If you haven’t heard of Geobrugg, there is a lot to discover. The Swiss company is the global leader in the supply of safety nets and meshes made of high-tensile steel wire. Many years of experience and intensive collaboration with universities and research institutes have made Geobrugg a reliable partner when it comes to protection and safety solutions. Obviously, this company would probably not be featured in PADDOCK if it hadn’t been involved in the business of motorsports for some time. The expertise gathered over 60 years of research and development has led Geobrugg to advances in the fields of security engineering, including the areas of motorsports fencing. We have Jochen Braunwarth, Head of Business Development International, to tell us all there is to know about the work his company does for Formula 1.
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The iron curtain of racing
From Lake of Constance to the Black Sea: we delivered high-strength FIA Debris Fences for the new Formula 1 racetrack in the Olympic town of Sochi. By the end of June, 40 truckloads of material left production facilities at Lake Constance for Sochi to arrive in time for the Russian Grand Prix. The solutions from our Swiss specialists for safety meshes enjoy an excellent reputation in motorsports and have proven their superiority on racetracks so far.
Formula 1 is considered to be the king of motorsports, and we sincerely believe that. To be a part of the construction of a racetrack of this class is both appealing and challenging at the same. A brand-new, roughly six kilometer long racetrack is integrated into the Olympic Park and our fences are being used to safeguard it. We have done a series of tests of different safety fences together with the FIA Institute. The result is that this particular fence offers higher protection than the conventional ones. This probably was the main reason why the city on the coast of the Black Sea chose us.
A special feature in Sochi is that the racetrack is designed as a temporary circuit. That is why a newly-developed mobile safety fence is being used in addition to stationary fences. The mobile fence is designed for fast installation and removal to allow the city streets to be quickly converted into a safe race circuit. As with all Geobrugg products, both systems employ the high tensile ROMBO mesh. All this makes for a finely tuned system consisting of supports, foundations and fence geometries for audience protection.
Improvements in the business sector
We believe that by establishing binding safety standards for race circuit construction the business relationship between race circuits and a Motorsport Fencing supplier like us would be on more solid ground. Currently, the FIA provides a guideline that circuit operators must meet, but there is a huge deviation between the suppliers. Some Debris Fences are tested and use high-class products while others are made in the backyard with welded meshes that do not work, and both of these products are believed to have the same effect. We propose establishing performance criteria for safety products that are used along the circuit. If a product doesn’t offer the maximum level of both safety and effectiveness, it simply shouldn’t be in a professional racing circuit.
We can all already see a trend from purpose-build motorsport circuits to more street circuits as we have in Monaco, Singapore, Melbourne, and now the new one in Baku. The idea is to bring the race to the spectators instead of having the spectators to travel to the race, and this idea seems very progressive. Whether it is a good trend or not, street circuits do have limited layout options and are difficult to install, not to mention that you need a long time to do it properly.
Thankfully, our global network with branches and partners in over 50 countries ensures fast, thorough and cost-effective solutions for harsh requirements, so that makes every technical process much easier. With production facilities on four continents and more than 350 employees worldwide, we try to combine short delivery times with local support for clients. Our secret? Well, I think it’s our role, or should I say, roles – we’re partners, consultants, developers, project managers and business friends for our customers.