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LICENCE T O THRILL
LICENCE T O THRILL THRILLS ARE AMONG THE MOST POWERFUL EMOTIONS HUMANS CAN EXPERIENCE. BUT WHILE THE PAYOFF MIGHT BE QUICK AND UNEXPECTED, THERE IS A SURPRISING AMOUNT OF DELIBERA- TION BEHIND THE CREATION OF THRILLING MOMENTS. WE MEET THREE INDIVIDUALS WHO ENGINEER SUCH MOMENTS, AND LEARN HOW DECADES OF EXPERIENCE AND PAINSTAKING PLANNING ENABLE THEM TO CRAFT UNIQUE JOURNEYS OF ADRENALINE AND SURPRISE STORY: Geoff Poulton PHOTOGRAPHY: Roderick Aichinger 58 THEJAGUAR
HERMANN TILKE F1 CIRCUIT DESIGNER When Hermann Tilke was 18, he borrowed his mother’s car. But it wasn’t to visit a friend or go to the cinema. “I put a roll cage inside it and went hill racing,” he says. “She wasn’t too happy when she found out!” It was a humble beginning for a man who has gone on to become one of motorsport’s most influential figures. Tilke might not have made it to the very top as a driver – “I was a good amateur, but not pro level” – but he is the undoubted king of racetrack design, with more than 75 circuits to his name. Almost every track on the current Formula One calendar has been built or modified by the German and his team at Tilke Engineers & Architects. “With a little input from Bernie Ecclestone,” he adds with a smile. That Tilke has managed to combine a passion for motorsport with his love of design and construction is pure coincidence, he says. After studying, he worked as a civil engineer: “A good job, but I didn’t have enough free time to go racing.” So Tilke quit and set up his own engineering consultancy. “I had contacts at the Nürburgring and they offered me my first contract – a 20-meter service road. Who would have thought it would end up like this?” he says, glancing around his office at 3D-printed racetrack models and photos of circuits from Texas to Malaysia. First stop on any new project is a site inspection to assess factors like topography, climate and soil quality. When Tilke and his team of designers, engineers and architects begin sketching, it’s never a blank canvas, though; geographical restrictions and safety regulations shape their work. “I like elevation. When a corner goes over a hill, it behaves completely differently than to flat. It’s much more difficult to drive at high speed. But we have to work with what we have.” With a brief that often includes a concept for the entire surrounding infrastructure, from grandstands to restaurants, Tilke’s aim is to create a grand sporting arena. From initial designs to first race, the process typically takes around three years. “The track should maximize the challenges for drivers and thrill spectators,” he says. Turn eight at Tilke’s Istanbul Park track, for example, is considered to be one of the most exhilarating ever built, a triple-apex taken flat out at 170 mph for eight seconds; turn one at his Circuit of the Americas has seen spectacular overtaking since its introduction in 2012. But he also has his critics. Certain F1 pundits and fans have labeled his tracks boring, with mistakes left unpunished by generous run-off areas. “This isn’t the 1960s,” he retorts. “Safety regulations are much stricter. You can’t have barriers next to the road. And these circuits aren’t just for Formula One – what about the motorbike riders? What’s safe for a car isn’t necessarily safe for them.” Evolution is important, he insists. “Look at Formula E – it sounds different, but so what? Ultimately, racing is racing. It doesn’t matter what it is, you just have to be as fast as possible.” Tilke himself still raced competitively until just a decade ago, including a 24-hour race at the Nürburgring. Now 63, his own appetite for speed may have lessened a little, but his son Carsten, also a partner in the business, has picked up the baton. “We drove together in a four-hour race in Moscow once; he was faster than me. Watching him race is more thrilling than anything else.” THEJAGUAR 59
JAGUAR MAGAZINE celebrates creativity in all its forms, with exclusive features that inspire sensory excitement, from seductive design to cutting-edge technology.
The latest issue features a range of inspiring people: from Luke Jennings, creator of Villanelle, one of the most interesting television characters in recent times, to Marcus Du Sautoy, who ponders whether artificial intelligence is on the brink of becoming creative. Out on the road, we visit the US to explore the foodie heaven of Portland in a Jaguar I-PACE, take a Jaguar XE to the south of France to get a photographer’s viewpoint of the charming town of Arles, and much more.