Carlos Sainz Jnr, McLaren, Spa-Francorchamps, 2020

McLaren drivers pleased Spa is restoring gravel traps

2020 F1 season

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McLaren drivers Carlos Sainz Jnr and Lando Norris have praised plans to restore gravel traps at Spa-Francorchamps.

The circuit operators recently announced a €80 million (£72.7m) refurbishment programme. The change will include upgraded spectator facilities, new grandstands and expanded run-off areas at certain corners on the seven-kilometre track, which is the longest on the F1 calendar.

The alterations at several of the circuits signature corners – La Source (turn one), Raidillon (turn four), Les Combes (turn five), Stavelot (turn 14) and Blanchimont (turn 17) – will include the restoration of gravel traps. These were replaced with asphalt run-offs during a previous renovation of the circuit.

Sainz was among those who praised the decision to restore more natural deterrents to stop drivers running wide. “Welcome back gravel and pray for more gravel in the future,” he said. “And grass and everything, because that’s exactly what I think we all need to do to make the circuits nice and spectacular again.

“I didn’t know gravel cost 80 million,” he added. “I hope there’s something else going on that Spa and not they’re wasting 80 million on gravel. But welcome back gravel and keep praying for more gravel and more grass.”

Lando Norris echoed his team mate’s view. “It’s something which has been brought up quite a bit with these different tracks,” he said. “Every time we go to a track like the Nurburgring or one that’s a bit more old-school we always say we like it more.”

“More and more tracks are being used by motorbikes which is the reason we can’t have gravel as much,” he added. However the latest changes, along with other revisions this year which saw some artificial grass run-offs replaced with asphalt, are being made in order to accommodate motorbike racing.

Spa-Francorchamps circuit map
Spa-Francorchamps circuit map

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17 comments on “McLaren drivers pleased Spa is restoring gravel traps”

  1. I’m surprised that the corner before Pouhon isn’t one of those targeted for gravel traps nor the exit of the last chicane, although going off there isn’t really beneficial anyway due to the low-speed nature of it, hence, why I didn’t see the point in taking lap time away for going beyond the curbing there. Exceeding track limits at a corner exit is more directly beneficial at high(-ish) speed corners (Copse, Stowe, Parabolica, last two corners of Red Bull Ring, etc.,) than slower ones.

    1. The corner before Pouhn is not often one that people run wide as there is a natural deterrent of the cliff that sticks out – it’s a tricky off camber corner that has caught many out in the past and has ver very little run off due to the big cliff – so I’m not surprised they are not adding gravel there.

      I agree though the exii of the last chicane should a canididate.

      Personally I do not like circuits with gravel for track days – at Stavelot I was sprayed with gravel in my Caterham and left looking like I’d been in shoot out!

      Great circuit though and Pouhn is possibly my favorite corner of all time!

  2. Until they get punted off into “The Trap” ……. watch this space!

  3. I think a gravel trap outside of turn 1 should be fun to watch.

    I can’t remember the last belgian gp which started with no driver taking the run off area after turn 1. If it’s a gravel trap.. it would have been mighty interesting

  4. “I didn’t know gravel cost 80 million,” he added. “I hope there’s something else going on that Spa and not they’re wasting 80 million on gravel. But welcome back gravel and keep praying for more gravel and more grass.”

    Carlos being an ignorant troll.

  5. Sigh.. As if gravel traps vs asphalt isn’t well and truly debated and tested already.

    The drivers want it as a “natural deterrent” to going wide (as they are obviously masters at never going wide..), but then when they are pushed off into and gotten stuck, what then? Good for your championship? The team’s? The spectacle? Safety? (car bouncing and turning over)

    How is it even possible for the most technically advanced sport in the world to only have gravel as an option for deterring drivers going wide in corners?

    1. @balue Sausage curbs and other similar objects are also an option and should be used more often, especially for low(ish)-speed corners.

      1. @jerejj Yes but those are also dangerous in that they can damage things on the car which then break later in the lap like already seen at Red Bull Ring.

        I really don’t see why it should not be possible to come up with an electronic solution that would slow cars down after having gone off.

        1. @balue Not the case at the slower-speed stuff. The risk of car damage is more or less non-existent coming out of a slow-speed corner. The given corners at Red Bull Ring are high-speed, so a different story.

          1. @jerejj not necessarily, t1 at Macau is slow speed but the kerb is on the inside. I’m sure you’ve seen the incident but if not you should look, it’s horrific. The car gets launched by the kerb, over the catch fence, and into a photographer bunker, injuring two photographers and a marshal, and fracturing Sophia’s back. People could have been killed.
            Gelael fracture his back between t13 & t14, another slow speed section, the plank hit the kerb and the car was launched. Because of the way you sit in formula cars the base of your spine is practically on the floor.

            Last year in Monza F3 Alex Peroni was launched some 20 feet into the air at the exit of Parabolica.
            Same at Spa F3 a few years ago now, car arrives backwards at the bus stop, launched maybe 10 feet into the air.

            IMO they do nothing to deter track limit abuse, and have created a number of incidents resulting in injury to drivers and could have potentially killed marshals. That Peroni incident is terrifying

      2. Sausage kerbs are so dangerous! We are lucky not to see more serious incidents like Floersch in Macau or Gelael at Barcelona.

    2. It bothers me to no end that there’s actual detection loops in the asphalt, that the FIA controls the main software on the car, and yet they somehow can’t figure out a way to make the engine’s turn down 10% for every meter they go further from the wrong end of the white line.

      1. @aiii Me too. It seems so obvious.

      2. Yes well imagine you are directly behind a car that gets all 4 wheels off (but you manage to keep 2 wheels inside), it is extremely dangerous to automatically slow the car in front of you. This is all well and good if you are playing a video game that “ghosts” the slower car in front, not so much in real life.

        1. @pastaman There’s nothing that says the slowdown has to be instant. It could be gradual to simulate a gravel trap for example, and marked with fast blinking rear lights as well.

    3. @balue frankly I dont think that is the case here. I’m glad Spa realised they don’t have enough run-off for asphalt. It was dumb not to call it irresponsible to race in this guise.

  6. Of course he likes gravel – he’s a Sainz!

    Hope there’s some left at Portimão and Imola – but I suspect they’ve tidied it all away for the bikes.

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