Start, Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez, 2016

Why gravel traps aren’t the easy answer to corner-cutting

2016 Mexican Grand Prix

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Formula One is a complicated sport. But in the matter of racing cars around a track one of the simplest rules should be that you’re not allowed to take a short cut.

Apparently not. Last weekend’s race demonstrated again the sport’s rule makers have turn even this straightforward point into an unfathomable mess.

Alexander Rossi, Manor, Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez, 2015
The run-off area at turn one in Mexico
The concept of gaining an advantage by leaving the track would have puzzled the first world champions. For them leaving the track meant a trip to the hospital, if they were lucky.

Over time the need to make F1 safer changed that. Gravel traps became a more frequent sight at circuits. These meant a driver ran wide they would only lose time instead of their lives. This was clearly progress.

More recently run-off areas filled with gravel (strictly speaking, aggregate) have been replaced by asphalt. The reasons for this are sound if not quite as obvious.

Run-off areas are designed with a realistic worst-case scenario in mind. Turn one at Mexico is approached at one of the highest speeds of the year, over 370kph for some drivers last weekend, making it crucial that an out-of-control car is be contained safely.

Whether a puncture, brake failure, suspension breakage, stuck throttle or collapsed wing, any of these individual faults could cause a serious accident at high speed. But in all of these cases a driver would retain some ability to decelerate the car.

Gravel has less grip than asphalt, so a driver cannot slow their car as effectively on it. Worse, a car travelling at high speed would be at risk of digging in and flipping, putting the driver at greater danger.

There are other reasons why gravel traps have become a less frequent sight at circuits. Stones get dragged onto the circuit causing punctures. The traps require maintenance – filling and raking – which can interrupt sessions and takes time and money. That cost is multiplied over however many days a year a circuit is in operation, not just the three days of a Formula One race weekend.

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Marcus Ericsson, Sauber, Hockenheimring, 2016
Hockenheim started a trend for vast asphalt run-offs
Other circuit users, such a motorbike racers, have different run-off needs to racing cars. Track days are a major source of business for circuits outside of race weekends, and amateur drivers would rather not damage their vehicles in a gravel trap.

But the introduction of asphalt run-offs has resulted in one significant disadvantage compared to gravel. It has allowed drivers to find as much grip beyond the boundaries of the circuit as they could within it.

This was not unprecedented in the days before purpose-built asphalt run-offs (think of Suzuka 1989). But it has been a growing problem since then.

The revised Hockenheimring was one of the first tracks to feature extensive asphalt run-offs. During the 2003 race Michael Schumacher controversially overtook Jarno Trulli by using one of them. He went unpunished, but suffered a puncture a few laps later.

In the 13 years since then F1 has largely failed to solve the problem of drivers using asphalt run-off areas to gain an advantage or (just as objectionably) avoiding any disadvantage for failing to stick to the track limits. There have been 14 investigations over this kind of infraction so far this season.

Sunday’s race was only the latest example. Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg cut turn one at the start and Max Verstappen did the same later in the race when scrapping with Vettel. Of those only Verstappen was penalised, though at least two of Hamilton’s rivals raised concerns over his driving.

Esteban Ocon, Manor, Singapore, 2016
An arrow signifies a rejoin point in Singapore
In each case it was up to the stewards to decide whether an advantage had been gained and had to be returned. But as other circuits have demonstrated it is possible to design run-off areas in such a way that drivers are forcibly disadvantage for running wide.

At other circuits slow corners feature ‘return routes’ which drivers must pass through if they run wide, forcing them to lose time. Examples include the Rettiflio and Della Roggia at Monza, the final chicane at Circuit Gilles Villeneuve and turns one to three in Singapore.

If a driver goes off and fails to use the return route, they get a penalty. This is both fair and, importantly, makes it immediately obvious to everyone that drivers cannot gain an advantage by cutting a corner. And Mexico’s turn one is far from the only place on the F1 calendar which could benefit from having one.

2016 Mexican Grand Prix

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Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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  • 133 comments on “Why gravel traps aren’t the easy answer to corner-cutting”

    1. I don’t understand why they can’t just make the throttle disable for 5 seconds as soon as 4 wheels go over the white line? This would cause the drivers to try to stay on track when possible, but if they do stray they won’t be out of the race completely and we get to see them fight to regain the lost places.
      If someone shoves a driver off which causes the driver to lose 5 seconds of throttle that could be dealt with by the stewards in the usual manner.

      1. I would imagine they don’t want crashes like this being caused by the regulations.

        1. @keithcollantine Also, the use of the throttle is important to be able to balance a car in a slide. If you’re running wide, the last thing you want is the throttle to cut, upset the balance of the car, and cause a spin. You don’t even have to be sliding for this to occur.

          1. Maybe cutting revs would be more appropriate, if you went out the white line for 2 secs then your car will cut revs for 4 secs just enough to restrict the car from reaching its max power but still able to control it safely.

            1. Maybe cutting revs would be more appropriate

              A few problems with this:
              1) Revs are dependent on speed and gear ratio. If the car is doing Xmph in Nth gear, it will be doing Y RPM. You cannot “cut revs” without changing gear.
              2) Assuming you know this, you may be talking about lowering the rev limit. The problem here is that a rev limit is pretty universally done by cutting fuel and/or spark. If the car is doing more than the rev limit, this is the equivalent of cutting the throttle. This brings about the same problem as above with regard to the car balance.
              3) Even without this, the cars currently operate well below the rev limit. IIRC Cars are allowed to rev to 15k, but rarely exceed about 11k.

              An option may be to cut the fuel flow limit, hence restricting power, or even to jam the wastegate open and cut power to the ERS-H.

          2. the use of the throttle is important to be able to balance a car in a slide. If you’re running wide, the last thing you want is the throttle to cut, upset the balance of the car, and cause a spin.

            Fair enough. In that case a light comes on in the cockpit to warn that track limits have been exceeded. At some point in the next lap the driver has to press a button that cuts his throttle for 5 seconds. It’s up to him to do it in a safe place. If he doesn’t press the button he incurs a drive-through penalty.

            1. It’s important to register if cars leave the track partially or completely. In the first case one could consider a penalty be imposed after 5 occurances. In the second case a driver could be required to pass through some kind of busstop path, added to the circuit near the slowest corner in order to keep re-entry safe, within the next 3 laps and effectively loose 3 seconds… failing to do so would result in a drive through. A driver could indeed be signaled to do so with a warning light.

            2. Partial track leaving registrations cannot be done consistently unless a sensor for the GPS is fitted to each wheel (at present there are two on the car – one for standard regulatory and timekeeping purposes in the centreline of the survival cell and another in the accident data recorder for events relating to crashes). That could be done, but then you’d have to ensure 100% reliability of the cabling through the wheel areas. Certainly possible, but also at risk of failing at the worst possible times. Still, a thing to consider doing.

          3. @vmaxmuffin

            Just disable the electric engine for x amount of time. The cars are a computer nowdays so just limit the throttle for x amount of time is no problem whatsoever.

            The worst case crashes are when brakes, steering, suspension etc. dont work so i dont see why asphalt would be the better option to slow anything down with.

          4. You don’t need to cut the throttle completely and instantly. Just reduce it to say 50% when the car comes back on the track. The difficult thing is to decide how the time is decided. A general rule of 5s throttle cut doesn’t really cut it because the system is not supposed to penalize the driver but simply make sure driver can not gain time or positions by going off track.

        2. never noticed this about that crash before but at 1:55 into that linked video, is that the tyre that cannons off up in the air?! if so, thats very, very scary.

        3. Or this one:

          Car slowing down to allow the opponent they bumped off the track, gets in the way of position 3 and causes a pileup.

      2. …as soon as 4 wheels go over the white line?

        I think your concept is correct, but there is a simpler way: make it an automatic 5 second penalty unless the stewards are given a reason not to apply it. For example, Hamilton braked later than he should have, went off the track, and if the rule was for him to have an automatic 5 second penalty, then that would have happened at the next pit stop.
        Martin Brundle is reported by Sky Sports as saying he believes there should be the equivalent of a penalty box or “sin bin” that a driver has to drive through at pit lane speed if they break the rules, and the time taken to go through adds about 5 seconds to their race time.

        1. Never heard the sin bin concept before, but that’s an excellent idea. There is hence clearly no chance of it ever happening, and Mr. Brundle should feel ashamed of himself for presenting such a logical and rational idea.

          1. :-)))) What’s the abbreviation for a quiet chuckle?

            1. Cynics unite !…..we have nothing to lose but our credibility…..!

        2. Yes, exactly. Going four wheels off track should be an absolute penalty with no human judgement about whether advantage was gained. Assume advantage was always gained, which is generally true, or else the driver wouldn’t have done it.

          I’m not in favor of any electronic throttle cuts. I also think it would work with no exceptions. If a driver is pushed off, well, the one pushing him off can be penalized also. But there should be a clear disincentive for everyone to avoid it and not rely on the appearance of being pushed.

          The human judgement would come into play in deciding whether to penalize someone for pushing another one off.

          An exception could be when some corners have those twisty bits off track designed to make the driver rejoin slowly. That could be considered equilvalent to the penalty.

          1. OK; It may seem extreme, but my solution is simple. If one assumes that in the old days a car leaving the track was going to have a BIG accident, if a car today has all 4 wheels off the track FOR ANY REASON” they are give a black flag and excluded from further participation. If they don’t withdraw from the track within three laps they are excluded from the next race as is the car. Under this scenario, MB would have scored NO points in Mexico. Harsh? Yes. Bet the cars would stay on track though…

            1. Yeah, this would be a true virtual wall. I think it could also be acceptable, but it might be considered harmful to spectators to remove cars altogether from the race they paid to see. Also, if going off track was a black flag, then the penalty for pushing a driver off would need to be commensurate (i.e. also a black flag). The stewards would have a huge influence and massive points swings could be in the balance. But maybe it’s not too bad: it might feel more like the old days and we’d have more different race winners.

              So I’d probably go for the 5 second time penalty (unless detour route is taken) plan.

      3. I think the question should be: Did he jump or was he pushed. If you get forced wide and therefore outside the track limits, then it hardly seems fair to cut the guys throttle as you suggest because you are actually punishing the wrong driver. In todays modern world of electronic gizmo’s a virtual wall is easy. If a driver breaks the beam, the steward can immediately look at it and use the criteria of “did he jump or was he pushed” and then deliver the correct punishment immediately. Just a thought.

        1. The system you are suggesting is a lot of work. There are probably hundreds of corner cuts in every gp. And most of them are not important. For example a car driving alone goes little too deep into braking zone and goes little off. Loses little bit of time, a tire flatspotted and tires dirty. Or has a harmless half spin or just sudden oversteer moment and drifts off the track but can continue with no time gained but still triggering the system. Those happen all the time and don’t really warrant any attention from anybody.

          After the bizarre rulings in last 3 races or so I’d be really cautious giving the stewards any more power. Their decisions have been so utterly odd at times that a fully automated system would be better. But that would have its caveats too.

          Because for fully automated system it is impossible to take it into account whether a driver went off the track because he was pushed, was avoiding an accident or just maybe was avoiding debris or something. So it would still need human oversight for those very important grey cases where it is not clear who did what. So the automated system doesn’t even solve the problem we wanted it for. The biggest decisions are still made by the stewards using their random bs of the week rationalizations. The t1 incident with hamilton in last race might have been a clear cut case but rosberg’s and verstappens incident behind them would have needed steward’s aid.

          But the scary thing is when you have automated system where the stewards can override any decision it might still mean the stewards intervene just because they personally disagree with the computer’s decision. Would the stewards have intervened if hamilton had be given a slowdown by the computer? Probably. It is the late season so stewards are looking at ever possible excuse to not penalize any championship contenders.

          So an automated system doesn’t really fix the most important corner cuts. It sounds like nice idea on paper but in reality it has some caveats which make it far less effective than it looks on the surface. And that is just about detecting the corner cut. How to give out penalties is another thing too.

          1. It would work if it’s not designed to have exceptions. Treat the track limit as a virtual barrier which inflicts an automatic penalty for crossing it (too far), regardless of why it happened. Brake too late? Too bad, don’t do that next time.

      4. Like they do in videogames? At least in the codemasters’ recent attempts at F1 games.

      5. This whole rev/power cutting concept with automatic detection is so wrong and unrealistic… for the reasons posted above.

      6. Just plant corn on the sides of the track and be done with it:

        1. @watertank hahaha Great idea!

    2. Great article @keithcollantine, I appreciate these opinion pieces that are very informative and apt.

    3. If they really think the turn 1 run-off area in Mexico is a problem then for next year’s edition of the Mexican GP they should apply the ‘bollard detour’ thing they use in Singapore, Sochi, and Montreal, for example.

      1. Isn’t that essentially what Keith has written about, Jerejj? The bollards demarcate an approved (and slower) return route.

    4. I agree that having rejoin routes like the one in Russia is the best short term solution. It can seem unfair if you only go off very slightly but only as bad as having a wall at the edge.

      It annoys me when drivers lock up and instead of getting tyre damage they just release the brakes and go across the run off, it’s getting to the point where the edge of the track has become a target not a limit.

      Ultimately though, looking at a track purely for F1 I would prefer more gravel traps or a really abrasive surface so that going off track causes some damage.

      1. I can see what you mean there @glynh It annoys me when drivers lock up and instead of getting tyre damage they just release the brakes and go across the run off, but from a safety standpoint it certainly is the preferred option.
        But as Keith writes, it needs a way to make sure that not only does a driver not gain an advantage (as is often the case now) a driver should actually be disadvantaged by missing his braking point and having to take the evasive route.

      2. I agree that having rejoin routes like the one in Russia is the best short term solution.

        ‘Short term’ is definitely a good choice of phrase. Thinking longer term it would be nice if they could design tracks which lessen the chance for this sort of problem in the first place. I really don’t understand what purpose turns two and three in Mexico serve other than to make it easier for drivers to gain time in the run-off area.

        At least in Mexico they have the excuse that they have a limited amount of space to work with in renovating an old track. But a problem like turn two/three at Sochi, a brand new facility, is completely inexcusable.

        or a really abrasive surface so that going off track causes some damage

        They tried that when they re-did Paul Ricard in 1999. My understanding from speaking to drivers who’ve raced there is it doesn’t really work, particularly not in places where drivers regularly run wide which, of course, is where it’s needed most. That appears to have been borne out by the fact that over a decade and a half later no other track is using that type of run-off, and plenty have been built since then.

        1. @keithcollantine you could also avoid putting tarmac on the exit of corners. Where do they most need to slow down after getting it wrong? right in the direction of the straight preceding the corner in question.

          If you see what they’ve done with Parabolica in Monza, you see that not only they improved the run off with tarmac coming into the corner, but they also added a strip of tarmac alongside the corner, all the way to the main straight.

          That’s completely unnecesary and doesn’t do anything. Cars don’t go off there because of a problem, they go off to gain time on the run off.

          In Mexico, they have a tiny bit of tarmac up until the apex on turn 2. Why?

          1. @fer-no65

            you could also avoid putting tarmac on the exit of corners. Where do they most need to slow down after getting it wrong? right in the direction of the straight preceding the corner in question.

            Good point. That Schumacher case from 2003 is a good example of this.

            1. Also have a look at how Alonso has overtaken Massa and Sainz in the last USA GP, carrying out maximum speed off slow corners with extremely wide line, and all four wheels out of track, just before opening the DRS (no penalty as well).
              Watching Mexican FP2 on TV I’ve noticed that, due to poor grip, drivers have fully tested all the possible escape lines, so, when it was race time, they perfectly knew where a potential error would have costed more or less time, so they also knew where to take risks or not.
              I agree with you that track design itself should prevent drivers to get short cuts and extra wide lines outside the limits. Plus, forced and slower route to get back into the main track should work to avoid cutting corners, while putting a grass strip just outside the external kerbs, and right before the wider tarmac way out (for safety) should work to avoid extra wide lines.
              F1 is already filled with too many rules and putting more penalties subject to human judgement would create even more problems. Electronic solutions would limit the ability of drivers to fully and safely control the car in case of danger, so they will make even more troublesome, and they are also boring/stupid from fans perspective.
              So, once track design is fixed, taking in count all the possible unfair advantages, drivers’ job will be just to drive the fastest within it.
              Very interesting article and comments!!!

      3. Using the run-off at Sochi gained Hamilton 3 places at this years race. He late-braked around the outside of everyone – avoiding the turn-one Vettel / Kvyat bingle. When he came back on to the track he was immediately on the racing line directly ahead of them so he lifted to let Vettel pass, which crowded Vettel – who was also slowing behind the damaged Force India – into the path of Kvyat.
        Sochi is a poor example of how to cater for first-corner run-off.

    5. You can’t practically have one in Mexico at the moment, as the run-off is grass, so drivers can only really go in a straight line or they risk losing control completely. In all three cases the drivers had the cars pointing in the desired direction before entering the grass.

      1. Going from memory but couldn’t you have a tarmac path around the outside that you have to turn left to go on to.

      2. As @glynh writes, i think they could make a path through it, over it and onto a bypass that runs on the outside

      3. surely they could dig the grass up and tarmac over it?

    6. Bernie’s water sprinklers, no track alterations needed as F1 can take them for each F1 weekend and we’ll see how many drivers want to run over the grass when it’s wet.

      1. Actually that’s not a bad idea. When there’s a race on a drying track drivers avoid the kerbs so if you made the kerbs wet drivers who crossed them would risk spinning but there would still be safe dry run off.

      2. @alec-glen @glynh Problem with that is that it increases the risk of drivers spinning & if its only the kurb that is wet you risk drivers spinning back across the track infront of other cars (Think Vettel at Hungary in 2014) which has its own risks.

        Also what if a driver ends up on the kerb though no fault of his own, Say he gets squeezed onto it while trying to pass another car. If he’s going to lose time or maybe spin on a wet kern he’s going to be far less likely to try a risky overtake where he may end up with even 2 wheels on the kerb.

        Any deterrent has to be safe & having wet kerbs, grass or runoff wouldn’t be safe not just for a driver running wide but also drivers coming up behind if he should spin back onto the track.

    7. F1 is a high tech sport so I think high tech system is an answer. Install sensors in corners that detect crossing the line, then if the car goes over it limit car’s engine power output for 5 seconds or better yet, disable MGU-K and MGU-H for a few seconds. That would be enough to make drivers think twice about leaving the track ;)

      1. I thought the same. Leave the track and you get no Boost for the remainder of the lap or a lap

      2. And if the driver is forced off the track, you wind up punishing the wrong driver. And then you will have some major arguments when your preferred driver/team is disadvantaged. I think that you are correct with your high tech sensors but I think it need a low tech system to interpret the information. ie a panel of permanent stewards.

        1. And if the driver is forced off the track, you wind up punishing the wrong driver. And then you will have some major arguments when your preferred driver/team is disadvantaged

          If driver is forced off track he is slowed by gravel trap, grass or kerb it just the same. And forcing driver off track is completly different matter. It is stewards’ job to punish drivers that push others off track. Exact numbers are up for debate. It could even be progressive – like if you went all the way then 10 second if just tiny bit 2 seconds. But the numers doesnt matter right now it is just a fantasy :P
          The main beauty of automatic system would be total elimination this current problem which is lack of consistency. This would work every time. Driver left the track? Needs to be slowed down, it doesnt matter why he did it.

          1. ^^^ Yes, this. It’s not necessary to avoid punishing “innocents”; bad luck happens. Consistency is more important.

    8. I personally don’t know what is wrong with grass. It is a deterrent and a penalty for those that go over it, but it doesn’t truncate a race with safety cars because of beached cars, or pose the threat of a car rolling through the air. Even artificial grass does the job – the Spoon-Curve is a model corner in terms of the balance between deterrence and safety. In fact Suzuka’s use of grass more broadly make it a weekend where tracks limits are happily not up for discussion.

      F1 could also be more intelligent in terms of kerb technology. The insistence for wide, flat kerbs makes no sense if a kerb is defined as some attempt to distinguish the racetrack from the run-off. Equally that doesn’t mean we want drivers backing off for fear of some suspension-cracking monstrosity on the exit, like in Spielberg. I think positively cambered kerbs, like that on the exit of Malmedy or the Degners, best preserves the challenge and character of the corner whilst deterring drivers from over-stepping the mark.

      1. Grass can be unsafe when wet (slippery) and I understand that the upkeep of grass is a major worry (cost) for tracks @william-brierty. I think I read that tracks like Spa, Hockenheim and Silverstone looked at wider kerbing to keep cars from constantly ploughing up the grass around corners.

        1. @bascb Kerbs and white-lines too are a no-go when wet, but the difference between wet grass and wet gravel is that the car won’t get stuck on its likely journey to the barriers. Track extremities are typically avoided for that reason in the wet so it doesn’t make much difference what it is intervening a skating car’s trip to session retirement.

          In terms of cost, the circuits that can best afford grass are the ones most in need: Yas Marina, Bahrain, Sochi, etc.

      2. @william-brierty

        I personally don’t know what is wrong with grass. It is a deterrent and a penalty for those that go over it

        Not for Hamilton on Sunday it wasn’t.

        1. It depends. At Interlagos, going into the grass would be no walk in the park. Maybe they need to make the grass much higher once you go far enough from the track, like on a golf course.

          1. Tommy Scragend
            2nd November 2016, 16:59

            That would be good. Remember Silverstone back in the 70s when the grass was nearly as high as the cars. In the 1973 British GP Jackie Stewart went off when battling with Ronnie Peterson and he almost needed a combine harvester instead of an F1 car. Raymond Baxter’s memorable comment was “Now he’s really in the agricultural business” :-)

          2. Zantkiller (@)
            2nd November 2016, 17:42

            But that is because at Interlagos there is only 1 corner which you can properly cut, the senna ‘s’. That is now all AstroTurf. The layout of the circuit does not lend itself to corner cutting.

            I don’t know why they have that chicane but if they did want a chicane they should have copied Bahrain’s first corner which doesn’t really allow you to cut the second corner and personally I feel is much better for overtaking.

        2. Absolutely right Kieth. Lew went across the grass like a rat up a drainpipe.

          1. Do you really think any other driver would have voluntarily pulled over and let a few cars go past? Ric and Hulk would have done the exact same just like any other driver.
            Its a natural reflex to react to a mistake by minimising the outcome.

            Think about when some one trips over in public, then quickly brushes themselves off and tries to walk off like nothing happened.

            Any driver who goes off track reacts the same, straighten the car up and get back on it. Then think about what you should do then. In this case Hamilton backed off to let the chasing pack catch up, Rosburg was pushed off, and Verstappen decided to carry on like nothing happened, though questioned then told to hold position by his team.

            What you never see is a driver go off track, and immediately pull over as some sort of self imposed punishment.

        3. @keithcollantine Yes but you will admit that was something of an exceptional scenario and why it wasn’t investigated bemuses me.

          The more endemic challenge of track limits concerns balancing a deterrent from track limit abuses (for laptime purposes) against the need for safety and circuit character. I think the circuits that make best use of grass – such as Suzuka, Zandvoort and Sepang – are most successful at achieving this balance.

        4. The grass is laid so that if you go straight there is no real slowdown as it cut the corner.

          I would ask for partial gravel/sand traps so that going straight is through it but only the last part so you have mostly tarmac for the mistake/overshoots drivers can correct themself. This is a easy and cheap solution to apply.

          virtual gravel traps is not what racers want as it suddenly the car doesn’t react as they expect it.

      3. @william-brierty I quite agree with that. The main problem is bad track layout, you are referring to one of the finest circuit layout in the world. Suzuka is remarkable in many aspects, also for its ability to discourage run offs. On the contrary Sotchi’s turn 2 is ridiculous; not sure grass would help there and it’s a slow corner so a reasonably elevated kerb would probably not work well. I don’t see any satisfying answer other than changing the layout of that portion of the track.

        1. @spoutnik But the successes of grass and higher kerbs are not just limited to classic layouts. Track limits scarcely get a mention during weekends at Sepang and Shanghai, with the circuits’ varied use of artificial grass, serrated kerbs and cambered kerbs proving effective. I agree many of Tilke’s creations ask for track limits abuses, but grass could certainly be of use in some cases. At Sochi the problem is it is not a permanent racetrack, and because it is quite literally a car park most of the year, introducing grass or gravel is not really on the cards. However the need for a car park style run-off at Copse or Parabolica bemuses me. I fear it is all done in the conflicted name of safety, where for some reason it is fine for cars to hurtle through 130R at 190mph close to a strip of artificial grass on the exit, but for some reason this is not suitable for Copse or the penultimate turn in Austria.

      4. Michael Brown (@)
        2nd November 2016, 19:06

        Positively cambered kerbs do a good job of keeping cars from extending the exit of the corner. However, what is the worst case scenario involving them? Is it possible for a car to be sent into the air, or lose control and spin across the track?

    9. Stuart Becktell
      2nd November 2016, 12:52

      Whats good about turn 1 here is that if a driver has brake failure, there is a long asphalt runoff for drivers to go. The biggest problem with gravel traps is when someone enters sideways, like Alonso in Australia. Some sort of bollard like has been talked about is all we need. If you go inside of it for turn 2, you need to fully stop the car in a safe spot and get it moving again. Simple, easy and a much bigger penalty than what either Hamilton or Verstappen got.

    10. The problem with doing a route to rejoin type chicane down at turn 1 in Mexico is that the runoff route you take to rejoin at turn 3 isn’t actually tarmac it’s grass & given how you have less control over the car on grass (Especially in the wet) its likely that slowing down enough to navigate any chicane would be next to impossible.

      1. I think it would brobably need some redesign of areas of tracks to allow this.

      2. Stuart Becktell
        2nd November 2016, 14:26

        Thats why you put tarmac for the access road.

    11. In my opinion, the whole turn 1-2-3 complex needs to be changed in Mexico in order to get more close racing.
      The first corner itself is fine, but therafter there is a very slow chicane where any advantage of a better exit for the following car is erased. The slow chicane, with only one possible line, causes the car in front to pull away again and we see very few overtakes in the next straight.

      If they just remodel that slow chicane into a fast and flowing chicane or maybe a only a small kink, then the racing will be much better in Mexico and the whole problem of cutting the first corner is gone because the racing track is a faster route than the runoff.

      1. @Julien You have just hit the nail squarely on the head. Tracks should be designed in such a manner that it should be faster staying on the track than going off it. Good post.

      2. @jlracing ^ THIS ^

        A very poorly designed complex that inhibits racing…albeit it might not be the worst complex on the circuit! It is a shame that such an excellently promoted race is built around such a cumbersome and inhibiting layout.

      3. Well done! That’s exactly right. A well designed track will create its own penalty for leaving the black stuff. Mexico’s T2 and 3 are a poor design that should be fixed.

    12. Or the stewards could just give the drivers a stop-and-go penalty to be enforced on the next lap. They’d have to stand still for as long as they were off the track. None of this “lasting advantage” nonsense. You go off for 7 seconds? You stay still for 7 seconds in the pits. Prove you’re the elite drivers you say you are.

      1. The problem with that is that the time lost entering and leaving the pits would also need to be included.

    13. I think Brundle really has the best idea I’ve ever heard in that article in the round up today. You leave the track without losing time or track position; you go through a short penalty road at the pit lane limit. Simple, fair, unarguable, and can be anywhere on the track not requiring too much configuration on multiple corners.

      Glad you pointed out so clearly the pitfalls of gravel that a lot of people keep asking for…

      1. Or how about simply a 2 or 3 second time penalty automatically instilled when we see such a lone off-track excursion? LH kept DR behind in Monaco by cutting the chicane. Where in Monaco would one put a ‘penalty road’? Rather he (any leader) should have had to complete the racing knowing he would have to push to ensure at least a 2 or 3 second gap to the next place car or lose a spot in the race standings.

      2. you go through a short penalty road at the pit lane limit

        It’s not a bad idea but my concern is it still requires the stewards to intervene and decide whether a driver has surrendered enough of an advantage. The advantage of forcing them to surrender time then and there in the corner by taking a rejoin route is that the penalty is immediate.

        Wouldn’t we all like to see a bit less of drivers running wide and then waiting to see if they’ll be penalised?

        1. Stuart Becktell
          2nd November 2016, 14:27

          We would but the FIA doesn’t seem to care. They act like a child whose only interested in something for a few races then stop it.

        2. My only issue with that is it can’t be applied to small chicane cutting. But maybe that’s when Bernie’s walls come in to play, not sure…

          and then waiting to see if they’ll be penalised?

          That’s entirely on the stewards, not the rules, there’ll always be penalties that need to be adjudicated in any sport. It should be cut and dry, I think something is really going wrong with their process. Brundle says they have a stupid amount of information available to them immediately to judge these scenario’s.

          There’s no reason it can’t be a matter of if you go off track, a blinking light on your dash indicates you’re under investigation, then then it goes solid or disappears quite quickly depending on the result. Maybe even give the driver a one option to appeal during the race (like in cricket) where the stewards take a more solid look at their decision. That’d be pretty entertaining.

          1. “But maybe that’s when Bernie’s walls come in to play”

   don’t know if you caught this btw… (@1 minute…)

        3. @ Kieth. I do believe that we will always need a panel of stewards as the automatic penalties that you are advocating leaves too much room for errors and therefore unfair punishments being metered out. If you are forced off the track, how is it fair to be disadvantaged for that. Hence, it need some logic to interpret the situation and arrive at the best possible solution. What we need is information fed to the stewards in such a fashion that they can make the correct judgement very quickly – not two hours later.

          1. What we need is information fed to the stewards in such a fashion that they can make the correct judgement very quickly – not two hours later.

            They already have that by all accounts, they’re just not acting on it.

        4. The problem with using escape routes (apart from them not being possible in the majority of corners) is that it does nothing for the increasing tendency among some drivers to try risky moves in the belief that the other driver will pay for it. If being pushed off means going down an escape route, then some of the drivers can and will take advantage, and hope the stewards decide not to penalise them – because in that instance the advantage they gain from racing in a dirty manner is greater than they would have obtained from a clean pass, even if the latter was achievable.

          I’ve already seen this sort of thing creep into the thinking of a couple of drivers over the last half-season, and increasing the use of instant-penalty items won’t help until this is addressed. I get the impression the stewardship of the regulations is the elephant in the paddock here, and until that’s fixed, nothing proposed here will help. Sadly.

    14. It’s the way they floor it when they overcook the corner, that I find the most insulting. Totally shamelessly looking to get any advantage out of their own mistake, which should produce a serious disadvantage, not advantage.

      1. I don’t blame them for that. It’s better for them to back off on track to “give back” any advantage (which Lewis did), than it is to lose a position. I would do exactly the same.

    15. I’m all for more of the detours. However it doesn’t stop T2 at Sochi being diabolical. However it is not a feasible solution for some areas such as Copse or T1 at Hockenheim. But ultimately it’s the best solution I’ve seen to at least part of the problem.

      I think kerbs are also part of the problem. Anthony Davidson has suggested that each venue has its own detachable kerbs which can easily be put in or removed depending on the type of vehicle racing that weekend.

      1. @craig-o Agreed: Policing fast corners on existing circuits where the run-off space is limited is a more difficult problem than what we’re talking about here.

    16. In the cutting edge of motorsport I think we could find a technical solution – e.g. sensors on certain turns that feedback to the car to cut power for 5 seconds when all 4 wheels cross the white line.

      I remember there was a mode in Grand Tourismo where you would lose power for a few seconds after touching the barrier – very frustrating!

      1. At Sam A And if you are pushed into the barriers, then how is a loss of power fair? What about the driver that pushed you into the barrier?

    17. If for logistics reasons they can’t do anything more penalizing about the runoff at T1 in Mexico for example, be it for space reasons or for the other types of racing at the venue, I think there should simply be a 2 or 3 second time penalty subtracted from their finishing position for any driver that goes off on his own (like LH and MV) vs. with someone’s help (like NR).

      There has to be some sort of consequence for overcooking a corner, no? I thought the same thing, and am glad Brundle has now referred to it, of LH keeping DR behind him in Monaco by cutting the chicane. I don’t think giving a spot to someone who never had the spot to begin with is the answer, but why not a 2 or 3 second penalty automatically and unquestionably for all who are driving and watching, so that there is at least some cost to leading another car(s) in spite of a mistake? Where’s the pressure of holding a lead over someone if it is completely forgiven to make a mistake under said pressure? That said, I don’t believe any driver would get away with repeated off-track excursions though, just because he got away with it once.

    18. Put down the red and blue abbresive stuff around the corner like they do at Paul Ricard. Drivers will go offline once, 2nd time the tires are gone completely

    19. The other point of the bollard return routes is to ensure that cars return to the track at a safer point rather than just spearing back potentially into the racing line.

      Personally I think there’s one really simple way to sort it out – if you leave a track, you get a time penalty. Only exception is if you’re forced off by another driver. That is, putting all four wheels beyond the white line at the edge of the track. None of this nonsense about whether or not you gained an advantage. Same as they apply it in tennis, football, plenty of other sports. If it’s over the line, it’s out.

      1. Agreed. Have said the same in a few places above.

        1. Indeed. And the beauty is that the whole regulatory framework is already in place – the sporting regs already stipulate that cars must remain on the track at all times. All they need to do is enforce the rules properly.

      2. if you leave a track, you get a time penalty. Only exception is if you’re forced off by another driver. That is, putting all four wheels beyond the white line at the edge of the track. None of this nonsense about whether or not you gained an advantage. Same as they apply it in tennis, football, plenty of other sports. If it’s over the line, it’s out.

        I have to agree. There are many tracks, now, where we consistently see drivers leaving the track. These are professional racing drivers. They want to finish in the highest possible position, and have great control of their cars. If they consistently leave the track, it means 2 things:
        1) They are doing it on purpose, and
        2) They gain an advantage by doing so (over not doing so).

        I’m not sure I would agree that a time penalty would be the best bet, but some sort of penalty should apply. I, personally, favour a technical solution (cut engine power if you go off, for example), as this does less to interrupt the flow of the race. However, I wouldn’t object to something along the lines of 1s time penalty every time you put all 4 wheels off the track, served as current time penalties. In this case, they should be added immediately and automatically, but able to be reversed by the stewards (for example if the car was forced off track, or if they obviously suffered more than that, like spinning and having to rejoin behind other cars).

      3. You would think it is that simple, wouldn’t you @mazdachris, @robbie. And still we end up with discussions about “gaining a significant and lasting advantage, exactly how many cm out of the track boundary a car can go with its complete width, Kerbing being slippery/unpleasant to drive over (when in reality they are ALL outside the track limit), astroturf not holing when cars rumble over it every lap, tyre issues when drivers blatantly ignore the trakc limits etc!

        I do think that it would get a bit annoying to see drivers constantly penalised (it would blink values from between 1-10 seconds or many a driver all the time :-) ), off course only until drivers would start to adapt (I think they would within a session) or until the likes of Sky, with Brundle and Crofty and Ted moaning every session, starts lambasting the constant penalties and the FIA pulls back.

        That is why I think a solution like Keith proposes could be an elegant solution – it could also work in club racing, or really any on track activities, where the technology is not there to do it the F1 way.

      4. This is how it works in club racing. An observer at a marshal’s post will phone it in to race control who pass it along to the clerks, who (after three repeat offences, I believe) instructs the startline marshal to show a driving standards flag (also known as the ‘who, me?’ flag). One more offence incurs a time penalty. If the driver doesn’t like it he can see the stewards of the meeting.

        The difference here is that it isn’t televised live to millions. Most (but not all) spectators turn up to watch fast cars racing round, overtaking and having the occasional accident. They clap the drivers on their parade lap, but don’t know their names. And they don’t all have access to live timing data (although it is available). The actual result isn’t all that important, so the chap who finished third on the road being demoted to fourth in the official results doesn’t matter to them. It does in F1, WEC, FormulaE, ELMS, IMSA etc.

    20. To be honest al the items mentioned are in my opinion a reason to actually put down gravel traps. Less grip on gravel?? great you should not be there anyway. If you don’t want the risk break earlier !
      No gravel trap because motor racing also take place there?? Rubbish motogp runs at tracks where there are gravel traps.

      But i have a good solution for keeping the racing between the white lines, not just at corners where a unfair advantage can be gotten. Go over the white line with 2 wheels. 50Hp for 20 seconds less. 4 wheels over the white lines 100 Hp less for 30 seconds. This automatically applied and team must prove it works and is applied.

      1. Your comment seems to indicate a total lack of racing experience – nothing wrong with that but you do need to appreciate that circuits survive on other series racing.

        Now imagine this – you have invested around £200k in a race outfit, paid £500 or so for an entry, maybe another £5000 to manage the weekend and on lap one turn one, it’s all completely down the drain and the whole trip and event is over because, say the track temp changed and a slight issue left you sitting in a gravel trap. Or worse you were bike racing, or long circuit kart racing and ended up with a wrecked outfit and some broken bones. Some sport! Won’t be doing that for long.

        Just because a few disgruntled types do not like to see a guy they do not like start first, scoot across grass (like that’s a really grippy easy surface to navigate) and remain first. Who them immediately slows. Gains no lasting advantage as per the rules particularly after the safety car and does not hand his first place over to his team mate just like his team mate did not in Canada with a nice run across a chicane that got him out of DRS and thus safe. I mean how ridiculously biased can some of you get? That of course is all forgotten by the hysterical Rosberg/Verstappen fans screaming because the out of control kid gets a penalty that’s long overdue.

        How long do you think any circuit would survive? Then you won’t have F1 anywhere other than the places with the run offs!

        The reality is not gravel, penalties, regulations and screaming – it’s circuit design at the foremost and a less grippy asphalt where run offs are required. If there is no advantage, less grip, a few bumps then that is enough to discourage or penalise.

        This screaming for race ending outer borders is frankly tiring and truly childish.

        Obviously none of the gravel fans saw Rossi blast through a gravel trap to win a race last year…

        1. When someone goes racing they run the risk they will damage something, if they can’t handle that they should not go racing. And racing happens between the white lines and not outside as we have been seeing more and more in the last 10-15 years. Nothing that was tried stopped it, gravel traps do so is a good solutions.

          BTW Hysterically screaming about Ros/Ves fans in blind hate doesn’t make someone a Ros/Ves fan.

    21. has it always been a gravel trap? i vaguely remember sand being used, though i can imagine this being unsuitable in the wet and probably just as much of a pain to maintain as gravel/grass.

    22. Cars rolling in gravel is surprisingly rare, particularly with single seaters where the CofG is very low. Having said that, I’ve seen a saloon car launched from a grass hillock into a gravel trap sideways and not roll, whilst another at similar speeds on the flat rolled five times and hit the barrier. A car traveling in a straight line will slow quicker on asphalt than gravel, but sideways I’d say it’s either equal or better with gravel. I’ve seen Caterhams go into gravel head on at Donington’s Old Hairpin and nearly reach the tyre barrier, but sideways they barely leave the track. But again, not consistently.

      Thinking about what we actually like about gravel is that a car leaving the track must rejoin slowly. Grass is probably fine for the edges (we all saw Alonso’s moment after being squeezed by Sainz) and is even more effective in slow corners, where downforce can’t help. Three metres of grass followed by a tarmac run off, governed by a power limiter, might do the trick. It could be made incremental too, so that the further from the grass one strays, the lower the limit, and the greater the punishment. Closer to the track (think Copse at Silverstone) would be a little hiccup, equivalent to the kind of lift you’d expect to sort out a moment, thus reducing the risk of being rear-ended. But whatever the solution, it must be the track that punishes, so human error from officials can’t creep in.

      Last thing on gravel: try running through it. Better yet, try pushing a car twenty metres through it in three layers of clothing and steel-toed boots. Marshals no likey.

    23. Gravel traps is what one requests because he is stuck in the past, there’s plenty of alternative modern technology available to make it work AND keep the several acres of run-off.

    24. Monza used to use sand as run-off area- which proved to be so effective, even getting the car out of the sand trap was apparently difficult.

    25. I don’t see why it should be gravel, why not some other sort of texture that slows you down, foam traps, sticky carpet, a maze of foam or simply gravel ‘canals’. It’s 2016, the FIA has shown to be ‘creative’ with the regulations this year, at least try something.

      1. All those things you’ve described would share the same disadvantage of gravel in that they would require some kind of maintenance. Once a car has gone off into these substances they would change shape and have to be restored or replenished in order to work again. That’s not the case with asphalt. (Regarding ‘sticky carpet’, see the reply regarding Paul Ricard earlier where something similar to that was tried).

    26. This is fine but I think Keith you didn’t address the difference in rules and considerations relevant to starts, and that issue seems to be very material here, where the only one of the 3 subject drivers penalized didn’t go off on the start. My sense is that driver behavior generally is less strictly policed at starts, e.g., the swerving, lining up at an angle, or with two wheels outside the box. That would seem to explain the results here well enough.

    27. We have virtual safety cars. Why not virtual gravel traps?
      You take a shortcut, for whatever reason, and you have an automatic 10 seconds penalty.
      Real gravel traps don’t care why you got stuck in there. Neither should the virtual ones.
      You prevent physical damage to pilots and spectators, but you raise the stakes on driving errors.

      1. Why not virtual gravel traps?

        I like the name “virtual gravel trap” but, thinking about it, it could be exactly like the VSC: Drivers are given the earliest time they are allowed to re-enter the track, and this is triggered by a sensor on the car picking up a signal from the virtual gravel trap.

        Scenario being, then, you leave the track, sensor detects the VGT, dashboard shows a countdown, and you cannot come back on to the track before it reaches zero. If you do, you are penalised. Times can be different per VGT, to account for different advantages gained. Applies whether you are forced off, go off voluntarily, or make a mistake, just as a gravel trap would. It would be simple and effective.

        1. I like this idea too but there could be problems with safely reentering in traffic. Martin Brundle’s idea of a specialized pit lane penalty might be safer.

          1. there could be problems with safely reentering in traffic

            No more so than reentering the track at any other time. In fact, it should be safer, as the driver has more time to see what’s coming. If they choose to reenter the track unsafely, they should be penalised for that separately (and harshly).

      2. Why not combine the idea of the virtual gravel trap and the Brundle solution? As soon as someone goes off track, sensors go off and the driver will have to drive through some kind of naughty lane at the next pass.

        Technically that should be perfectly possible and should actually not be that massively expensive to execute. E.g. a wire under the track limit lines and some extra sensors on the cars. No need to redesign and/or adjust tracks.

        On the safety side of things, circuits could be made as safe as can be without having to make any compromises.

        Stewards would not have to be involved. Going off track into the VGT means automatically a penalty, even if a driver gets into the VGT for reasons beyond his control. With a real gravel trap he runs the risk of getting beached or crash, at least now he has a chance to continue the race. And in case of an incident whereby another driver is involved, then the culprit would be under investigation anyway.

        And come to think of it, there would be less SC’s and VSC’s, yet enough dynamics to keep the racing interesting (hopefully). Imagine Hamilton and Rosberg in Mexico having to drive down the naughtly lane on L2. That would have triggered quite some additional events. Verstappen would probably get a penalty of some sort for punting off Rosberg in T1, all three drivers would end up somewhere mid pack at best, tyre strategies get thrown out of the window nd all of a sudden we have a race that lasts longer then the first few laps.

    28. Gavin Campbell
      2nd November 2016, 16:25

      What really annoys me is tarmac on the exit of corners like the hairpin at Canada. Why if your going 30/40/50 mph do they feel the need for tarmac. Doubly so at a circuit that is only used for F1 (and push bike races / triathalon). At Mexico why the outside of the actual turn is tarmac – IE from the apex onwards (Yes there needs to be a tarmac run off for failures and Maldando esque mis judgments of corner entry speed) but you have stopped the car significantly to be on the correct angle to hit a lot of that run off. You can’t go steaming into a corner and turn the car 70 degrees.

      The thing is the drivers now just full throttle it everywhere – it ruins races where you push as small mistakes that previously would loose 4/5/6/7/8 seconds or a DNF are now a 1/2 second loss. They all get instantly up to speed because there’s little or no penalty for running wide at the corners – no car damage or end of the session.

    29. I agree. Asphalt is an easy fix. But no driver should go off at any part of the track and be penalized. The only part of the track that should contain any asphalt run off is the first corner or first sequence of corners. You mentioned that gravel traps allow loose gravel to get on the track and that takes time and money to clean up. That is a good point. However some circuits have about 7-10 feet of asphalt, then a gravel trap or grass. That is a good idea- or maybe they should just use flat level grass as run off. I am out of ideas, honestly.

    30. Thanks clarifying several of the issues with the gravel traps, Keith. Another reason for not using gravel traps IMO, is that they unfairly penalize a driver that has been forced wide into one via another driver’s poor driving or mechanical failure. Ex. A driver overcooks into a turn and another driver has to take evasive action an go off the track to avoid a collision can wind up beached in the gravel and out of the race, though no fault of his own. Doesn’t seem fair to me.

      Although I’m not always in favor of high tech solution to problematic driver behavior, I admit I’m intrigued by the idea of sensors being used to detect off track moves. with automatic time penalties. I like Martin Brundle’s idea of a time penalty route through the pit lane of something along those lines that would be served immediately during the race.

    31. Michael Brown (@)
      2nd November 2016, 19:12

      Regarding turn 1 in Mexico, it is the way it is because if the turn was pushed back to line up with turn 3, there would not be sufficient runoff area for turn 1. I wouldn’t change the position of turn 1, but I would change turns 2 and 3 to make them much faster (like Les Combes). The way turns 2 and 3 are right now is like the last chicane in Catalunya; it serves to separate the cars to make overtaking more difficult on the following straight.

    32. Easy: build a (tyre) wall somewhere on the grass, close to the area entering turn 3, if you follow HAM or VES path off-track. So, everything remains the same, just a wall appears more that won’t allow those who cut the track to rejoin the track so easy. They’ll have to go around the wall before rejoining the track (at the same turn 3). The wall will be far enough not to cause any problems if a driver has problems at high speed in the braking zone, everything else remains the same. Just build the wall so it’s sure they’ll have to go around enough so they won’t gain anything at all.

    33. Why not have a pit-lane drive-through every x number of times four wheels go off the track?

    34. I can imagine the LH PR machine eruption going “BOOM” with dummies everywhere if Lewis had been handed any kind of penalty for the off track excursion at the weekend. That would have been the Mother of all conspiracy theories against his championship battle. Haha

    35. I think the idea of virtual gravel should be given serious consideration, but I don’t like the idea of a 10 second go slow or a naughty lane. F1 is supposed to be the pinnacle of technology in motor racing so, instead of a go slow or naughty lane, why not significantly limit traction, electronically, e.g. max throttle is capped at, say, 20% until the car rejoins the track? If you go outside the white line, it slows you down. A lot. Paint the white line so that kerbs are within it – negotiating kerbs is a skill which I still want to see, especially if it rains.

      I’m not suggesting that the technology should ‘look’ for the white line, i.e. not using cameras or anything like that, as that would be too slow/prone to error. Instead of that, there should be an electronic map of the circuit and the car would ‘know’ where it was at any instant. Clearly, this would need to be very fast acting – to the fraction of a second. Lap times are to the millisecond so perhaps that would be the target to aim for. Maybe pit lane speed limits could be enforced with the same sort of technology.

      – Drivers get penalised automatically for going off track
      – However, entering a virtual gravel trap would not be ‘race ending’ like real gravel can be, so ‘the show’ wouldn’t suffer from cars/drivers dropping out
      – Drivers who keep to the track through skill/effort are rewarded because they are no longer competing against drivers who gain an advantage through cheating, bending the rules too far or being less able to keep consistently within track limits
      – Drivers still have as much braking traction as they do on the track (safety)
      – On screen graphics could show when cars are being slowed due to track limits
      – The technology could be implemented/sponsored by a tech/electronics firm to showcase their abilities

      Possible Disadvantages
      – Drivers who get nerfed off the track by another driver would be disadvantaged, whilst the offending driver may stay on track and gain an advantage. However, we already have this situation (where the nerfed-off driver may be delayed getting back on track) and if it happened the offending driver could still be penalised by the stewards
      – Drivers would be limited in their ability to get out of the way of other cars which are heading off track. This would definitely need more thought

      1. The problem with a situation like that is that its fundamentally unsafe in several ways.

        Firstly if a car goes slightly off & triggers the system with another car right behind him that stays within the limits (But there is still some overlap with the car ahead) the car behind won’t have time to react to the car infront been suddenly slowed & there is a risk of him just running into him.

        Additionally an F1 car suddenly losing acceleration will see a significant balance shift that could actually result in a driver losing control if it happens suddenly at higher speeds.

        There is also the risk of the system failing in some way & the slow down system kicking in while a car is still on track which obviously has dangers.

        That last part is actually a big part of why nobody wants to implement an automatic speed system for yellow flags, Those kinds of systems that run of sensors, timing loops & GPS can fail and/or malfunction & cause the speed reduction to kick in when it shouldn’t or even to not kick in on some cars when it should which would be equally as dangerous.

    36. Alteration to the circuit for next year: install a couple of speed humps beyond the exit of T1, then build a narrow service road around the outside that must be used by cars that miss T 1 & 2 – similar to the Della Roggia chicane at Monza. It will be slow and costly to those who miss T1 and self-regulates without the two weeks of argument that we have to endure about why did this one get a penalty but not that one.

    37. It must be reiterated.. and speaking of this Mexico debacle specifically. All of the talk about time penalties are not exaxtly relevant to avoiding the first corner potential carnage.. that advantage is beyond all question of lasting advantage .. taking away seconds on track or later in a pitstop or after the race or giving back a single position.. all of these are unrelated to avoiding any possible collision and dashing hopes of winning a championship or securing it… Driver error forced or unforced must severely be punished , especially at the start!

    38. What about Sharktanks in the run-off-areas? That will certainly discourage to run wide.

    39. Keep the asphalt for safety but Why not put largish corrugated curbs near the re-entry point to the circuit. Speed would already be scrubbed off but cars would have to slow down to avoid damage. These could be put far enough away so as not to affect cars on the racing line.

    40. Maybe have a mandatory drive-through penalty for cutting corners unless one was shoved off the track. Apply that penalty equally from the start of the race to the end.

    41. The main problem, which has existed for years, is that the rules in F1 are not uniformed and applied in a uniformed way. Hamilton and Verstappen both outbraked themselves into turn one, they both gained an advantage, and they both deserved to be punished. Rosberg was forced off the circuit, this was a more debatable situation.
      Back at Spa in 2008 the sport discussed these type of incidents following the Hamilton vs Raikkonen battle that, in my opinion, was one of the best finales to a race this century. What upset most at that time, as in Mexico, was the time it took for the stewards to make their decision. More consistent rules, more consistent decisions and penalties, and scrap the ‘investigate after the race’ policy which is an utter embarrassment.

    42. The drivers are supposed to stay on the track and in the past gravel traps were more common because they worked, they are a deterrent from driving off the track. Replacing the gravel with large areas of asphalt has made racing more safe but they do not punish the driver for driving off the track, so the driver has to back off or risk being given a penalty via a stewards enquiry. This can lead to farcical situations like we saw in Mexico when Verstappen was penalised for cutting turn 2 and staying ahead of Vettel but Hamilton wasn’t penalised for cutting turn 2 earlier in the race because apparently the data showed he backed off and Rosberg wasn’t penalised because Verstappen was deemed to have forced him off the track. How much should you back off if you go off the track on your own? Do you back off if pushed off the track? It is not clear because it is down to the opinions of the stewards and this simply isn’t fair because it is not consistent.

      In my opinion, the best thing to do is for any driver who cuts a corner to be given an automatic drive-through penalty, regardless of the reason for why they cut the corner and regardless of whether they gained or lost time as a result of cutting the corner. This way would be more fair than a stewards enquiry, there will be no confusion for a committee deciding whether said driver has gained any advantage and what penalty should apply, it will be the same rule for everyone.

      1. I don’t get it why ROS-VES incident is still mentioned. That was more like a racing incident and ROS barely went off-track. His right wheels were almost touching the white line that marks the track limits. While with HAM and VES… well, that’s the problematic case!

    43. Maybe gravel isn’t such a good idea after all. But I’ll always have a soft spot for that little Shanghai gravel trap. And its lack of nearby cranes.

    44. I have always thought, that is silly to penalize a driver at the end of a race. With the actual rules, a driver at fault stays on the track impeding other drivers and causing mayhem – as was the case – and gets his penalty after all is done, grinning a grin… In my opinion, the 5 second penalty should apply immediatly by reducing the progress of the driver at fault in the next DRS enabled straight to the appropriate speed…

      1. Unfortunately that would not work, as there is no guarantee of if or when a driver next gets DRS, nor how much of it they can use (thanks to some fairly complex rules about the functioning of DRS and variable DRS zone lengths).

    45. Formula 1 is a sport with great knowledge, technology and science, its teams can develop high end technology and always push it forward.
      I can’t understand how these brilliant minds don’t know how to solve very simple things as corner cutting or cars’ recovery. for these brilliant minds is no problem to develop a F1 car, but can’t think straight and solve these issues? there is something wrong with this. I wonder if they really want to solve the problem or if they want the sport to be full of speculation and gossip as football, and have things discussed more and more in the media to make the sport more popular, as it has been less and less attractive lately. – by the way, this is another thing very strange, F1 seems to have loss its essence of competition.

      so I state 3 problems of F1 today, make me feel very upset with the sport:

      1) cars’ recovery after a crash (to avoid accidents such as Jules Bianchi in 2014): It is very simple: they are using the wrong recovery machines! They should use cranes that have greater reach, Europe has a lot of companies with top technology cranes, they should park these cranes behind the walls and pick the cars on the other side. very simple. also when recovering a car, always SC should be in the track (not VSC).

      2) corner cutting: also very simple: do like Monza and Russia do: asphalt off the track and a certain path that must be followed, which is longer and slower than the track itself. if driver don’t do that, he is punished, end of story.

      3) lack of overtaking: also very simple: braking is too fast in F1. this don’t give room to overtake. 2017 cars will be even faster around a corner, with the braking capacity today they’ll have even less overtaking. write down what I’m saying if you expect a lot of overtakes in 2017. if you can come from 300 to 120 in 50 meters you have less space to overtake. brakes should be performance limited.

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