Halo and Aeroscreen

Safer cars means more “extreme” tracks – Wurz

F1 Fanatic Round-up

Posted on

| Written by

In the round-up: F1 tracks can be more punishing if cars are made safer, GPDA director Alexander Wurz argues.


Max Verstappen, Red Bull, Zandvoort, 2016
Max Verstappen, Red Bull, Zandvoort, 2016

Max Verstappen entertained fans at his home track Zandvoort yesterday. He will be driving again today.

Social media

Notable posts from Twitter, Instagram and more:

Comment of the day

Sebastian Vettel, Ferrari, Circuit de Catalunya, 2016
Are things really so bad for Ferrari?
A considered assessment of Ferrari’s situation from Duc:

What’s worrying for Ferrari isn’t where they are now, but where they will be in the near future. At the moment, I think they’re still ahead of the Red Bulls on the overall track.

In Spain, Raikkonen was closing the gap to Verstappen lap after lap even when he is so close behind and suffer from a reduced downforce. We have seen that it can be super hard to follow in Barcelona, even with the best car (if my memory serves me well Rosberg complained about Lewis backing him to Vettel’s Ferrari last year at Spain). The fact that Raikkonen was able to follow so closely highlighted the superiority of the red cars. When all cars were in free-air, the Ferraris easily outpaced the Red Bulls. If it wasn’t for Red Bull’s great traction out of the last corner, Ferrari would have won that grand prix by a distance.

Monaco was always going to be Red Bull’s heaven, and it’s not because of the engine upgrade. At the first part of the race Verstappen was overtaking people like a maniac. Overtaking in Monaco is a big deal, especially in such a damp condition. At the same race where Vettel on the imtermediates was stuck behind Massa (say what you want about Ferrari, they are quite visibly superior to the Williams in Monaco) and Ricciardo stuck behind Lewis despite being faster all weekend, it just shows how amazing that Red Bull chassis is.

On a regular race track or one that depends heavily on the engine, I believe the Ferraris will continue to be ahead of the Red Bulls. We haven’t seen the true performance of those upgraded Renault engines yet, because again Monaco isn’t really suitable for comparison, but I have a feeling they’re still behind the Mercedes and Ferrari engines on pace.

But, what’s worrying for Ferrari is their under-performance in Q3. Sometimes they lose time in Q3 compared to Q2, which is really troubling because in Q2 top cars don’t really push to the limit to conserve the tyres for the race. If they continue to flunk in qualifying, they will have to rely on track overtaking and superior strategies, which isn’t available at all tracks (like Monaco).

Furthermore, Ferrari has six engine development tokens yet to use this season, Renault has 21. That is a huge deal. Admittedly, sometimes six tokens used efficiently are better then 21 tokens of wasted development, but Ferrari has to watch their backs now. Let’s just hope that the performance is there for Ferrari in Q3, and somehow another engine upgrade or such can extract it out, because they are in serious pressure.

The upside: James Allison is coming back to work.
Duc Pham (@Ducpham2708)

There’s still time to join in this weekend’s Caption Competition here:

Happy birthday!

Happy birthday to Ratboy and Davef1!

If you want a birthday shout-out tell us when yours is via the contact form or adding to the list here.

On this day in F1

The first world championship made his final F1 race start today in 1955. Giuseppe Farina bowed out on the podium for Ferrari at Spa-Francorchamps after the Mercedes of Juan Manuel Fangio and Stirling Moss led all the way.

Author information

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...

Got a potential story, tip or enquiry? Find out more about RaceFans and contact us here.

Posted on Categories F1 Fanatic round-upTags

Promoted content from around the web | Become a RaceFans Supporter to hide this ad and others

  • 36 comments on “Safer cars means more “extreme” tracks – Wurz”

    1. I have watched F1 religiously since the conclusion to the 2010 season when there was a 3 or 4 way fight in Abu Dhabi. I have come to love F1 history through the 70’s up until the current hybrid era.
      Call me an idiot if you want but this sport has a sense of danger to it that it should not lose and putting these halos on these cars will ruin any sense of that and will kill the open single seater era… And for what? Because Bianchi hit a safety crane? Because guys die in Indycar on oval tracks? I thought the hybrid era was going to slowly kill F1 but it’s in all honesty a symbol of the current times. The sport is constantly changing with the years and who knows where it’s going to be in 10 years but this halo shield type deal will take a part of history and thrill away they will never get back. SCRAP THIS IDEA.

      1. Relax, there will still be some scope for them to maim, kill or just injure themselves.

    2. Following on from the COTD, wanted to ask how many tokens mercedes has left for engine development?

      Also I think James Allison returning will definitely bring a boost to the team. It must be really tough for him after what happened, he will probably not fully recover, but hopefully in some way he can become even more driven by the last few months. I am sure his wife would want him to continue pushing for excellency in a top tier team all the way to championships!

      1. @khanistanf1, after the Monaco GP, the tokens situation for all of the manufacturers is as follows:
        Renault – 21 left
        Honda – 14 left
        Mercedes – 11 left
        Ferrari – 6 left

        There is some uncertainty over what will happen in the Canadian GP though, where Ferrari has committed to introducing an upgraded turbocharger unit. It seems they are still in negotiation with the FIA over whether it is purely a reliability upgrade, which can be introduced without having to spend tokens, or a performance upgrade, which does require tokens.

        If it is the latter decision, then it will have much wider repercussions on Ferrari’s 2016 campaign – I can imagine that they are therefore arguing their case quite vigorously with the FIA.

    3. The article by Will Buxton for Racer is an absolutely fantastic read. Highly recommended.

      1. Duncan Snowden
        5th June 2016, 19:33


        “The objective of racing is to cover the prescribed distance in as short a time as possible. How one goes about that is part of the allure. But the stopwatch does not lie.”

        Rossi won by driving 500 miles faster than anyone else did. Because that’s the only way you can win.

    4. “The secret is to win at the slowest possible speed” a secret that I’m sure was known to every generation of racers and attributed to whichever driver we 1st. heard it from, in my case that was “cunning as a fox” Jack Brabham, however too many fans overlook the most important word “win” to suggest that this philosophy applies to the whole field, it doesn’t, no-one says the secret is to come 10th. or even 2nd. at the slowest possible speed, the only slowest speed that counts is the one that is faster than all the other drivers in the race.

      1. I did wonder if the reason for saying that was because the reliability of the cars up until about 2000 wasn’t as good as it is now, so going faster than what was required to win the race could equate to more chance of engine failure.

      2. I think it can apply to tenth.

        The aim is to get the best result you can and do it with the least effort possible. If 10th is the maximum, then it applies to tenth.

        It’s more of a guideline rather than an actual code.

      3. ColdFly F1 (@)
        5th June 2016, 8:22

        @hohum, you’re right (with taking the above comments into account)!
        But I don’t think that on Sunday any driver was going at the lowest possible speed! I think they all went at the fastest possible speed; and a few went even beyond that.
        Just Bernd and the guy managing the track-lights have slowed the cars down.

      4. I think it’s a must, especially with today’s tyres and limited engines. If you build a big lead by taking more out of your tyres than those behind you and you get a safety car outside your pit window, then suddenly your advantage is gone and those behind have better rubber. Ricciardo was attempting that strategy in Singapore last year (he said he was happy when he saw Vettel gapping him), just as he was starting to put in fast laps, the safety car came out, in both stints, at just the wrong time, so we never got to see how that one played out.

    5. Zantkiller (@)
      5th June 2016, 3:36

      I really don’t see what safety aspect halo or closed cockpits adds that suddenly allows the use of gravel traps.

    6. There are quite a few things which grabbed my attention
      1. Someone should remind Wurz that a brilliant racer (Luis Salom) in the motorbike series sadly lost his life on Friday afternoon. Why? He loves racing. I honestly don’t understand the calls to increase the “danger” in racing, make tracks “extreme” and “punish” drivers when they make mistakes. Such calls should not be encouraged or heeded. “Extreme” “danger” in motor was not necessary in the past. It is not necessary today.

      2. – Comparisons to last year unfair – Vettel (Autosport)
      I find it interesting that Seb genuinely prefers the current car and the potential it has than that of last year. This is not the first time he has spoken in favour of the current season irrespective of the challenges they have experienced. I do believe that they have a very good car which has the potential to be great if they can make it work. The PU is already as good as that of the Mercedes. Plus, it is a well designed and hands down the most beautiful car on the grid, when viewed from the top.

      3. This last line in the COTD grabbed my attention: “The upside: James Allison is coming back to work.”
      F1 fans have a knack for rubbishing the contributions or achievements of one person and then turn around to big-up another. I think such behavior portrays personal bias even if the person fails to acknowledge it.
      Not taking anything away from the abilities of James Allison, my knowledge of him based only on his involvement in F1, I do believe that he can only do so much. Ferrari have 1000s of employees among whom Allison is a single individual. He is obviously good at what he does but comments all over the place about the man sound like he is the pillar bearing the Ferrari load and without him the place falls apart. Of course no single man has such ability. If a place falls apart when you are not around, it rather speaks volumes of one’s competence.

      1. When Alexander Wurz is talking about “punishing the driver when he makes a mistake” he means by adding gravel traps instead of run off areas. That way, when you go off the track, you’ll be “punished” for it. And I’ve heard quite a lot of people say that a gravel trap (maybe) could have saved Luis Salom’s life, since a bike that’s sliding on a tarmac run off area doesn’t lose speed half as much as it does in a gravel trap. Run off areas are great for regaining control when you go of the track, which is all great in a car, or when you’re still sitting on your bike, but not when you’re sliding down the corner, followed by 180 kg of bike parts …

      2. Uzair Syed (@ultimateuzair)
        5th June 2016, 11:06

        Beautiful? In my opinion, the SF16-H is one of the ugliest Ferrari F1 cars of all time, and Raikkonen and Vettel are rather unfortunate to be driving an ugly Ferrari, but that’s just my opinion, and therefore not a fact and you are entitled to your opinion. Still, looks are probably the least important aspect of an F1 car, as performance is what matters. However, the SF16-H is only the third best car at the moment, so they don’t even have performance to make it up for the ugliness of the car. Ferrari are not entirely to blame for the poor looks of the car due to the pathetic FIA rules, but they really screwed up the livery. However, I would rather have an ugly fast car than a pretty slow car, but hopefully Ferrari makes a fast but also pretty car next year (ignoring the ugly halo).

    7. That was China 2015 not Spain. Rosberg dominated in Spain of that year.


    8. ColdFly F1 (@)
      5th June 2016, 8:07

      I think you totally missed what Wurz said in that interview; it’s all about continuously increasing safety.
      He does NOT say ‘danger’, let alone argue that it should be increased!

      It’s a rather nice interview with the guy we normally don’t hear a lot about; but who is playing a huge role in increasing safety in F1. Or according to a certain ‘Alex’

      1. ColdFly F1 (@)
        5th June 2016, 8:10

        : “I think it’s fundamental in the DNA of Formula 1 now that there is ever increasing safety and it’s actually essential for the sustainability of the sport.”

      2. @coldfly Due to the language barrier many people use the word ‘danger’ when they actually mean ‘ more challenging’.

        1. ColdFly F1 (@)
          5th June 2016, 12:33

          That might happen @xtwl, although I think it’s more likely they use ‘difficult’, or ‘aggressive’ (as Wurz did).

          However, the bigger issue is that people comment on the headline without first reading the full article.

        2. pastaman (@)
          5th June 2016, 12:42

          The problem is, Tata put “danger” in quotes as if Alex Wurz actually said that word, but the word “danger” never even appears in the article at all.

          1. @pastaman, whilst Wurz does not explicitly use the term “danger”, at the same time there is a sense of contradiction in what he says.

            He talks on the one hand about needing to make the sport safer, whilst at the same time talking about how they can do things that would increase risks “because we don’t have consequences which could jeopardise the future of the sport”.

            Even if the car itself offers better protection, Wurz’s proposals would have the effect of increasing the risk of the surrounding environment. The net effect is that, in reality, the safety of the drivers wouldn’t improve – he’s effectively created a cycle of risk compensation, whereby the reduction in the likelihood of an accident resulting in an injury is being offset by increasing the likelihood of an accident occurring in the first place.

            1. @anon,
              Now, this is exactly what he meant and why I felt compelled to comment. He sort of contradicted himself by saying, yes safety is being improved but let us cancel that out by making tracks more extreme.
              @xtwl, @pasta man, @coldly, I used danger in quotation from various comments here and elsewhere of F1 fans. So that quote was not necessarily refering to his comment.

            2. ColdFly F1 (@)
              5th June 2016, 16:12

              #anon/#tata, I’m not sure what your mother-tongue is, and please don’t take this the wrong way, but you totally missed the point Wurz is making.
              In the quote #anon used ‘consequences’ is actually referring to injuries/fatalities. He is saying that there will be LESS injuries/fatalities; thus the sport is becoming safer (not more dangerous).
              #tata – you were the first to use the word ‘danger’!

              He uses ‘aggressive track design’ not as a way of increasing physical risk, but a design where mistakes have bigger consequences as far as the time you lose.
              I’ll put up one more Wurz’ quote which hopefully makes it clear what he’s advocating:

              you go to the showpiece events like F1, or WEC and the asphalt run-off area is an emotional killer. It’s like using three condoms because there are no consequences for your actions.
              I give you one example of how cool the consequences of a driver mistake can be: remember Hungary when Hamilton did a mistake in the chicane and dropped back to position eight because he went through a gravel bed and then the entire race, he chased Rosberg down. That was amazing!
              Then you have the opposite where in Silverstone the year before, he leads, it starts drizzling, he does a mistake in Copse where there has been a full asphalt run-off area since four years. He loses only half a second and wins the grand prix.

    9. I love the prospect of Zandvoort possibly returning to the calendar on the back of Verstappen’s success. I’ve heard the track is all geared up to ride the wave if Verstappen indeed becomes a serial winner and public interest in the Netherlands soars.

      Zandvoort is still a great track despite only half of it running on the original layout.

      1. There are a 2 rediculouisly expensive problems to make a return of Zandvoort possible:

        1. The track and facilities are hopelessly outdated. It would take ten’s if not hundred’s of millions to update the track in order to comply with modern F1 standards and especially the facilities around the track.

        2. Zandvoort is a small town that hasnt been updated since the 60 ‘ s. When the sun shines the entire place is a traffic jam from dawn to dusk and it has a very small railroad station ( 2 tiny platforms) the town would need a complete overhaul

        1. Forgot to say its a beach town so when the sun shines it gets very busy

    10. How come that if safer cars equals more extreame tracks all the tracks has steadily gotten less extream in the same pace as the cars has gotten safer ever since the pre war era. That statement is just 100% wrong and a bleak try for a catchy headline.

      1. @rethla
        Of course it is 100% wrong, which is why no-one (apart from you) made such a claim.

        Wurtz’s idea was something else: That with cars getting safer we can afford to make tracks more challenging again. And I agree with that.

        1. @pH Again, that hasnt happened for 80 years so what would be any different with the Halo?
          Hes just making things up to have something to say that will easily catch on the public.

    11. What Wurz is saying is the opposite of how FIA has operated. Besides, they are extremely safe now, the unsightly canopy protects would only offer slightly more protection against other cars, not the environment.

      1. Alex McFarlane
        5th June 2016, 13:55

        A better idea I think would be to reduce/streamline aerodynamics so you don’t have bits flying off cars every single grand prix weekend putting drivers at risk. You watch older races before aerodynamics went mad you never see parts flying off cars into somebody elses car, or at least nowhere near as often.

    12. Why do we need gravel traps when cars could electronically be made to lose power if they go off? Gravel flips cars, and doesn’t have the stopping power as asphalt. It also sometimes retires a car just for missing a corner which is ridiculous. Gravel also means more tow trucks around the track and that’s obviously not good at all, plus it means more safety cars which hurts the sporting element.

      1. Morningview66
        6th June 2016, 16:04

        Is it ridiculous though, what happens in Monaco if you miss a corner?
        In my opinion tracks should be lined with grass, gravel, an abrasive substance. Or even if it was just a strip of AstroTurf or something to punish a mistake followed by asphalt so a cat could recover.
        It’s hard to removed the large run off as a lot of this also is put down to help amateur drivers who use the tracks on many of the other weekends.

    13. Sviatoslav (@)
      6th June 2016, 7:59

      Furthermore, Ferrari has six engine development tokens yet to use this season, Renault has 21.

      – someone in Renault said that they have “too many tokens”, and they will not use them at all. In Monaco, they presented the last upgrade for the engine this season.

    14. What happened to the £10m that the Indonesian government so proudly “guaranteed” to provide to Manor in the l;etter they were happy to let the world’s press see? (http://www.f1fanatic.co.uk/2015/12/11/indonesian-government-offers-manor-10m-for-haryanto-seat/). Haryanto’s mother seems to be suggesting that they didn’t stump up that cash.

    Comments are closed.