Bernie Ecclestone, Monza, 2016

Drivers dismiss Ecclestone’s call for more walls

2016 Mexican Grand Prix

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Formula One drivers have dismissed provocative comments from Bernie Ecclestone about building more walls around the outside of corners.

Ecclestone suggested to the media today drivers should be discouraged from going wide by using walls in place of run-off areas.

However Nico Rosberg said there are many other aspects Formula One should prioritise over relaxing safety standards. “There are ten other ares we should look at before if we want to make the sport even better than it is before we start looking at turning back the time on safety,” he said in today’s press conference.

Rosberg’s view was backed by Sergio Perez. “There are so many more areas where we can improve the sport before starting to put the safety in a risk,” said the Force India driver.

“I think we can definitely make the circuits at bit more challenging for the drivers,” he added. “Not necessary with walls but making the driver pay for their mistakes: if you go off, have a gravel trap and losing time. That kind of thing I think is good for the sport because that forces the drivers not to make any mistakes.”

Carlos Sainz Jnr cited this weekend’s venue, the recently-renovated Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez in Mexico City, as an example of a track which has become too unchallenging for F1 drivers.

“Obviously safety comes first,” he said. “[But] I just did the track walk this morning and you know when you see so much Tarmac run-off that you can go wide like in Austin, it’s good for safety but I’m convinced we could use some devices to make it a bit more challenging to make sure if you go a bit more off the track at least you pay something, you don’t gain an advantage.”

“At the moment it’s too easy for us to just miss a bit the braking point, nothing happens, continue and you don’t even lock up a tyre.”

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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  • 43 comments on “Drivers dismiss Ecclestone’s call for more walls”

    1. There should be grass directly on the outside of the kerb on the exit of corners like 19 and 20 at COTA, then road again, and then a gravel trap, rather than just having all road off the track on the exit. This will ensure that the drivers lose time, so they won’t go out there, but it’s still safe. Having more walls is a ridiculous idea

      1. I agree with having grass then tarmac, but it also means some challenges in maintaining the terrain as the tarmac meets the grass. A bouncing car can meet tarmac and flip.

        Spectacular I guess, but a rolling car heading for a barrier does not make for a happy spectator! Just ask Queensland Raceway, or the Green Hell…

    2. Walls are a bit extreme. What you need is some slippery grass just on the outside of the kerbs, and then some gravel a few metres beyond that. That will teach the drivers a lesson. COTA is a good track but it was very frustrating watching all those track extends.

    3. Classic Bernie. He goes to the extremes to make a point. I think few people would agree with him that there should be walls like he suggests, but that most would agree with his general idea that drivers should be punished more for going off track by adding things like grass or gravel.

      Bertie’s negotiating strategy is always like this. He goes to the extreme so that he can scare people and compromise on what he actually wants. He does this with track negotiations all of the time (ie Monza) and even proposals like his gold medal system, where I believe he only wanted a points system that rewards wins more (like the one they introduced), but in order to get it he had to go extreme and then compromise.

      1. I guess if you don’t care about looking like a fool it is an acceptable negotiation strategy.

        1. It’s not that he doesn’t care if he looks like a fool; … he doesn’t care if certain people, who are being a bit foolish themselves by not thinking his approach through, think him a fool by missing his point.

          And his point was outlined very well in Adam Blocker’s post. It’s a very standard negotiating tool, which has been used for eons; … ask for more than you actually want, even if it’s outrageous, and then let the bargaining begin.

          Bernie did not get where he is by being ignorant of such simple, yet still elegant tactics. How elegant? Well, just look at the results of Bernie’s “build walls” comment. We now have the F1 points leader, plus others, making suggestions on how to improve the situation.

          Why do you think Bernie is often seen with a sly grin on his face?

          1. Can’t argue with that.

          2. When you want a puppy, start by asking for a pony.

      2. I think there is an element of saying silly things just to get attention and he hasn’t realised it stopped being an effective tactic a long time ago.

        But enough about the US election…

        1. The sad difference is that Bernie is a senile clown who likes attention. Trump is an evil racist and sexual predator with a God complex that wants the nuclear codes to the US arsenal.

          What could go wrong?

          1. The other difference is that Bernie is actually a successful businessman. He didn’t start off with a lot of money and he hasn’t gone bankrupt.

      3. +1 – I think you nailed it there. Go to extremes then watch as everybody feels the need to revert to the status quo.

    4. Bernie has more perspective on F1 than anybody on the planet.

    5. I think i hate everything about that man, face included.

      1. My question to Bernie is this:

        It’s the Mexican Grand Prix, so will Mexico pay for the walls?

        1. Lol, answer, yes…Question, and how will you make them pay? Answer…just watch me. Trust me. You’ll see.

          1. Double LoL

        2. NO ! where not paying for the wall grrrrr!

    6. Building walls, the solution for life’s biggest problems…
      If you are to believe a presidential candidate or a Formula 1 owner that is.

      1. Lol yeah and ironically Trump’s wall is for the Mexican border. Would it surprise anyone if BE admired DT, who btw has also expressed admiration for Putin?

        1. @robbie – Now, there is a triumvirate, but certainly not a holy one.

    7. Relax… I think Ecclestone’s just pulling Trump’s leg :-p
      If not, both have an unhealthy fascination towards walls and Mexico

    8. I believe Bernie should read aloud from James Joyce instead of speaking his own mind any more. It would be much more meaningful and make infinitely more sense.

      1. Or that other giant of incomprehensible literature Bob Dylan. @bullmello

        1. Ha! @hohum :)

          Don’t worry Bernie; The times they are a-changin’, a hard rain’s gonna fall and if you’re knockin’ on heaven’s door Mr. Tambourine Man is going to come along to save you from the subterranean homesick blues even though you are certainly not forever young.

          1. @bullmello, Especially when he’s “down in Juarez”.

    9. make F1 great again!

    10. I suggest that at a minimum they should at least wait and see what the racing will be like next year with cars and tires completely different. Perhaps one of the reasons drivers feel the need to keep up speeds by taking license with the track edges is that they have to keep their tires in an extremely narrow temperature window or they’ll go out of their optimum performance and durability. Perhaps with the new tires being tread wear tires rather than thermal tires, not to mention they’ll provide more mechanical grip, drivers won’t feel the need to go over rough curbs so much. I could easily be wrong on that, but it’s just an example, and I would wait and see what the product will be like next year before making any big decisions on things like curbing or walls or grass or gravel.

      1. Agreed.

        The cars are going to be 4-6 seconds a lap quicker with nearly all of that reduction in the corners. (The increased drag from the tyres will mean vary little increase in straight line speeds, even coming out of the corners faster.) It will vary from circuit to circuit, but that is 10-15% more speed in the corners – 21-32% more kinetic energy. We are going to see much bigger accidents, even without walls.

        The 11% increase in car width will most likely lead to more collisions too.

        So the FIA is already planning more collisions with more energy. Let’s not add walls until we are sure we can stomach the injuries and fatalities which will result from the 2017 regulations.

    11. Mansell's Stache
      27th October 2016, 19:56

      Did Bernie get mugged again?

      1. Nah it’s face paint like the RBR boys are sporting.

    12. Hey wait, wasn’t it him and Max that mandated so much runoff on Tilke tracks that spectators are a quarter mile away from seeing any cars? It was in the interest that they don’t want the cars bouncing into the stands. Now it’s an acceptable risk so we can make it more dangerous for the drivers. I’ve always accepted the risk of watching from the outside turn of the fastest corner on the track. That’s why I sit 20 rows up.

    13. Kimi loves the idea…Walls Icecream is his favourite brand.

    14. I just assumed that’s what they were doing already with all the street circuits

    15. What next? Sprinklers on the track? …oh wait.

    16. There is a simple solution and that is to copy what 1/4 mile dirt tracks have. The outside limit of the track is marked by the berm (top of the banking), beyond that the track slopes away again. If a sprint or midget goes over the berm they simply slow down and reenter the track on the next straight away. One cannot get any speed up on the reversed slope so to go off the track in not race ending but it certainly impedes progress. Now on a F1 track the tarmac runoff for say a car width beyond the white line has a slight negative camber. (how much better engineers than me can decide) and anyone exceeding track limits will have to slow down markedly before reentering the track proper.

      1. Doing something like that may be fine for F1 cars, However having the track fall away at the run-off is not something that would be good or safe for the bikes.

        Thats something that many F1 fans & even many within F1 often don’t consider. They look at a track during an F1 weekend as an F1 track & forget that many different types of categories race on these tracks & that the circuit designs & things like run-off areas are designed with every category in mind & not just F1.

        The flat kerbs, Lack of grass & tarmac runoff is a setup that is preferred by the bikes as raised kerbing, Grass & gravel can cause riders to fall & flip/tumble which is where a lot of the injuries to riders tends to occur.
        Many of the LMP, GT & Touring categories also dislike gravel because those cars dig in far easier & can be far harder to recover quickly which can lead to more, lengthier safety cars to recover stuck cars (See the Porsche Supercup race at Barcelona earlier this year for an example).
        Some of the smaller, Lighter open wheel cars (Formula Fords for example) flip far easier on uneven grass & gravel (Even modestly raised kerbs can flip those cars sometimes) so again they tend to prefer flat kerbs & tarmac runoff.

        You also have issues for some circuits with the grass runoff becoming very uneven over time which can also lead to cars taking off (Petrov at Sepang a few years back is an example of that) so they see tarmac runoff as an better solution to prevent that from happening.
        Even the strips of grass you used to see behind kerbs can be an issue as you can get an uneven strip of grass that meets even tarmac or a kerb that can also cause cars to get airborn or riders to immediately fall off or a rider that already has to be launched or take a blow that causes injury.

        It’s easy to look at it only as a deterrent, but the organisers, Governing bodies & circuit owners have to take many, many other things into consideration & when you look at all the problems having higher kerbing, Grass verges & gravel traps may cause for different categories deciding what to do becomes a lot harder than simply wondering if an F1 car can go 4 wheels off or not.

    17. I think it would improve the show enormously if the track was lined in its entirety with walls made of polystyrene.

      1. Add some empty cardboard boxes and you’ve got my vote.

    18. Taking the subject seriously, Bernie is highlighting one of the big differences between early and current F1 and ALSO between F1 and MotoGP which is far more tense and exciting because in MotoGP one little error like a touch too much brake or 1 extra degree of lean-angle can be a race ending crash, and it can happen to any rider, even multiple world champions with a comfortable race lead. I still think the solution should be drive-through/25 second penalty for any off-course excursion unless caused by another drivers mistake, the 25 second penalty to be applied by the stewards if the driver concerned erroneously claims not to be at fault. This penalty would still be far less onerous than that paid by MotoGP riders, and easier to avoid as locking brakes mid corner does not automatically result in an “off” as it does in MotoGP.

    19. Bernies being Bernie again lol

      Seriously though how much of last weekends race actually featured cars actually on the black bit of the track?

      There is a simple answer though – deleted times in qualy and drive through a in the race if a driver doesn’t make any real attempt to stay inside the lines. Something like a 3 strikes rule would be easy to enforce but there is absolutely no will to do anything about it.

    20. SevenFiftySeven
      29th October 2016, 10:02

      How about we build a wall around Bernie, instead? Imagine a tiny box randomly circulating around the paddock before the race starts. During the race, the cameras can momentarily switch to the box getting stuck on revolving doors. I bet this will bring new fans to F1. Someone please pitch this idea to Bernie.

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