Formula 1 race director Michael Masi believes there is nothing wrong with the ‘drag strip’ section of the Hockenheimring, despite scathing criticism from the likes of Charles Leclerc and Nico Hulkenberg following the German Grand Prix.
The last two corners of the track proved extremely problematic on the day, as a flurry of drivers found themselves drifting over the slick surface and into the barriers. As well as Leclerc and Hulkenberg, Lewis Hamilton, Carlos Sainz, Lando Norris and Kimi Raikkonen all lost control around that area.
Leclerc would go on to describe it as “unacceptable”, while Hulkenberg called it “insanse”, but the FIA believe there is nothing out of the ordinary with the section.
"The drag strip looks fine," said Masi.
“We inspected it the other day and had a look again post race with the water on it. It is fine.
"Even Sebastian [Vettel] is quoted as saying that it is normally one of the grippiest parts of the track and it is no different to any of the other painted run-off, to be quite honest.
"I think it was one of those ones where if put water on painted run-off then, as much as you can do anything to make sure it is anti slip paint, it is still more slippery than unpainted tarmac."
Masi has compared the section to a similar one at the Red Bull Ring in Austria, and says the drivers had no problem with that particular track.
"They may claim it is too dangerous but from our end, using the Austrian example, the drivers were all quite pleased with it, even with the bumps and that," the racing director continued.
"It punishes them for making mistakes and it was a similar way here. We saw the other implementation we had to do regarding Turn 1 with the track limits side.
"You are balancing it to a degree, but credit where it is due, all 20 drivers have been very consistent in their views that if they run off track there should be a consequences from doing it.
"Maybe straight after a race they may have a different view about the way it has affected them, but sitting down individually with them and as a group that has been consistent in their view and that hasn't changed."
As a former racer that has had personal experience with drag racing launch pads (Seattle International Raceway in its old configuration) we all knew that as we came on to the front main straight to avoid the drag strip, especially when wet. There were many cars, karts, and a motorcycle or two over the years that went into the concrete barrier on the opposite side of the track after contact by a rear wheel. I would suggest that Michael Masi drive any vehicle onto that area of the track when it is wet and they say his comments about it being safe. That surface is like ice offering NO GRIP of any kind. To the owners of any racetrack that combine drag racing with a road course, please be sure that the launch pad is never located to any part of the road course. Hockenheim could easily move that launch pad up to the beginning of the corner with no loss spectator excitement during drag racing.
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