S since Formula 1 started in 1950 in Silverstone the premier class already on the road in 32 countries. This season number 33 will be added. Vietnam has secured a place on the F1 map with many millions of euros. The representatives of the capital Hanoi have concluded a multi-year deal with the rights holders. It is the first new race to be added to the calendar under the leadership of Liberty Media. A second follows with Zandvoort.
Those responsible in Hanoi see the race as a worthwhile investment for tourism marketing: “We can use it to show Hanoi's special combination of ancient and modern beauty and prove that we are organizing events of global importance, ”said City Councilor Nguyen Duc Chung.
Pit building on schedule
Not just the backdrop, but also the track itself should ensure that the race is a success. The Liberty experts, together with the local promoter and Herman Tilke's design office, designed a 5.607-kilometer street circuit with 23 bends, which will present the drivers with new challenges and guarantee spectacular racing.
The highlight is a 1 , 5 km straight. After Spa and Baku, it is the third longest full-throttle passage in the entire calendar. “At the end of this straight there are grandstands with 35,000 people sitting on them,” Tilke told us almost a year ago. 'That gives an atmosphere like in a football stadium.'
The construction work started at the beginning of 2019. A good two months before the premiere race, the organizers were able to announce the completion. The last 150-meter section that completed the course was on the home straight. Laboratories in Singapore and Germany are now investigating whether the laid asphalt meets the required standards. The rehearsals are already on their way.
People in Vietnam are particularly proud that the entire route and the buildings - including the 300 meter long pit building - were built using locally sourced materials. No building material had to be imported from outside. A special mixing plant for the concrete was installed on the construction site to guarantee the high quality of the material for the roadway.
Until the planned race, temporary facilities such as safety fences or grandstands have to be built. The organizers assume that everything will be ready on time. The schedule was ambitious. But Tilke was always relatively relaxed: “It's not the first time that we've done something like this. In Bahrain at that time we only had 14 months for a complete route. ”According to Tilke, it is a misconception that the construction of a street circuit is easier than the construction of a new permanent route on the green field. “You think it should be easier because the roads are already there. But that's not true. There are a lot more details to consider than with a completely new course. In the end, the effort for us is similar. ”
According to Tilke, almost a third of the route had to be rebuilt in Hanoi. “The rest of the way is on public roads that were already there. But they all had to be completely re-asphalted. They weren't originally planned for Formula 1, ”explained the civil engineer.
A bit of the Nürburgring in Vietnam
The drive is in the west of the city, near the My Dinh national stadium. In terms of layout, they tried to get away from the usual 90-degree bends that you get from other street circuitsknows. The designers were inspired by other routes for several passages.
The combination of turns 16 to 19 is reminiscent of the fast “Esses” in Suzuka, for example. In addition to high-speed sections, there are also some extremely slow corners and hairpins. During the tight change of direction in turns 1 and 2, the first sectors of the Nürburgring were used as a template.
'It won't be that easy for the drivers,' promises Tilke. However, the existing site in Hanoi does not allow for large differences in altitude, regrets the planner. 'We tried to bring in some profile by banking the curves.'
In addition to a 1.5-kilometer straight, on which the cars should reach top speeds of around 335 km /h there are two more longer full throttle pieces. “That means a challenge for the engineers. As in Baku, they have to choose a compromise on the wings. Because of the three straights, you can't afford to put the wings very steeply. This in turn means that there is a little more slipping in the curves. I think we can look forward to some action. ”
Pit lane trick for more tactical action
A special feature of the track in Hanoi is the pit lane. Anyone who turns to change tires shortens the last section and the first corner completely. “The pilots drive a whole combination of corners less. That saves a lot of time, ”explained Tilke. “That was a wish of the Formula 1 bosses. They wanted to keep the time lost in the pit lane as short as possible in order to generate more pit stops and give the teams more options with the strategy. ”
Tilke firmly believes that the event will come Success will. After his numerous on-site appointments, the 64-year-old has already become a Hanoi fan himself. “It's just a great city. One part is very exotic, another part is very modern. There are also old French colonial buildings that are very goodhave been restored. When it comes to restaurants, too, fans get everything from high-class to street food. Hanoi is definitely worth a visit. ”
Only the spread of the corona virus could still disturb the anticipation of the Formula 1 premiere in Vietnam. Hanoi is “only” 1,300 kilometers from Wuhan, the place where the disease broke out. Vietnam is currently trying with all its might to prevent the disease from spilling over the border from neighboring China. But because the corona virus is no longer only rampant in Asia, the efforts could ultimately be in vain. Some experts fear that the situation could worsen so much that the entire F1 circus is no longer allowed to travel around the world.