Guenther Steiner, Haas Sepang International Circuit, 2017

Drain cover damage is “unacceptable” says Steiner after Grosjean crash

2017 Malaysian Grand Prix

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Haas team principal Guenther Steiner said it is “not acceptable” that a the broken drain cover was able to damage Romain Grosjean and cause his crash during practice.

“In my opinion things like this in 2017 should not happen on a permanent circuit, they shouldn’t happen on any circuit,” said Steiner. “This is in my opinion not acceptable, it is not up to the standard.”

Charles Leclerc, Sauber, Sepang International Circuit, 2017
Malaysian Grand Prix practice in pictures
“I haven’t spoken with anybody and the next thing what we need to make sure is how we can prove it doesn’t happen in the race because in the race this would have been a bit of a bigger disaster if a few cars go over and the covers come up.”

Steiner added he is not yet completely sure “what actually happened to end up in this situation” but said “in a few hours hopefully we’ll know more.”

Video footage of the crash indicated the cover was lifted by cars running in front of Grosjean before he hit it. Grosjean said he didn’t see the drain cover which ripped his right-rear tyre apart and sent him into a barrier.

“The damage on the car is very big,” said Steiner. “I don’t know exactly what it is because the car just came back five minutes before I had to get here, they hadn’t taken the parts off to see if the chassis is damaged as well.”

“Once we know that we’ll see what we can do for tomorrow. We need to make sure all the drain covers stay in place tomorrow.”

2017 Malaysian 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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  • 45 comments on “Drain cover damage is “unacceptable” says Steiner after Grosjean crash”

    1. Haas team principal Guenther Steiner said it is “not acceptable” that a the broken drain cover was able to damage Romain Grosjean and cause his crash during practice.

      “In my opinion things like this in 2017 should not happen on a permanent circuit, they shouldn’t happen on any circuit,” said Steiner. “This is in my opinion not acceptable, it is not up to the standard.”

      He couldn’t be more correct, this is a very simple thing to oversee yet it was missed. I’m sure someone will have a sore backside over this, hopefully lesson learned.

      1. Sepang should be taken off the calendar.

        1. Yeah, right, as should Monaco.

          1. Oh dear…he done a flyby.

          2. Plus race at Baku three times during the same season….

          3. Fully agree with @shimks. It’s a race that’s there just for glamour, nothing else! I’m sorry if sound insensitive to history, tradition, et al. Frankly F1 has outgrown Monaco. Formula E can keep going there.

            1. Ah, sorry, @pt; I was being sarcastic. :O)

        2. Lol. How about replace it with a French track!

        3. @juan-fanger It will indeed happen after this season, but for different reasons.

      2. as mentioned on another forum, if GRO’s car has suffered gearbox (or maybe worse!) failure as a result, he should be allowed a penalty-free fix

        1. yeah, whats the rules for that?
          if, say, the gearbox needed replacement whats the ruling?

      3. Guenther Steiner would make a great Bond villain.

        1. He looks like Mandrake the magician on a diet!

    2. The cars produce too many forces and as a result they are ripping up tracks and loosening drain covers. It happened before and it is no surprise that it has happened again with these new technical regulations. It is not the fault of the circuit if the cars have been made to be too fast and too powerful for it, they should not be expected to cough up the money to come up to the ridiculously high demands of the F1 cars. Get rid of the freaking downforce!

      1. Yes its a very good point. I think it was the MotoGP guys saying the f1 cars are destroying tracks by literally pulling up the tarmac.

        1. Reminds me of the insane bumps that developed at Istanbul Park before one of the heavy braking zones. I think that was put down to the braking capacity of F1 cars.

        2. That was about Silverstone and the motogp guys are wrong because as Johnny Rea put it out, the bad bits are the old track the new sections of Silverstone are smooth.

      2. Perhaps removing all of the aerodynamic aids and reducing the power to a max of 50 KW would satisfy your need for slow.
        The circuits would certainly last a lot longer.

      3. Robert, in the few times where I can think of a similar instance, such as Barrichello in the 2010 Monaco GP, the drain covers usually hadn’t been fastened properly in the first place – in the example from Monaco, the spot welds which were meant to hold the cover down were later found to have been defective.

        Given that I have seen examples of similar things happening in lower performance series, I can’t help but feel that you have taken this and distorted it to fit a viewpoint that you wanted to promote, when in reality I would be more inclined to put it down to a maintenance issue.

      4. Did you really just say that? Might as well get rid of the damn speed too…. it’s nothing but trouble … END OF SARCASM

      5. I am just imagining the new technical regs. “Downforce must not exceed drain cover weld matrix.”

        Yes it’s silly, but so is the suggestion that removing downforce will prevent these relatively rare events. Downforce is what makes an F1 car unique, otherwise you would just have a duck on a frozen pond.

    3. I’m baffled by the location of the drain: on the inside of a turn and on the race line? This is the worst possible.
      Also, in terms of it’s costruction, it seemed to be only the same size as the hole, meaning that the attachement surface was minimal.

      1. Totally disagree. That’s the best place to drain the track from especially on that long corner. You put it anywhere else and you will have a puddle at that corner when it gets wet and it simply wont drain away. Sepang circuit have done loads to improve their drainage and Im sure they did their research.

        1. Nah. You could simply place it outside of the actual curb – where the cars don’t drive on – and e.g. make a couple of grooves in the curb to direct the water into it. The slope would help that.

      2. The drain needs to be where the water flows too, that would be the lowest point.

    4. Can’t help but say Steiner looks like a zombie on that photo.

      1. beat me to it… he does really…

      2. Quite true, it had me wondering if he was unwell.

      3. He looks moribund

      4. The man needs more vitamins

      5. Exactly what I thought. Scary.

      6. Oh my goodness!

        I didn’t want to sound rude/insensitive by saying it, but my first thought was that was someone in a halloween mask!

        I do sincerely hope he is ok.

      7. Get well soon Guenther.

      8. I was thinking this as well. He seems very ill. Reminds of me a cancer-patient.
        Could it just be his skin reacting to the incredible heat/humidity?

        1. Time for a long vacation

      9. was thinking the same thing ! xD

    5. Does Guenther Steiner have an illness or an ailment ? If so, i wish him a speedy recovery. God he looks like a junkie in that pic…

      1. Sundar Srinivas Harish
        29th September 2017, 16:36

        Y’got the blue sky?

    6. Oh, so it isn’t acceptable to have loose drain covers on a race track.

      It would take a rather dim person to think otherwise and quite unnecessary to state the bleeding obvious.

    7. If I am correct, this sort of issue had happened quite a lot at Monaco in the past few years. A loose manhole cover was at leased partly responsible for Ericsson and Vandoorne retiring there during the race. It had worked it’s way loose just by being driven over and the track surface around it changing shape I think. The drivers had been told to try and avoid it but I think both Ericsson and Vandoorne ran over it in an awkward place. The way Ericsson lost control at the speed he was going just won’t have been possible unless it was a problem with the track surface. But as I said, he shouldn’t have gone there.

      I think Button either last year or the year before got hit by a drain cover in practice and had had to sit out for the rest of the session. And then a similar thing Happened to Bottas one time too. I think it was a drain cover yet again. It damaged the floor of his car and he couldn’t do any further running. This has happened quite often in Monaco. I’m not sure how this drain cover that Grosgean got damage from got loose in the first place.

    8. As a Malaysian myself, I feel quite embarrassed to see something like this happen in our swansong for F1. Yes, the part of me that sees this as my home race as well as being a favourite of some F1 drivers is one thing. But it’s reputation damaging events like this as well as that horrible error in 2009 of starting at 5pm (like really? It’s dusk! How can you expect any driver to have good visibility at sunset at 6.35?!) that makes me glad we’re not hosting another after this year. Farewell Formula One. Though it’s been great watching you in my home backyard, I’d rather go over to Singapore for my next dose of V6 fuel and duels.

    9. The same thing happened to one of the Australian V8 supertaxi’s a number of years ago now.
      It barely missed the driver when the drain cut into the underside of the car………Same track…….

    10. I believe this isn’t the first time that a drain cover damage has caused problems in an F1 weekend. In 2005, Juan Pablo Montoya had to retire his McLaren than to a loose drain cover damaging the floor. The drivers’ championship had by then already been clinched by Alonso. McLaren was looking to win at least the constructors’ title, but the retirement to Montoya put paid to the hopes.

      1. Forgot to mention, the Montoya drain cover incident in 2005 happened in Sepang too. So clearly something is not right with how they fix their drain covers.

    11. First of all, a loose drain cover may trigger a fatal incident. Second, if a drain comes up during the race it’s race over, a catastrophe for FOM to deal with.

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