Vettel: F1 “got lucky” drivers missed Baku’s pit entry barrier in high-speed crashes

2021 Azerbaijan Grand Prix

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Sebastian Vettel says Formula 1 “got lucky” with the two high-speed crashes in yesterday’s race because Max Verstappen and Lance Stroll did not hit the pit lane entry barrier.

The two drivers suffered left-rear tyre failures as they accelerated away from turn 20, one of the fastest points on the circuit. The pit lane entrance is situated at the left-hand side and is separated from the track by a barrier.

Stroll and Verstappen hit walls running alongside the track, but Vettel pointed out they would have suffered harder impacts had they hit the pit entrance barrier.

“I think both of them, Lance and Max, got really lucky,” he told Channel 4. “If this happens at pit entry, we’re looking at a different incident.”

Stroll crashed before pit entrance, Verstappen opposite it
Pirelli is investigating the cause of the tyre failures which led to both crashes. “I think we got lucky today with both incidents,” Vettel said. “But that mustn’t happen, absolute no-go.”

Before the race weekend began Nico Rosberg, who won the first grand prix at the circuit five years ago, described Baku’s pit lane entrance as one of the “most dangerous” sections of track on the F1 calendar.

“There’s just a wall and it’s facing you,” said Rosberg. “So if something breaks here, it’s the end, there’s no more you. This is one of the most scary places that I’ve ever driven an F1 car in. To go by there just feels ridiculously wrong.”

FIA Formula 1 race director Michael Masi rejected Rosberg’s criticism of the circuit when it was put to him.

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“I disagree with that point,” said Masi. “The pit entry and the entire circuit has been designed, homologated by the FIA, is a grade one circuit and fulfils all of the various safety requirements that the FIA has within its regulations and guidelines.”

Russell retired at the pit lane entrance prior to the final restart
McLaren driver Lando Norris was given a grid penalty after choosing not to enter the pit lane when a red flag was displayed as he arrived at it at speed during qualifying. He suspects there is limited scope for the FIA to change the layout of the barriers.

“I don’t know what else can really be done,” he said in response to a question from RaceFans. “It’s a tricky one.

“When you’re going at such a high speed, no matter what, I think things are going to be dangerous at such a high speeds. That’s the way motorsport is sometimes.

“I don’t know if they can move the whole thing to the left and there’s more space to come into the pit lane or something. But unless something is very different I don’t think there’s many ways to make it one hundred percent safe either.

“There’s always something which isn’t going to be perfect. I don’t think it’s a problem, I don’t think much needs to change, to be honest. But I’m not the best guy for thinking of these kind of things, that’s not my job.”

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2021 Azerbaijan 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...
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...

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25 comments on “Vettel: F1 “got lucky” drivers missed Baku’s pit entry barrier in high-speed crashes”

  1. “The pit entry and the entire circuit has been designed, homologated by the FIA, is a grade one circuit and fulfils all of the various safety requirements that the FIA has within its regulations and guidelines.”

    “It is okay because we said that it is okay”.

    Masi is gonna Masi.

    1. @losd It’s a classic. Sporting organization will be sporting organizations. The last remnant of the ‘old boys club’. The only surprising bit is that he didn’t get aggressive with anyone questioning them.

      1. Not sure I agree with that. There is no motorsport (or maybe even sport?) in existance that goes to the lengths and costs F1 does for safety.

        1. They really don’t. In F1 they usually just react to stuff. The angled unprotected wall almost killing Grosjean with hardly any fire extinguishing systems for example, and now this death trap at Baku that’s been warned about. That could have been 2 deaths in short order. If they get criticism, their automatic stance is not to listen, but to get defensive. Yes they’ve implemented hans, halo and lowered the nose etc, but that’s to be expected like seat belts and it all followed deaths or near-deaths instances, not from pro-active initiatives.

          1. Think about the crane that killed Bianchi. And that even followed similar situation before that like with Brundle and others.

          2. ..and while I’m at it, the marshalls that almost got killed at Imola last year

  2. I dont think any other current circuit has wall that dangerous at pit entry.

    1. Interlagos used to have a dangerous pit entry, but they’ve made it better by adding the chicane.

      1. @geemac isn’t it just like Baku now? there’s a wall almost perpendicular to the track, and more than enough room for a car to go there if something fails.

        I think that’s the problem at Baku. There’s the whole straight facing that pit lane wall.

        1. Also the Baku one is nearly at the end of long flatout section.

    2. Indy Motor Speedway …

  3. Yeah, it’s very dangerous, and Seb is right, a few metres either side for each drivers failure and it’s going to be very bad. But what else can you do? As far as I can see, curving the entry around from the left isn’t possible.

    I always think the wall at the chicane in Monaco is dangerous, and the solution seems to be a big bouncy mat covering it. But I feel like one day someone is going have a failure down there that could be very bad if they can’t get down the slip road.

    1. @bernasaurus
      I think we already saw in Monaco in 2011 with Perez, if I’m thinking of the same wall as you.

      1. And Button in 2003… and Karl Wendlinger in 1994.

  4. Masi is a bit of an embarrassment to the sport isn’t he? If someone flags up a safety issue, his response is always “nah it’s fine.” Where Charlie seemed to work with the drivers and was always looking to improve things, Masi just seems like a politician – nothing is his fault, everything is perfect, people should stop complaining.

    1. While I think this is a fair comment, I do understand his position to a degree. Charlie had such clout, power, confidence (you name it) he could singlehandedly speak for any detail of F1 safety with full authority. There is no way Masi has the same power. He is just too new to the job and frankly Charlie was such a singular personality that he was always going to be impossible to replace. I imagine Masi must work with others behind the scenes to ensure there is some level of agreement on statements and therefore what he says often sounds like company speak.

      1. Same as in my workplace – sometimes the Deputy (as Masi was to Whiting) should stay Deputy. When the Deputy in my workplace was promoted to Manager, they were in over their head…

  5. It’s a fatal waiting to happen. Some very elementary mathematics shows that from 320 kph the g is unsurvivable at that angle.

  6. Tell that to Pirelli

  7. Michael (@freelittlebirds)
    7th June 2021, 16:43

    Scary stuff!!! If this happened on an overtake, it could have been crazy.

    I’m glad that Red Bull advised race direction to red flag the race. They deserve an award for sportsmanship there.

    1. Just to be a little bit malicious: Maybe they hoped that the race wasn’t gonna be restarted and Verstappen would still have won on countback…

  8. Masi sound like a true politician: “It was homologated by FIA so it must be safe…”. What a senseless comment!

    1. And now, we will all say that Masi is very dangerous.

  9. It’s a business. Balance the risk of someone hitting the barrier against the cost of redesigning the barrier. I this case I think the redesign could be done for a low cost.

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