APRIL 8, 1996
Bumping and grinding in BA
THERE were serious problems in Buenos Aires with bumps on the track, and many of the F1 drivers complained that the bumps - in the first corner and in the high-speed Ascari turn - were causing not only extreme discomfort but also unnecessary dangers.
The problems can be traced back to an FIA track inspection in January during which safety delegate Roland Bruynseraede suggested that changes were needed where certain bumps had caused drivers particular problems. The organizers accepted the changes without any opposition and the work was done.
Bruynseraede returned in March - three weeks before the race - to make sure that the necessary work had been completed and it was during this visit that he realized that there were other bumps which had not been noticed. The decision was taken - and agreed between the organizers and the FIA - that these bumps would not resurfaced but would be smoothed away with large grinding machines. The decision not to resurface was a logical one given the shortage of time and fears that resurfacing small areas would simply create new bumps or, worse still, the new surface would be torn up by the cars. This happened at Buenos Aires in 1980 and obviously there are some who remember the problems which this caused at the time.
When the drivers arrived in Buenos Aires they inspected the track and discovered that the bumps were very bad. This was confirmed in Friday practice after which there were a great many complaints about the bumps giving headaches and causing rib problems.
On Friday night the organizers ground off more of the surface at the areas in question - using optical equipment accurate to 1mm to try to ensure that the track was as flat as possible. This did not much improve the situation and so on Saturday night there was more grinding and this seemed to do the trick although the bumps were still fairly visible in the race.
The organizers have already agreed that they will undertake to resurface the sections in question, completing large sections of the circuit rather than small areas. This is the best way to ensure a flat circuit. There is no question that the race was not held in ideal circumstances, but we understand that the FIA Safety Delegate will be carrying out a detailed investigation into how the problem occurred to avoid a similar event in the future.
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