Formula 1 track rehabilitated with Wirtgen Group machines

Three vogele pavers pave a formula 1 track
The Raidillon uphill sweeping Formula 1 corner, with a 20 per cent gradient, is one of the major challenges for the paving operation.

Wirtgen Group machines have helped rebuild the Formula 1 Circuit de Spa-Francorchamps racetrack in Belgium.

The rehabilitation of the Formula 1 racetrack posed distinct challenges, as the track has been in existence for more than a century and includes everyday roads.

Dromo Circuit Design delivered the project. The company’s CEO Jarno Zaffelli emphasized the difficulty of the rehabilitation task due to the undulating nature of the circuit.

“For years, we have been working with contractors who use Wirtgen Group machinery. We know the machines very well and are familiar with what they deliver in terms of quality and reliability,” explains Zaffelli.

The Formula 1 track includes extreme sections featuring gradients of 20 per cent, such as the legendary combination of the Eau Rouge and Raidillon corners. The hairpin bend known as “La Source” is also often saturated with spring water.  To ensure driver safety on the Circuit de Spa-Francorchamps, extremely stringent conditions in terms of evenness and grip were applied to the asphalt surface course.

Belgian contractor Bodarwé was hired to complete the asphalt paving for the Formula 1 racetrack. While the variations in level around the winding track present a challenge to Formula 1 drivers, the paving team faced similar difficulties.

Non-stop paving

Aerial shot of the new T8Moto and T9Moto motorcycle race corners on the historic Spa-Francorchamps circuit.

The project was to pave a new surface course on a section extending to 505 metres from the Eau Rouge valley up to the famous Formula 1 corner at Raidillon.

Another 206-metre section was to be paved in the T9Car Formula 1 corner to the north, as well as 701 metres for the new T8Moto and T9Moto motorcycle race corners.

Paving had to proceed non-stop, at a rate of between 3 and 4 metres per minute. The temperature of the asphalt material was set at 180 C to maintain a sufficiently large compaction window. A further requirement was for the temperature of the paved surface course to be monitored and documented continuously.

Code name: Le Noir

The Benninghoven TBA 4000 plant.

The composition of the material plays a key role in the quality of a Formula 1 track surface. The formula, in this case code-named “Le Noir,” was developed by Dromo for Spa-Francorchamps in accordance with the regulations of the Fédération Internationale de l’Automobile (FIA). This formula is a well-kept secret.

The material was mixed in a Benninghoven TBA 4000 asphalt mixing plant belonging to Bordarwé.

Paving the Formula 1 track

Once the surface course in the relevant sections had been removed by a Wirtgen W 220i cold milling machine complete with Level Pro Active milling depth regulator and 3D controller, three Vögele Super 1800-3i machines were deployed. The task was to pave three 4.1 to 4.3 metre strips without joints using the tried-and-tested hot-to-hot method.

The three pavers were each equipped with an AB 500 TV Extending Screed and a Big MultiPlex Ski to ensure maximum longitudinal evenness. Three multi-cell sonic sensors were fitted to the variable carriers of the Big MultiPlex Ski, each scanning the binder course/the adjacent surface course and ensuring precision paving.

Complete control

The three pavers were equipped with WITOS Paving Docu incorporating the RoadScan temperature measurement system to monitor and record paving temperature.

The system recorded not only asphalt temperature, but also the other paving parameters, including geometry, surface area, distance and volumes of asphalt paved.

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“WITOS Paving Docu is ideal for monitoring temperature directly on-site; this is where we need the information, so that we can counteract any deviation immediately,” said Bodarwé’s Construction Manager Sébastien Dandrifosse.

Machines and people worked together to ensure the highest standards on the legendary racetrack in Belgium’s Ardennes mountains.

The demands of the project were intense, but operators used the machinery and technology to overcome every challenge they faced.

The Formula 1 racetrack design team was also impressed by the support provided by the Wirtgen Group.

“The backup from their technical team was very good and extremely important. It is very reassuring to have experts like that by your side when running a paving operation that can’t easily be repeated,” Zaffelli said.