to pay more to upgrade to the sort of seating freely available in Europe so Europe it was-still is in fact. 

Help me out here guys, Jonathan Palmer is no mug, is known for making money with his MSV-R but did transform the spectator experience in BSB, and is now reaping the rewards. IF, and it’s a big if, MotoGP is a money-maker then JP would want a part of it; before he bought Donington, UNLESS he knew prior it couldn’t possibly host or make money with the necessary investment. I understood FIM had-or were willing to-homologate the track, with minor improvements, but have not sanctioned the whole circuit due to misgivings about the paddock size, parking and mass access. Can anyone verify this? 

Many grandstands around the Worlds’ circuits are temporary, pulled down after. Silverstone has some built I hear are rented out to events around the UK. So if JP has the will and Dorna/FIM can give clear guidance as to what’s needed there may be a window of opportunity; Silverstone’s contract may not be worth the paper it’s written on in light of last weekend going forward. Yes, I am as much a Donington dissenter as the next, but we all know what needs doing and it ain’t impossible, and if it was done you’re close up and personal (at some parts of the circuit anyway), as any GP circuit anywhere. 

I was at Silverstone Saturday, having got 3 advanced tickets for £25 each, with my two 15 year old kids being free, which I was happy to pay. I was never going Sunday, been 2010,11 and 12. (2011 being as wet and as cold!). And despite not being in the market I could not believe what they were asking for walk up entry on race day. For general admission Sunday it was £97.50 with kids 11-15 £57.50 with parking £25- I’ve never seen parking charges at any other circuit, this isn’t F1! I know what you mean Swiftnick but if you rolled up with a family of four on Sunday it would be £335 with parking and no real decent viewing point! No wonder Silverstone want to hang onto it, they keep pushing the ‘Iconic’ word about the circuit but it isn’t in the same league as a Mugello or Assen for bikes, but it knows how to charge much more, that’s why it’ll never have a fondness attached to it from the motorcycling crowds.

I accept they put a lot of effort into the event and the entertainment for the weekend, along with ‘Racemakers’ and lots more, but the vastness of the place will always make most experiences distant, literally. I hope Donington has a go, people are fond of the place IF it can provide the obvious. And don’t get me started on Spain having four races when at least two of them can no longer sell anywhere near all their grandstand seats...

Total votes: 11

Good post. We're between a rock and a hard place:
- Silverstone is an excellent track to race MotoGP bikes, but average for spectating
- Donington is an excellent track for spectating, but average for racing MotoGP bikes

On balance, I would prefer Donington, and I'll live with the hassle of access. Seeing a MotoGP race set off down Craner Curves would make my day.

In terms of getting in and out of tracks, consider cycling! You can get round Silverstone in 20 mins, and pick a different viewing spot per race without too much hassle. And no parking. I know - if everyone did it, it would be a mess, so let's just keep the secret between you and me, eh. :-)

Total votes: 7

There was certainly a lot of cycles circulating on Saturday so I reckon you’ve been rumbled!! Yes, a very good way to get around the vast spaces of Silverstone. It’s a cliche, sure, but the best circuits are the ones that follow the topography, though the ones capable of hosting a modern MotoGP race are ever decreasing. Donington certainly is in this company, as are Mugello, PI, Imola, Salzburgring, Spa etc with the ultimate demonstration of the form the original Nurburgring. With the UK initially averse to motorsport, we are a country full of ex-airfields for race tracks, with a few notable exceptions. The point I guess being, you can build spectator facilities around a ‘natural’ circuit to further enhance its attraction, but you can rarely enhance a featureless venue by doing the same. Silverstone has a very impressive collection of architecture around it, but it’s still a featureless track, whether it’s PR profile tells us it’s iconic or not. It desperately needs some competition and we will soon see if Mr Palmer thinks Donington can be that competition, sadly there is no other choice . Rockingham, being the most modern build in the country, missed the boat badly by trying to model itself only on an American form of racing that was never, ever going to be enough, multiple track days or not. Mind you, having wandered around it during a track day once, I’ve never seen such HUGE grandstands-Mr Palmer, I’m thinking there a bloody good deal to be had there tearing them down (carefully..) and moving them slightly north east...

Total votes: 9

Laguna Seca charged for parking (parking pass).

COTA charges for it as well.

Laguna would let you bring in food/drink in a cooler.  COTA allows bottled water only, absolutely nothing else.  

Total votes: 7

Brno was the same. Bottled water and nothing else. Even had to leave a 500ml coke bottle at the gate.

Total votes: 2

I should have said European circuits, last visit to LS was 1989!

Total votes: 4

Thanks for this excellent and interesting analysis. I think we can now have some insight into the complexity of this situation, and how there is unlikely to be a simple single solution. A couple of thoughts though: I don't think I have ever seen a rider as completely freaked out as Mr Rins after his crash and his efforts to warn other riders, and the look on his face in the pits afterward, said it clearly enough; the wet conditions were impossible. As much as we all respect Jack and Johann i reckon none of us wanted to see such another nasty injury as tib/fib/femur/dislocated knee (OMFG); good thoughts for Tito's recovery on that front.

As much as I do concede the complexity though I think that Jinx's earlier contribution on the subject still has some significant merit. Whenever we hear jawboning about how hard it is to test something like wet weather drainage the overriding impression I got from the article was that it's in the 'too hard' basket. 'So let's not test it at all then'. Yes, you can't pour 10M gallons of water down to test the whole track but maybe a fire hose plus Mr Jinx's bag of marbles might have been of some assistance. And clearly, from now on, you can't just resurface a bloody race track and assume it will be right as rain either. 

Total votes: 8

> I don't think I have ever seen a rider as completely freaked out as Mr Rins after his crash and his efforts to warn other riders

Agreed. Schwantz did something similar - grabbing the oil flag at Donington Redgate to warn other riders, but that was in another century (eek):
https://www.visordown.com/sites/default/files/article-images/0/7083.jpg
https://twitter.com/adiljal/status/635047126808989698

Total votes: 4

Concur with your comments on US circuit's extra fees and restrictions except Cota. You are not allowed to take any sustainance into the circuit, including water. You must empty your water container at entry but are allowed to re-fill in the toilet block.

PS I have succesfully smuggled in sandwiches hidden in my underpants which drew admiring glances from the brolly dollies (only to be dissappointed later).

 

Total votes: 7

It seems from your fantastic piece that the most likely cause of Sunday’s debacle was whatever happened to the track surface after March, probably as a result of F1 & WEC cars pounding the circuit with their mega-downforce.

I wonder whether this will be a watershed weekend for the sport, especially for Silverstone? It seems to me that it should be, and that it’s time to recognize that top-flight motorcycle and car racing cannot share a common venue any longer. I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve read about the bumps, or ripples, caused by cars that ruin the surface for the bikes. Surely our great sport deserves bespoke homes around the world?

I did a little research, and Autosport magazine conducted a poll in June this year, to rank the greatest F1 circuits. These were the top eight results:

1. Spa; 2. Monza; 3. Silverstone; 4. Suzuka; 5. Imola; 6. Montreal; 7. Interlagos; 8. Monaco.

Silverstone apart, none of these circuits are ‘great’ motorcycle racing circuits.

In no particular order (that’s another whole story!), here are possibly the eight greatest motorcycle circuits today:

1. Mugello; 2. Assen; 3. Phillip Island; 4. Brno; 5. Misano; 6. Jerez; 7. Termas De Rio Hondo; 8. Sepang.

None of these are ‘great’ car circuits.

Not only does sharing a circuit lead to surface complications, it also renders the place “mediocre” to both codes.

Its time to realize this, and for Britain to develop a bespoke, world-class motorcycle racing venue. I have no idea how this will be paid for, but Donington Park seems the best place for this. Keep the circuit from Redgate to McLeans or Coppice and build a new link section to increase the length & house a new pits complex. Not cheap, I know, but neither is the mess this past weekend & beyond!

Donington doesn’t host real top-drawer car racing, so won’t lose any meetings, but could certainly gain some - the new jewel in the crown of BSB would certainly command two rounds, plus Moto GP, World SBK, and if the FIM collaborated with Dorna some & promoted the World Endurance championship more, then a UK round could be feasible, maybe strategically positioned in the calendar as a “test” race for Suzuka, like Sebring is for Le Mans with the cars. Add in surface-friendly cars like Touring Cars, GT’s, F3 or whatever, and a full calendar is entirely possible.

So, all we need is a billionaire investor, some joined-up thinking from Dorna & the FIM, the goodwill of Donington Park & her close neighbors, and pigs to start flying - not too much to ask huh??

Total votes: 3

OK, start with the easy solution: Run a second race at Assen and just call it "The British GP". Hell, it's not like het Engels don't know how to find the place already.

But the tricky bit it will take a little more effort. And we can start with tossing the idea that permeable asphalt is a total solution for drainage issues in the rubbish bin. Permeable asphalt can play a role as part of a system, and may be of particular value in reducing wheel spray under mixed conditions. But there are limits that still require that a racing surface be sloped across the direction of travel to properly drain the track.

The first limit to permeable asphalt is the grade in the direction of travel which, which simply stated is: are we going uphill or downhill? Then there is the transition at the end of the graded section, does the track now flatten out, or does it quickly reverse slope? And the latter is the nut to be cracked. And it is also exactly what is transpiring at Silverstone to make Stowe such a challenge to keep free of standing water.

The general opinion of Silverstone is that it is flat and featureless, and while this may have some validity in the aggregate, it is not true about the Hangar Straight and Stowe. The Hangar Straight runs downhill its entire length until the entrance to Stowe, where the track makes about a 100 degree turn to the right, at the same time climbing steeply. So what we have is a viaduct and a dam. And the key to it appears to be this: Controlling the volume of water going into Stowe is equally (and I suspect even more) important than controlling the drainage capacity of that corner.

The area of the entire Hangar Straight is enormous. It is both wide and reasonably long, and it all points straight downhill to Stowe. So unless the total volume of water reaching Stowe is significantly reduced, you get a Duck Pond. There are two methods to control this volume; drainage via slope across the track, and drainage via the permeable surface to a drain field under the racing surface. Only the former is probably valid for Hangar Straight.

We have all seen the demonstrations of permeable asphalt, where buckets are emptied or fire hoses aimed at a nice flat surface and the water magically disappears. This is really no different than placing a screen over a bucket and pouring water on the screen. It will not collect on the screen, but run through into the bucket, with the only limitation being the volume of the reservoir available. As long as there is a gap between the water level and the lip of the bucket we have few worries. But what happens when we tilt the bucket to one side, which simulates the conditions when the grade of the track is running downhill?  In this case the raised part of the rim is the start of Hangar Straight, and the lowest part of the rim is the entrance to Stowe. And it no longer matters whether there is a gap between the water level and the high part of the bucket's lip, because as we all know, the water is going to pour out over the lower lip. So to have a viable reservoir under the track surface like Hangar Straight would require that the entire drain field be excavated below the level where we enter Stowe, which might mean 8m-10m in depth at the beggining of Hangar Straight. A 10m deep excavation under the racing surface is less a drain field and more some kind of Underground Dwarf City from a Tolkien Novel. Water falling on the first part of Hangar Straight will not just sit quietly after passing through permeable asphalt. It will do what all things do; assume the lowest energy state and do so in the manner that requires the least energy to achieve. Which means it is perfectly happy to keep flowing under Hangar Straight until an equilibrium is reached, where it will form a pool. And if this pool reaches a height greater than the racing surface, it will also be perfectly happy to flow right back through our track surface. The literature on this does suggest some options, but these appear to be in the form of a series of under pavement terraces and dams to prevent this unwanted flow. In other words, we have swapped our bucket for an ice cube tray to compartmentalize the flow, and it all begins to look a bit silly when attempted on a large scale (to me at least. The people who do these things treat it as pretty routine).

The other solution, track slope across the direction of travel, is the one that needs to be optimized. Here in Washington State, the standard slope specified is usually 2 degrees (but there are a lot of variables, and it is not one angle fits all solution), while most of Europe and the UK start with 2-1/2 degrees (I believe). Using the 2 degree target, a track width of 20m would require a height change of 0.7m. Well, almost. Because we are still going downhill in the racing direction (grade), so the actual flow of water across (and hopefully off of) the racing surface is in a diagonal direction combining both grade and slope. And this does matter to us as we want the flow path to be as short as possible, as the longer the flow path, the more water will remain on the track surface at any one time.

And it is absolutely required that as much water as possible leave the Hangar Straight before it arrives at Stowe, because things take a particularly nasty turn if it doesn't. Water allowed to flow the full length of Hangar Straight has two variables; volume (mass), and velocity. Which means it has inertia. And when it arrives at the entrance to Stowe it runs smack into an uphill section, which it will attempt to climb until sufficient energy is removed. And if that were all that happened it would be bad, but not nearly as bad as what happens next. Because all of that water that just scampered up the slope of Stowe now wants to follow the call of gravity right back down the slope (just like throwing a brick straight in the air; once the energy you imparted to the brick is dissipated, it will fall back to earth). So now we have a counter-flow, where the water coming back down the slope of Stowe collides with the flow just arriving from Hangar Straight, and things start to pile up on top of each other. One of the comments made after the FP4 fiasco described water depths of 10cm (just under 4" for us Septic’s) at the entrance to Stowe, and unless there are depressions in the track surface there that resemble shell craters, this flow/counter-flow event would appear to be a significant contributing factor.

As would the wind. Especially if it were in a direction that impeded the sideways distribution of rainwater off of the Hangar Straight. Sufficient wind energy will certainly stall (or even reverse) sideways drainage, especially if the slope across the track is weak and feeble. If the sideways drainage is stalled the length of Hangar Straight, then all of that water (and it really is a huge volume) just washes right down to the entrance of Stowe, with its terminal velocity either aided or impeded by any additional angle of the wind relative to the racing direction.

And we can't discount velocity of the flow. Remember, in (almost) all the equations used to calculate these things, we square the velocity. And that brings us to unintended consequences. When all of those horrible ripples that were made by the cars (with significant aero packages) were removed during the repaving, we might have removed features that acted as flow dampers. The ripples and other imperfections may well have attenuated the velocity of the water flowing down Hangar Straight, under some conditions, to an extent that was not fully considered when they were removed. Making the track as smooth as a newborn's bum may have allowed an increase in water velocity right where it was not wanted.

The reason I find the topology of Hangar Straight/Stowe fascinating, other than my being a horribly dull person, is it really is a worst case scenario, and not just for Silverstone. If you want to model a simulation of a corner that would be a nightmare to drain, you could do a lot worse than this little patch of Silverstone. In fact, if you can arrive at the right combination of features that would eliminate water pooling at the entrance to Stowe, I believe you would be well armed to do so anywhere. For a supposedly dull little track (from a topology standpoint, the layout is sublime) there is an awful lot going on. And I would love to hear some input from anyone who knows more about the subject than I do, which is a pretty low bar. My only interaction with Civil Engineering types is that they seem to be perfectly competent at making places for my products to take-off and land from, their personal hygiene appears to be  adequate, and I would consider inviting one to make a foursome if we were a player short. But I would not introduce one to my sister.

I typed up this gibberish to help clarify my own thinking, rather than to offer any real wisdom on the subject (if you want wisdom, read Mat Oxley's stuff or Krop's, which is what I do), so sorry for any collateral damage. But I do feel the following are valid (and please chime in if you feel differently).

1) A permeable track surface is part of a total drainage solution, but is limited by topology.

2) A long downhill grade section terminating in an uphill grade corner is the worst case drainage topology.

3) Track slope (across the race direction) is the controlling factor in limiting the flow into the critical area. Drainage at the critical location cannot be effective unless the inflow volume and velocity are controlled (i.e., the size of your bailing bucket is less important than the size of the hole in the boat).

4) Secondary factors (e.g., wind velocity/direction and track irregularities) may still have a significant impact. If the conditions described in #3 (above) are marginal, they may tip the balance in very much the wrong way.

5) Somebody got either their sums wrong, or failed to meet the specifications, or both, on the Silverstone repaving.

6) Watch that thermometer. Building the substrate/drainage areas when it is colder than a Banker's Heart outside is not a really good idea. I believe this was the case at the last go, and I strongly suspect the result was over-compactment of those volumes, which are constrained at completion and therefore cannot release to the correct densities (even when the temperatures eventually moderate).

7) There are people who know how to do this stuff, and do it right. I sincerely hope both the opportunity and budget are provided to allow them to do so. My fear is that the budget will be the main failure point.

8) While the work at Silverstone proceeds, I would like to have Senor Uncini embark on a survey of every track on the calendar next year by dropping bags of marbles in all the corners and recording the results. There will be no real benefit to this, but I am certain the entertainment value alone would be through the roof.

9) Theres always Assen.

10) Tito took a few tentative steps today, and that matters more than anything written above. Cheers.

PS - While we are at it, move the USGP to a second round at PI (still call it the USGP), and we are starting to make some real progress. Heck, for authenticity we can ship some of our home grown grid girls down under. They are easy to recognize...they are the ones who seem confused that there isn't a chrome pole to dance on (why does the rest of the world get such lovely brolly-dollies...and ours always look as hard as flint?).

Total votes: 16

I think you should get your CV in to Senor Uncini pronto. You might be hanging around most of the year but when a ‘Silverstone’ happens you’ll be in very valuable demand!

I’m glad you uncovered the great myth of Silverstone, that being it may be featureless (relatively), but it ain’t flat. I found myself screaming at the telly as time after time Mr Hodgson used the phrase ‘because it’s so flat...’ Crikey he rode around it often enough. From Copse it climbs, drops into Becketts and, as Jinx’s essay explains perfectly drops right down to Stowe before dropping again down to Club, where it’s flat before climbing after the Great White Elephant, sorry Wing (£27 million to be in use once a year? No tunnel or bridge for access? Sorry, it’s for F1?  Ahhh, £27m is clearly a bargain then, and a very impressive boast amongst the right crowd...). I guess after then it’s fairly flat where it rejoins the original path and round Woodcote onto the straight, though even that is a mild incline.

After all this procrastination and debate I can personally boil my final conclusion down to one word.

Marbles.

 

Total votes: 6

It is telling that the only minor correction I can make on this otherwise outstanding post is a comment on a language which, as far as I know, Jinx does not speak, yet got incredibly close. "Het Engels" is Dutch for "The English language", rather than the English people. That would be "de Engelsen". And yes, that is unfortunately how the Dutch tend to refer to everyone from the United Kingdom, including the Scots, the Welsh, and the (Northern) Irish. 

Should you, as a British citizen not from England, find yourself in The Netherlands being asked if you are English, I suggest responding by asking if your Dutch interlocuter is German. Be prepared to duck. 

Thanks Jinx, for reading, for commenting, and for supporting the site. Hugely appreciated.

Total votes: 6

Actually, I genuinely appreciate any corrections on anything I have posted. The abillity of this site's readers to check their egos (and handbags) at the door is what makes this one of the very few places worth reading (and your writing makes it my first stop).

I appreciate the kind words.

PS - You need to work on your "churlish".  The blows need to land harder than a butterfly with sore feet. Cheers.

Total votes: 4

Uncini explains at length how difficult it would be to test Silverstone in the rain, but David does a little Googling and finds accounts of the very same problems MotoGP experienced. So it was knowable that the track had problems with standing water when it rains. Dorna just didn't think or bother to look, and seemingly won't in future.

Total votes: 3

Guys/Gals, i am of the mind that all three governing bodies (IRTA, DORNA and FIM) are all collectively responsible for track safety. If you read their various charters, all three play a role in ensuring track safety and in this case, and Philip Island, Indianapolis Motor Speedway and others, they have recently failed the riders, spectators and the sport. 

It is the governing bodies that determine what safety and facility upgrades are required at existing and prospective circuits in order to maintain or receive a contract to host a race and as such, they should be able to certify which completed upgrades meet quality assurance tests. If they are not sufficent, they need to identify the issue and ensure its proper completion. How many track upgrades are performed in a single year? Likely a managable number. Likely few enough to ensure projects are completed correctly.

There have been many recent failires in my opinion regarding resurfacing, track design upgrades, etc and in each time it was the venues that were pilloried after a project was not done to ridef specs of which affected the show. 

DORNA’s annual revenue is over $300M euro, likely much more than any circuit makes on a percentage basis for hosting a show. As the promotoer of this show, they and IRTA and the FIM call all the shots. They have sufficiently deep pockets to maintain necessary equipment and riders to dispatch to confirm known issues  

They, IMHO, should be responsible for ensuring that work done is performed to their requirements and then push down on local venues when it is not.

In the Silverstone scenario, Mike Webb makes good points that testing a facility in the wet would be exceptionally challenging but they were aware of track conditions regarding bumps from Lewis Hamilton after the F1 event in advance of the race and others are quoted as saying the track profile had changed from previous years. To this end, and as Dean Adams writes at Soup, could have flooded the worst offending corners ‘easily’ (subjective,yes). All state that Silverstone should be abke to handle a wer race given it is England. agreed. but Dorna should also then know which risk characteristics to be on the lookout for and in this case it was proper drainage. Ot should be tested for accordingly.

I am sure Dorna’s contracts are very onesided, but it seems negotiation around contractual liability is needed going forward.   

So, from my couch (!) the 3 bodies plus the circuit are jointly liable for failing everyone.  

What say you all?

 

Total votes: 10