NOVEMBER 10, 2006
A mess in Beijing
This weekend's A1 GP street race in Beijing has run into trouble because the A1 cars cannot get round the hairpin. The circuit runs down a section of dual-carriageway into the hairpin and then goes back using the other carriageway. The problem was that there is not enough turning space for the cars. When practice began Team Germany's Nico Hulkenberg was the first man to try. He soon ran out of road on the exit, despite making a very cautious approach. The session was abandoned as others cars came to a standstill behind him. Two further attempts to start the practice session resulted in the same problem and the organisers concluded that the track will probably have to widened overnight.
That is not impossible but much work will be required. The problem is not helped by the fact that there is a grandstand close to the track at the exit of the corner. This means that any reprofiling would have to be done on the other side of the hairpin. The option exists to cut out the entire section but this would create problems with the pitlane entry and make the circuit very short and not very challenging. It would also wipe out one grandstand seats in which have presumably been sold to spectators.
The circuit has never been used before and was chosen by the Chinese because the Goldenport circuit that was listed on the A1 calendar last year was ruled to be too small for the A1 cars. The long term aim is to use the roads in the Olympic Park area for a circuit but that will only happen after the Games takes place in 2008. The current venue is at the Jingkai Convention and Exhibition Centre in Beijing's Economic and Technological Development Zone of Yi Zhuang, in the south-east of the city. The circuit was designed by the Shanghai Municipal Planning Design Institute and approved by the FIA and is 1.9-miles in length. The event is supported by the Beijing government but is the city's first major international motorsports event.
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