FIA “looking at” removing Catalunya’s chicane for future F1 races

2021 Spanish Grand Prix

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Formula 1 could revert to using the original final corners at the Circuit de Catalunya if it returns to the track in future.

George Russell told RaceFans last month he believes racing at the circuit would be improved if the slow chicane at turn 14 and 15, prior to the pit straight, was bypassed.

F1 has used the chicane since it was introduced in 2007 at the FIA’s request, to slow the cars as the arrive onto the pit straight. FIA F1 race director Michael Masi confirmed they are considering whether it is still needed.

“It’s something that we’ve been looking at for a little while,” he said in response to a question from RaceFans. “It’s obviously not an overnight change that can be done.”

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Masi said the FIA is “having a look at all of the implications and unintended consequences that may come about” from returning to the original configuration of the last two corners.

Article: Remove chicane at Catalunya to improve races – Russell
“Like all of our circuits and different corners and everything, we work together with the teams, the drivers and F1 in ensuring we’ve got the safest venue, but also something that promotes good racing,” he said.

Changes were made to turn 10 at the home of the Spanish Grand Prix for this year’s race. The bend, which was tightened in 2004, was eased and brought closer to its original layout.

Fernando Alonso approved of the change, though he admitted it did not make it easier to overtake at a track where passing is notoriously difficult.

“I confirmed the feelings that I had about the turn 10, which is it changed not much the overtaking possibilities,” he said. “I think it’s a very similar corner for that aspect of the old turn 10.

Circuit de Catalunya track map, 2021
Track data: Circuit de Catalunya
“It’s more fun to drive because it’s faster and you can carry more speed into the corner. So that was a positive thing. But in terms of overtaking, it was not a game-changer.”

He sees little scope to make overtaking much easier without significant changes to the track.

“Maybe a little bit extra DRS to right after the last chicane, maybe being able to open the DRS is a possibility for the future. I don’t know. Barcelona is going to be always tough for overtaking.”

It remains to be seen whether the world championship will return to the track which has held every Spanish Grand Prix since its first race 30 years ago. The promoters are yet to agree a deal to host a round of the 2021 F1 season.

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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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34 comments on “FIA “looking at” removing Catalunya’s chicane for future F1 races”

  1. I don’t know what’s the problem, why should it take so long? The original layout is still there and could be made a part of the track in literally no time. That way the speed onto the main straight will be much faster and DRS will be more powerful. There’s literally no useful purpose served by that godawful chicane

    1. @montreal95 I was about to post something similar, but yes, the change wouldn’t be difficult as the former track part still exists, so they’d merely have to relocate two white lines. Bahrain’s layout change last season between two consecutive weekends was so considerable that it required relocating S1 and S2 timing loops. With Circuit de Catalunya, nothing but two white lines where the old section starts and rejoins the current since the S1/S2 locations are the same anyway.

    2. @montreal95 The problem isn’t the track itself, rather the run off. There’s literally no space to make the run off wider and at the speed that the cars would take the last corner with the old configuration would pose serious threat to both drivers and spectators should anything go wrong.

      Maybe they could bank the last corner, it would make it easier to follow and potentially make it easier for the cars to stay on track and reduce the probability of cars going off, but i might be extremely wrong on that. In any case, it’s not as easy is as you say it is.

      1. @xenn1 It used to be a problem many years ago but now they’d said that with modern barrier technology it’s not the problem a couple of years ago already. If you look at the press release insufficient runoff being a huge problem isn’t mentioned anywhere. Yes it’ll take some time to replace the barriers there with some new better ones but this time is insignificant in the grand scheme of things.

        1. Ah i seem to have missed that. Changing the barriers around the exit of 2 corners would take about a day i reckon, 2 tops. So yeah as you mention, definitely enough time to do it.

          I was too young to remember what it was like when F1 raced in the old configuration, but the chicane is very awkward to navigate in any racing game i’ve driven on the track in, so i’m not a fan of it either. Hope they find a nice solution if the race stays on the calendar next year

    3. How about getting rid of the track? Lets stop with these ‘single point to overtake and only if you have DRS’ tracks

      1. I’m all for it, however the truth is there’s no other circuit in Spain ready or willing to host F1, and IMO no circuit better, apart from maybe Aragon but even that I find fairly unimaginative.

        Plus, not every track has to have ten overtaking places. Sometimes, one good overtaking place is enough. Without the chicane Barcelona at least is a good challenge for drivers with huge percentage of fast corners

    4. and DRS will be more powerful

      @montreal95 Remember that the plan is that they won’t use DRS next year & are looking to finally take it off the cars altogether if the new regulations work as hoped.

      1. @stefmeister Even better. the plan is that the ground effect oriented aero will allow cars to follow more closely and therefore “replace” the artificial DRS. The means aren’t relevant to the subject at hand, as long as you can follow more closely have a good chance to overtake into turn 1

  2. Why don’t they try using the earlier entry point of the chicane? Noticed in the overhead shots there are 2 options available for the chicane, one closer to the last turn, one further away. If they use the one further away, the length of the full throttle period can be extended marginally. This way, you are also satisfying the safety rationale (Which is why we have a chicane in the first place)

    1. @sumedh I wondered the same over the weekend.

    2. That chicane is even tighter than the one F1 uses. It was put there for MotoGP in 2017 after in previous year Luis Salom died when he crashed at old penultimate corner in Moto2. They tried it and riders didn’t like it so they opted to use F1 chicane instead. That is also when MotoGP dropped old T10 and started using F1 T10.

      For next year the runoff area in old penultimate corner was widened and MotoGP returned to that faster layout, whilst they still retained F1’s T10 until this year when FIA and FIM decided together to modify that T10.

  3. destroyed 1 and 2 second turn we need fast turn and remove last chicane

  4. Alonso’s suggestion is undoable because DRS through the last corner would be risky.

  5. Would be a great thing. On the PS4 it’s a horrible corner to take and would make my life online easier haha

    1. Same for me @ruben it’s just makes the circuit a chore, and adds nothing.

  6. Remove. The. Circuit. From. The. Calendar.

    1. agree brother – almost as bad as Monaco. Really crappy circuit overall!

      1. @slavichou I suspect we’ll get our wish soon.

        @sean-p-newmanlive-co-uk I’ve never seen that before, interesting, if we have to go back, worth a shot surely, can’t be that expensive to do.

      2. I like this one, great improvement and it seems it doesnt have to be so hard to make this happen. I already see more overtake possibilities.

    2. Catalunya. Has. Become. A. Specialist. In. Failure.
      Better?

    1. +1 and might not be done/needed anyway (if no further races at this venue)

      Anyone else noticed the glaring typo?
      “The promoters are yet to agree a deal to host a round of the 2021 F1 season.”

      Haven’t we, er, just seen that race? ROFL

  7. The circuit should implement some sort of banking if they’re thinking of not using the chicane. Nothing extreme, but a few degrees might be an interesting challenge. Considering how this year teams were having trouble with overheating the tyres in sector 3, it might be another variable for them to have to figure out. Have

    Of course MotoGP wouldn’t like a banking, as well as Pirelli, but it’s a suggestion.

  8. While you’re at it, tighten turn five, but keep the camber to promote different lines. Revamp 6-7-8 into a big long, fast left-handed sweeper that encourages different lines, before the fast turn 9. Then, wipe out the chicane.

    Alternatively, the run down to 10 should just cut out the last sector, with the final corner becoming a tight right-hand hairpin.

  9. Cant see them changing anything even if the circuit is retained until the impact of the new car designs for 2022 onwards is known.
    There should be absolutely no consideration whatsoever given to changing/lengthening DRS zones unless its to remove them or shorten them, especially for next year but there’s no need to change them this year either.

  10. I don’t see any reason to keep this glorified test-track taking a spot on the crowded calendar

  11. Fast corner before long straight = less overtakes because car behind can follow as close as it would in slow corner.
    Maybe next if new formula Formula works as they intended.

  12. Roth Man (@rdotquestionmark)
    11th May 2021, 8:51

    This would be a great move if it can go ahead without safety issues. The old track was horrific for overtaking as well but the flow a million times better than the post Senna crash style temporarily chicane thing they have now.

    That being said the late 90’s early noughties cars were flat through the second to last corner but needed a comfort lift in the last corner, if the modern cars are flat through both (even when following another car) then we could see some overtaking opportunities.

  13. I definitely think it would be an improvement and pile the pressure on to anyone defending a position all the way from the newly altered turn to the main straight. The chicane just acts like an awkward breaker in the middle of all that. Hopefully it can be made safe as that’s never something we should take our eye off the ball on.

  14. I don’t think removing corners is the answer. I mean, the entire concept of a racing circuit is that it’s an artificial piece of road that just loops back onto itself. Having corners is what makes it interesting.

    I agree the current 14-15 chicane is a bit clumsy but most of that I think is because there is only one possible line into it coming out of 13. That corner is too tight in relation to the very short straight that follows before the chicane. It means the entire combination of 13-14-15 is just a snaking train with no opportunity to use a different line for an overtake.

    My solution here would be to change from a left-right chicane to a right-left chicane in combination with shortening turn 13. I think making turn 13 more of just a kink followed by a right-left chicane could result in a better overtaking opportunity under braking. It looks like it would mostly be a case of redrawing the lines on the already existing asphalt and move the kerbs.

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