F1 drivers impressed by TecPro but concerned over fire in huge F2 crash

Formula 2

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Formula 1 drivers praised the performance of the TecPro barrier in the huge crash which brought Sunday’s Formula 2 race to an early end.

The F2 sprint race was red-flagged after Jack Aitken and Luca Ghiotto tangled in turn three. The pair crashed heavily into the TecPro barrier on the outside of the corner, but both were able to climb out of their cars unaided.

The crash caused extensive damage to the barrier, and the race could not be restarted before the afternoon’s grand prix began. Nonetheless Daniel Ricciardo was among those who were impressed by how the barrier performed.

“The crash was obviously very big,” said the Renault driver. “TecPro I think was really good for that. I was quite amazed that they got out so easily, which was obviously what I wanted to see.

“I would definitely say the TecPro is very important on some of these high-speed corners. It does absorb a lot and and lets the car kind of slow down gradually by the look of it.”

Ghiotto’s car caught fire after he climbed out of it, and it took several minutes for the marshals to bring the fire under control.

Jack Aitken, Formula 2, Sochi, 2020
Aitken and Ghiotto walked away from enormous crash
“I don’t want to be critical in such an accident, but the marshals, I think they were quite slow to put the fire,” said Ricciardo. “Obviously Ghiotto had got out of the car but I would like to think that they would have acted quicker if he was struggling to get out.”

George Russell, who was involved in a heavy crash with Antonio Giovinazzi at Spa, was also impressed by the performance of the barrier.

“Obviously it was really positive to see those guys get out of the cars so quickly,” he said. “It was such a huge impact, it was a scary speed and I guess it shows what a great job the FIA have been doing and F2 to create such a strong car.

“The TecPro was also really interesting. It obviously took the speed out of it really well. What was really quite nice, you didn’t have like a rebound effect, which is often what have with tyres like you saw with Giovinazzi’s incident at Spa. Hit a tyre barrier and you rebound back into the line of [fire] of others.”

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However Russell also expressed concern over the potential implications of the fire. “The only negative is that the TecPro went over top of the car, that car ended up on fire and he was very fortunate to be able to get out of it.

“Had that TecPro been over the top of his helmet it may have been a different story. But all in all, to see a crash at that speed is shocking and the way everyone walked away from it was refreshing for drivers.”

Daniel Ricciardo, Renault, Sochi Autodrom, 2020
Ricciardo: “I was amazed they got out so easily”
FIA Formula 1 race director Michael Masi visited the scene of the crash while marshals were repairing the barriers. He said the FIA would scrutinise the incident closely to see what lessons could be learned, but he was satisfied with the speed with which the fire was extinguished.

“The challenge was that it was quite a distance between two marshal posts is where the incident occurred,” he said. “So the firemen from the marshal posts that were both on the side of the incident – I wouldn’t want to be running with a fire extinguisher for the best part of 150-odd metres or whatever.

“As soon as the race was suspended and all of the competition cars had gone past, we also saw marshals from the opposite side of the track cross. So I think that in the circumstances, yes, seeing a fire is never good, the positive part was that both drivers got out unscathed, which is the most important element of all.”

The race, the second of three events in all categories at Sochi Autodrom last weekend, was cut short after seven laps and not restarted. Half points were awarded to the competitors.

Masi said it was “unfortunate” the race was curtailed, “but, at the end of the day, we have a timetable to adhere to, for starters. And secondly, the degree of that incident and the repair that needed to take place, I think in the end it took in the vicinity of 90 minutes to do that repair.

“So I think what happened, yes, it was unfortunate that the FIA Formula 2 championship didn’t get to complete its race but it does happen occasionally.”

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    23 comments on “F1 drivers impressed by TecPro but concerned over fire in huge F2 crash”

    1. While I think I mostly agree with the FIA/Masi take on it, it is a bit frustrating to always hear him ‘explain’ things with ‘this is how it was so it happened’ instead of explaining why, ie more like: ‘it happened this way because of these decisions, balancing x,y,z concerns, we will evaluate whether a different balance would be better, but for now it is okay/not okay’.

      We could all see it took a while, and yes, I understand you cannot have (esp. with COVID-19?!) marshals at every meter of the track, but you know, perhaps placement could be improved or something? I’d think they are looking at that, why not just accept that might need to happen. Masi seems sooo reluctant to admit there might be things to improve, it is tiring.

      1. Yes @bosyber he seems to deal with things on a superficial PR-type level doesn’t he. Like in Mugello he was all “F3 didn’t crash so it was the F1 drivers’ fault“. And this time: “the positive part was that both drivers got out unscathed,” which totally begs the question of how good the safety was, for if the drivers hadn’t been able to get out on their own, straight away. And ” which is the most important element of all“, stating the obvious but irrelevant in this slightly righteous way. No numbers in his answers at all. He’s not very clever, I suspect.

      2. Constant criticism of him is certainly tiring.

        I would be surprised why they had a crane directly behind the car but not a fire marshall but people seem to just want to get at him, if this happens then who is at fault, sometimes, no one. No one died, fires are super rare and yet we have people with a lot of opinions but little knowledge calling him, effectively an id iot

        1. If that was directed at me, you didn’t actually read my post.

          1. Both of you.

    2. The only thing i want to know did the technobarrier caught fire too?

      1. Or did the car catch fire because of the TecPro?

      2. No the TecPro was not catching fire even though a fairly fierce fire was burning next to it below the engine cover. Maybe the impact knocked out the onboard extinguishers.

        That stuff is amazing, those guys would not be walking away so easily if it was Armco and if it was a wall then I don’t like to think.

        I don’t know what anyone else feels but it feels like we are getting a few too many lucky big impacts and we cant keep being lucky. I know Hubert died, I was there, but thinking of the Tuscan GP, there could’ve been a couple of fatals there if it had been 1994 not 2020. A few massive gp2 impacts and now this one. I feel a bit uneasy anyway.

        1. It’s not logic to compare tecpro with Armco or walls. The comparison should be with tyre barriers, and yes they are slightly better.

          The issue in the F2 crash is the time marshals took to help. This is becoming a trend recently.

          Another issue in the corner is the distance between the barriers and the track. It’s too small for the type of corner it is.

          If F1 is pushing for a closer racing in 2022, it needs to address this issues, because we will have much more contact crashes than before, and current barriers seem to be designed for racing crashes only

          1. Yes it is ‘logic’. We have progressed from bales to catch fencing to Armco/walls and then tyres to this. TecPro just stopped a major crash from being much worse. Does that help you ‘logic’ this?

    3. Interesting to hear more of the positives rather than the negatives regarding this incident. I saw it more as a warning of another potential safety hazard: these low-nosed cars like to dig under the barriers, and can you imagine if one of the drivers was trapped under the barrier with the car on fire and the firemarshalls taking minutes to put out the fire?

    4. One of the features of the Tecpro barrier is it is layered with spaces between each layer. It might be worth knowing why they chose that arrangement.

      1. Given the angle of those spaces and the direction of the crashing cars, I noted that both cars after going through the first set of barriers were channelled between the spaces where smaller barriers were installed; giving them a violent but more controlled stop. If that was the actual intention it was mighty impressive.

      2. Alexander Bernadina
        30th September 2020, 9:33

        google “tecprobarriers” and you ll find loads of information. also on youtube there s a nice video.

      3. @drycrust The gaps between the layers is to help absorb energy.

        Without the gaps inbetween the layers while it would still be a softer impact than hitting a concrete wall, It wouldn’t have the same level of energy absorption & would therefore not be as effective. It’s the same reason you have some circuits in the US stagger the tire walls to have gaps between each row, That extra little bit of give takes away a lot of energy. The safer wall you see on ovals is a similar concept.

    5. I noticed that in many crashes in F2 recently the 18-inch wheels play a role: at the slightest touch the tire runs off the rim.
      After that, the car is out of control.

      1. @osella-alfaromeo I haven’t seen any other F2 crashes, but this sounds like a serious health and safety issue. Maybe they need to be using a higher tyre pressure. Hopefully the FIA and Pirelli are investigating this. It needs to be addressed before they start racing with these bigger rims in F1.

      2. Oh, I’m keen to see the governing bodies’ reaction to this if the pattern continues. Will safety overcome corporate politics at a snap?

    6. All new systems come with the benefits of new ideas and new technology. As for the fire a simple addition of a fire retardant to its chemical makeup should solve this dangerous situation. But if the crash burns the car and the safety barriers then burn then this needs a second look.
      If this issue of fire becomes a problem then another supplier should step up and prove their worth. Let’s hope it’s just a bad moment but learn from it. Many fans understand how bad fire was in F1 half a century ago. None of what I say is new. But the fire problem with new safety barriers is alarming for it to happen at all.

      1. According to the FIA:
        “The barrier system must be designed such that it does not ignite when exposed to a flame source or does not continue burning after the flame source has been extinguished.
        The FIA reserves the right to evaluate the design and material specification and submit the barrier to a flammability test as defined in the Standard ISO 3795 or equivalent and refuse the homologation if the barrier system does not conform to the requirements of this aforementioned standard.”
        So, in some ways, the flammability issue is, at least, considered. Other issue is that the barrier got desintegrated so, perhaps, the internal materials do not comply with this requirement, just the external carcass.

    7. I also got impressed by tecpro. Its success, considering those speeds at that narrow run-off makes me remember Tamburello-Villeneuve. It is such a shame both got stigmatized. :(

    8. No issues with the barriers, but regarding the fire:
      Given that these days, any incident like this will definitely trigger at minimum a safety car, why can’t we have mobilised fire marshals like in Indy Car? They’re usually on the scene in a matter of seconds, even on street / road courses. Then you’re not relying on one guy to do a run.

      1. indycar has a permanent marshal / safety staff with a minimum amount working every race. granted it is a local series where logistics and legal aspects are basically non-issues. F1, as far as i know, relies on only on a few people on staff and a freelance “Clerk of The Course” who oversees marshals and other medical personnel of vastly varying competence levels from event to event. All emergency personnel must ask for authorization from the Clerk to do a job. Its levels of useless bureaucracy in F1 which costs valuable time, instead of the system in Indycar where competent emergency workers activate on their own instinct. Its kinda crazy that F1 being so “safety focused” has such loose standards for the performance of on-track safety personnel.

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