Valtteri Bottas, Mercedes, Paul Ricard, 2018

F1 may drop Paul Ricard’s Mistral chicane for 2019 race

2018 French Grand Prix

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The FIA will consider dropping the Mistral chicane which was used for this year’s French Grand Prix when Formula 1 returns in 2019, following complaints from drivers.

Several F1 drivers, including one who has raced on the circuit without the chicane, criticised the decision to use it.

FIA race director Charlie Whiting explained why the chicane was used and said he was surprised at the drivers’ complaints.

“It was a joint decision, it was what was proposed by the circuit and we saw no reason to say anything different,” he said. “We wanted to have two long DRS zones, which I think seems to work well down the back straight.

“I know there appears to be now a school of thought that we could have done without it. But all the teams and drivers have known about it for a long time and teams have tested on that track so I was a little surprised to hear that come out of the blue on Friday.”

Drivers were not involved in the decision to use the chicane, said Whiting. He wants to hear feedback from them on how the configuration worked in the race.

“We can certainly do a simulation of the long straight, see if there run-off areas are sufficient, that sort of thing.

“But I would also like to hear the drivers’ opinions now they’ve had time to race on it. I think we saw a few decent overtakes there which I doubt we would have seen otherwise.

“It’s a matter of opinion, largely, but I’m happy to discuss it with all concerned.”

Whiting added he has no objection to removing the chicane “if there’s a strong enough argument for doing so”.

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Dieter Rencken
Dieter Rencken has held full FIA Formula 1 media accreditation since 2000, during which period he has reported from over 300 grands prix, plus...
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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Posted on Categories 2018 F1 season, 2018 French Grand Prix

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  • 54 comments on “F1 may drop Paul Ricard’s Mistral chicane for 2019 race”

    1. I think they could/should remove the chicane for next year as I think the track would have a better overall flow to it, Plus it would give them an extra challenge in terms of what downforce levels to run.

      I also think that they could probably not even bother putting a DRS zone down that straight as cars seemed able to run within a good distance of one another onto the straight & they also seemed to pick up a big tow down it as there was a lot of good wheel to wheel racing/overtaking even before DRS was activated. With next year’s cars they should be able to follow a little closer & I read that the slipstream should be a bit greater due to the new rear wings so I really don’t think DRS will be needed at that part of the track.

      1. @stefmeister Yeah, plus it really looked like DRS was too much of a help this time.

        1. @patrickl I think it was more down to a difference in car performance than DRS that helped passing into the chicane.

          1. @jerejj Seeing the Ferrari vs Red Bull passes (in both direction) I doubt that.

            Also other cars were pretty much at the same lap times within a few tenths and easily had the pass done well before the chicane. That’s not an overtake anymore, but a drive by.

            1. @patrickl Well, it didn’t take too much time for Seb to pass drivers with (rather significantly) inferior cars Vs., his Ferrari. That’s one example, why I pointed out the ‘difference in car performance’ factor. Then there’s also, for example, the aspect of drag-levels, i.e., how skinny or big the rear wing is, to take into account, as well as, tyre performance (fresh vs., more worn tyres), and how much ERS is being used to either an attempt to pass or defend, etc. People always seem to be a bit too eager to blame DRS alone for easy-looking passes even though there could very well be other factors contributing to them being easy-looking more than DRS alone.

            2. @jerejj Well those were Ferrari powered cars which just let him drive by. I’m not talking about those “passes”.

              I’m talking about the situations were similarly performing cars made it past each other easily (Ferrari on Red Bull and vice versa, or the midfield cars overtaking each other). There were plenty of cases of those where drivers were easily ahead well before the chicane with very small lap time delta’s.

              I agree that DRS gets blamed too often, but in this case I’d say DRS was actually to blame to a large extent.

        2. @patrickl, @jerejj, DRS was said to be too easy thanks to hard headwinds on the straight. Had that not been there I’m fairly sure Bottas and Vettel would not have gotten where they finished. I think Vettel passed all but one into the chicane.

          So yeah, it has to go, but they shouldn’t make the DRS zone too long, so the defending car has a chance too.

          1. @flatsix, I think that he might have passed two drivers into Le Beausset, but the majority definitely were made along that straight into the chicane.

            It does however beg the question of whether the change would necessarily be beneficial, or might prove detrimental – I’m not hugely convinced that it would necessarily work as intended, especially since a lot of the original predictions about how that chicane was going to make it so difficult to overtake proved to be so far off.

            It also begs the question of whether the teams would actually significantly change the downforce levels they run given that they are already running a comparatively low downforce set up around the current layout. On balance, I wonder whether it really would have the effect that people think it would, or whether it might instead result in more rapid field spread and something more akin to the rather soporific races we’ve seen at places like Monza.

          2. @flatsix DRS has to stay at least as long as the following problem is fixed.

          3. @flatsix @anon I agree. But I feel the greater benefit was Ferrari’s B and C (Haas and Sauber) teams basically waving Sebastian along. It was clear that Bottas had to work much harder to overtake people. The evidence is how much farther Bottas was after they cleared those midfield drivers. Well, Bottas didn’t even get to pass Magnussen so there.

            1. As always I read a lot of bias on this site. Sauber and Haas overtakes were normal overtakes: they did not cut their throttle in the middle of the straight as Ocon did in Monaco with Hamilton. On Italian Sky broadcast he admitted that he had to do it since he is in Wolf’s sphere of influence. Said that the Mistral gave a lot of show to the race in midfield as well. But probably the only ones to ask about it are the drivers.

    2. I hope they keep the chicane. It was by far the best place for overtakes and I don’t get it why people think long Mistral straight would be exciting. I don’t find F1 cars driving in a straight line to be particularly interesting.

      1. @huhhii I wouldn’t mind too much if the chicane were to be kept, but just for the sake of comparing, I hope they’d try next season without it to see how things would pan out without it Vs., with it. BTW, I find F1 cars driving on a straight line to be particularly interesting, which is why I enjoy driving circuits like Monza, for example, as well as, Baku’s 2 km long full-throttle stretch.

      2. @huhhii The way Prost explained it is that it changes the nature of the track from a low downforce track to a higher downforce one. Which means that fast bends are now easy flat out when with a low downforce track they would not be so easy.

        Don’t think he he meant to say that the race would be more exciting for the viewers without the chicane, but it does make sense it changed the track a lot for the drivers.

        1. @patrickl I don’t think removing the chicane would make a huge difference for car setups. A little bit yes, but they won’t suddenly go to the low downforce solution even if the chicane wasn’t there. Sectors 1 and 3 are such slow sectors with heavy dependance on downforce that I doubt they’d radically change the amount of downforce even if Mistral straight was fully used.

          1. @huhhii Well if Prost says it then I assume he knows what he’s talking about.

            It makes sense that it does matter a lot if they do the whole straight at 200+ mph instead of slowing down massively halfway through. But you are right that there are other sections requiring more downforce.

            1. @patrickl, on the other hand, Prost didn’t exactly do that well when he took over the Ligier team (which, already struggling, went into even further decline and eventual bankruptcy a few years after he took it over), so I would treat what he was saying with a pinch of salt.

            2. @anon – what does that have to do with his credibility in terms of track based discussion? He’s a multi-time world champion. I think that carries a lot of weight.

      3. Because the Ferrari’s were picking off significantly slower cars lap after lap in the exact same spot? No.

        As mentioned above, a long straight would shake up the downforce requirements of the track, hopefully giving us something more similar to Baku where the skinny wings for the long straights mean the twisty bits are a real lottery.

      4. Well yeah, corner after the Mistral Straight won’t be that hard braking, so probably worse place for overtaking than current chicane.

      5. I agree, they should keep the chicane, or at least think consider whether this race would have been as good without it. This isn’t about how fast Lewis Hamilton or whoever is leading the race can go, it’s about creating places on the track the encourage overtaking. This generation of cars create turbulence as they travel along at speed, and we’ve seen races with hardly any overtakes in them. I saw lots of overtakes attempted and achieved during this race, and a lot of those happened around this chicane. The lesson from the Paul Riccard circuit is not to have a track that lets the cars go as fast as they can around it, but to have a track that encourages the drivers to overtake.
        I don’t know whether the “the DRS was too powerful” argument is true or not, but as far as I know no two drivers were “leap frogging” each other every lap, which is what you’d expect if the DRS was too powerful. As far as I could tell all the DRS assisted overtakes weren’t reclaimed, so DRS simply made the overtake a bit easier.
        It looked to me like braking was involved in overtaking around the chicane, and DRS isn’t what you want when braking.

    3. Good. Do it.

    4. The chicane doesn’t really worry me too much. Nice to see it gone, but not the primary concern for me.
      The real issue for me was the run off areas. They make a farce of running off track. In fact, they actually encourage it. If someone pushes you wide, you just cut even wider and gain a few spots in the process.

      Turn 1 was a farce. Turn 3 was ridiculous. Take a look at the F1 highlights package. Go to 1:48 in the video and watch Magnussen and Hulkenburg. The crash happened behind them and was of no consequence to them. They just plain missed their braking points and just plain cut the corner. Watch Ericsson behind them. He tries to do the right thing and loses a heap of places as a result.

      People might argue that Magnussen was just in front of Raikonnen and came out just in front as well, so all is fair. But it isn’t. Magnussen missed his braking point and if there had been grass or gravel there, he might have come out at the back of the field instead. And sorry Magnussen, but that would have been fair. If you stuff up, there must be a penalty for that.

      At turn 1, Verstappen cut the corner so far that he almost overtook Hamilton. You can see he slowed down so that didn’t happen. The crash wasn’t his fault, but running up the outside into turn one of any circuit is risky if there is a crash. But a Paul Ricard, you get rewarded for that. I liken that corner to turn 1-2 at Canada. But in Canada, there is grass on the inside, so there is a penalty for going wide like he did. I am not arguing that Verstappen should be penalised, but I am arguing that this track rewards bad behaviour.

      The biggest problem will come next year after everyone has studied the video of this race. Brake late, run wide and just cut the corner. Even if you are forced to give a place back (unlikely it seems), at least you know you will be guaranteed not to lose a place if you brake too late. All drivers race to the maximum and manage risk Vs reward. There is no risk at Paul Ricard so that only leaves reward.

      1. Totally agree and said with more eloquence and analysis than I could have mustered on a Monday morning! Thanks.

      2. Putting grass everywhere around would be nice. Still safe for other series, and more excitement. Plus, I’m not fond of enormous tarmac zones with the racing line being just painted on it. Better have surfaces of different nature.

      3. @mickharrold It wasn’t Magnussen that went off at T3 it was Grosjean who only went off because he got clipped by Vettel. Hulkenberg then went wide because he was on the outside of Vettel who with a damaged front wing was understeering into him.

        The rest of the cars that went wide were avoiding the Gasly/Ocon accident & nobody gained any advantage so I see no issue in it. And the same for Verstappen, Had he not gone across the runoff he’d have been hit by the spinning Bottas.

        I don’t think the tarmac runoff/Track limits were an issue at all any point over the weekend. Anthony Davidson was saying during one of the practice sessions that running wide doesn’t gain you anything at Paul Ricard not just because of the way the kerb’s are but also because of the little sausage kerbs behind them as well as the fact that the runoff isn’t standard tarmac, It’s mixed with tungsten & is far more abrasive & even just driving over it normally will cause more wear on the tyres.

        Tilke was saying on Sky’s pre-race that Paul Ricard is how it is because it’s now designed primarily as a test track (And not just by race teams) & when testing they don’t want cars getting damaged by grass/gravel or getting stuck in gravel as that hinders there testing program. That’s also why some of the runoff areas seem unnecessarily big, Why there’s so many different track configurations & why it has things like a sprinkler system built into the track.

      4. Michael Brown (@)
        25th June 2018, 17:35

        @mickharrold You make it sound like everyone was going off track like in Austin or something.

    5. Why not make it optional :-p

      But in line with the required pit stop, each driver should take the chicane at least 30 times.

    6. I’d rather drop the entire track. While it wasn’t a totally dull race compared to the last few weeks, it was totally void of thrill for me. I hate sterile “car park” tracks such as Paul Ricard. Give me a gravel trap, or a bit of grass or “something” to discourage the drivers from extending the limits of the track. If I hadn’t known the layout from watching on-board cameras, I would’ve been mystified as to where the cars were going next. There was no risk, no thrill or expectation that something could happen at any moment.

      Personally; loathed it.

      1. Michael Brown (@)
        25th June 2018, 17:40

        That’s odd since going off track isn’t even an advantage here

        1. If it wasn’t an advantage then drivers wouldn’t do it. It doesn’t have to be a time advantage. An advantage can be gained in avoiding a collision rather than backing off, preventing another driver overtaking and in multiple other ways.

      2. I’m with the “drop it”. The racing was alright, it was the watching that was hard. My eyes hurt watching all those stripes. My brain hurt trying to work out where on the track they were because it all looks the same. The chicane was near impossible to see watching on my tablet so it looked like cars were just breaking in the middle of the straight for no reason. The whole viewing experience was completely intuitive. There needs to be some serious attempts to improve the ease of watching or go somewhere else. Racing aside, this is easily the race I’ve enjoyed watching the least and I haven’t missed a race since 2000.

    7. Scrap it. Teams will run lower downforce levels, Signes and Beausset will be awesome. Stop pandering to those who want a million DRS drive-by passes per race.

      However as the organisers have already gone to the expense of building grandstands around the chicane, I doubt it will happen.

      1. I was about to write the same. There were a lot of spectators around the chicane and there is no alternative location to compensate the loss of these grandstands.

      2. organisers have already gone to the expense of building grandstands around the chicane

        You can still have some excitement for spectators next to a straight, @keithcollantine.
        Bring in the loop: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_jYYhC2nRFY

      3. @keithcollantine, if they do decide to remove the chicane for 2019, only for that to then produce worse results, will you then be prepared to reverse that decision?

      4. Also it’s long enough that a car who is overtaken by a car from behind with DRS could slipstream taking advantage of that turn and overtake back.

    8. Only 13 more corners to get rid of…

    9. As long as they drop DRS, it may be worth a try. Otherwise, at least reduce the length of the DRS zone. Far too long on this occasion (if we *must* have it).

      1. @psynrg DRS has to stay at least as long as the following problem is fixed. Furthermore, without the chicane the rear wings would be skinnier than with it, so, that’d automatically reduce the effectiveness of the DRS, which is why it’s relatively ineffective in Monza. Less drag = less effective DRS.

        1. @jerejj Remember that rear wings are going to be bigger (Wider & taller) with a bigger DRS flap next year which will make DRS about 25% more effective.

          They will also be producing more drag & therefore a bigger slipstream effect due to the larger rear wings. And the changes at the front should make following a bit easier as well.

          1. @stefmeister And that means that the rear wings (without the chicane) would be even skinnier next year than they would’ve been this year had the chicane not been used, so, therefore, my point still stands valid.

    10. Dropping the chicane will make Paul Ricard even more suted Mercedes engined cars. Might be a bad move.

      1. I don’t think that’s true anymore. The speed traps have been showing that the Ferrari and Mercedes powered teams are very evenly matched.

        Two of Ferrari’s wins have come at Bahrain and Canada, where straight-line speed is key. Where the Mercedes team have been strong this year are in the fast corners of Barcelona and Paul Ricard. Meanwhile, Red Bull had the advantage at Monaco, a slow, tight, and twisty circuit.

        I’m expecting Ferrari to be the team to beat at the Red Bull Ring, then Mercedes to be fast at Silverstone, and Red Bull should have the edge at the Hungaroring.

        Although the on track racing might not be the best this year, this championship battle is well and truly on

    11. Doesn’t the DRS switch off when the driver brakes? Given the curve at Signes is taken flat are they relying on the drivers to manually switch it off? Could be some mega accidents if they forget..

      1. @chrispr27 Yes, and that’s the only way to deactivate it ‘automatically.’

    12. Safest F1 cars ever and they still feel the need to cripple circuits with chicanes…

      1. Not safety but money was the object here, where else to build the grandstands?

    13. Michael Brown (@)
      25th June 2018, 17:38

      An easy solution: Remove the chicane and the whole DRS zone for that straight. Cars were able to follow close enough through Signes that they could attempt a move through Beausset by taking a tighter line to beat the other car to the second apex.

      Basically, the long straight rewards low downforce, but the following corners reward higher downforce and grip. It’s like in Spa where high downforce cars have a good chance of overtaking in the final chicane due to their advantage through Blanchimont.

    14. Agree with most other commenters: remove the chicane and the DRS zone. Slipstreaming down the straight is enough to act as a DRS, plus not having DRS on the straight removes the safety concerns of drivers trying to take Signes with DRS open.

      Having said that, if they don’t remove the chicane, they should reduce the current DRS zone by 50 or 100 metres, making it so that drivers would optimally arrive side-by-side when they reach the braking zone.

    15. Funny since most overtakes happend there… But yeah, cars will go what 350 in to the next corner? Would be awesome until someone has an aeroplane crash.

    16. The run off areas in this circuit are rediculously big….it doesnt look nice

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