Fear factor missing in F1 as Sainz calls for the return of gravel
Carlos Sainz believes Formula 1 lacks a fear factor and has called for the return of gravel and grass run-offs.
Despite acknowledging safety must always be F1's primary concern, McLaren driver Sainz lamented the swathes of asphalt run-off that have replaced gravel and grass equivalents over the past two decades.
“The feeling of risk and risk-reward is not good enough in these modern circuits," said the McLaren driver.
"Even though safety is primary, I still think there is a compromise to be found with tarmac run-off areas."
Referring to the changes specifically made to Spa-Francorchamps, Sainz added: "Although the combination of sector two and Eau Rouge and everything is incredible, I think there is still work to do to try and make more of a penalty for the drivers when you run wide.
“Just having the tarmac there, it just gets the fear out of you of pushing too much - turn 10, the exit of 13."
While Sainz may be keen on a return to the more old-school track safety measures, there are legitimate reasons for the stretches of Tarmac in modern F1.
With gravel, it is easy for a car to dig in and roll, turning a relatively minor incident into a far larger one.
On the contrary, a gravel trap has the ability to catch a car and severely punish a driver for running wide.
There are pros and cons to the use of grass, too, with the primary negative to this solution being wet conditions as the surface offers zero grip, rendering it unable to slow down a car on its way to a wall or barrier.
As intimated by the Spaniard, even Spa is not exempt from the changes made necessary by the FIA to host current F1
Pouhon is the prime example as a once large, punishing gravel trap was replaced by a soulless tarmac run-off, offering little to fear for a driver into the almost flat-out left-hander, with track limits now needing to be enforced as drivers take previously unimaginable liberties.
Sainz concluded: “I miss gravel, I miss grass and it’s something that we have talked about with the FIA to see how we can at least create that feeling for the drivers to make sure we feel a bit more risk-reward when going into a fast corner.”
Been saying this for years! If there's no penalty to running wide, the racing is not challenging. If you want to keep them safe, disqualify any driver that runs wide into a corner, that's it!
Its basic that FIA make definitive rules, but then add a margin of error.
The rules say the edge of the track is marked by a 100mm white line.
Yet the F1 cars are allowed to not just cross that line but also any 'warning kerb', often another ~1m !!
Generally safety culture in FIA in antiquated. Wait until several accidents then select and arbitrarily test a mitigation for the immediate cause.
Major Hazard/High Risk industry and most legislation have systematic schemes of managing safety, including Risk Assessment. Even the Jules Bianchi Accident Panel recommended a Risk Assessment of the interaction of risk mitigation measures. Never seen the output!!
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