F1 teams want alternative to kerbs which can “destroy a car”

2021 French Grand Prix

Posted on

| Written by and

Formula 1 teams want changes to the kerbs at the exit of turn two at Paul Ricard because of the damage they have caused to their cars.

Mercedes sporting director Ron Meadows complained to Formula 1 race director Michael Masi about the kerbs during the first practice session. Masi pointed out to him that the kerbs were in place when F1 last races at the track two years ago.

“The 50 millimetre ones that we have in a lot of places, Ron, and they were actually there in 2019,” said Masi. “Our car’s rooted because we want over them,” Meadows replied. “We can’t say ‘well, you shouldn’t go there’ because that’s tens or hundreds of thousands of pounds-worth of damage by going three foot too wide.”

During Friday’s second session Red Bull’s Jonathan Wheatley raised with Masi the damage caused by the kerbs to one of his cars. Formula 1’s smaller teams are also concerned by the potential damage the kerbs can do.

“Obviously Jonathan complained to Masi,” said Haas team principal Guenther Steiner. “Even if you’re big team, we shouldn’t have kerbs there which destroy a car, in my opinion. [For] a big team or a small team, that is not constructive. If you know it damages the car, why do we have them there?”

“Should we put barriers around the race tracks and then for sure we wouldn’t go in them because we destroy the car completely?” Steiner added. “It’s a fine line where you say ‘it is acceptable, it’s not acceptable’.

“But there is other places when you go off the track limits and you lose time, but you don’t destroy your car. That’s what it should be.”

Aston Martin team principal Otmar Szafnauer also voiced his concerns about the kerbs and F1’s approach to policing track limits, which he says can be inconsistent.

“I’m not in favour of damaging cars,” he said. “I think there’s probably better ways to assess and penalise the track limits.

“The other thing is it just has to be consistent that even within a lap sometimes it’s not consistent. On this corner it’s one thing, the other corner where you also have track limits it’s something else. So I think there are better ways to do it, being more consistent. Also being consistent from driver to driver, team to team.

“And it’s got to be measurable. I personally like that better than having kerbs that damage the car. In a race situation you may be pushed by somebody and your decision is either ‘get hit because I’m being pushed wide’ or ‘damage my car’ and I think that could be an unfair situation.”

Advert | Become a RaceFans supporter and go ad-free

2021 French Grand Prix

Browse all 2021 French Grand Prix articles

Author information

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...

Got a potential story, tip or enquiry? Find out more about RaceFans and contact us here.

42 comments on “F1 teams want alternative to kerbs which can “destroy a car””

  1. Stay between the lines. Simple.

    1. Use treacle obviously!

    2. I heard the exchange between Red Bull and Masi and Masi answered quite readily “but didn’t all of you mention that having physical barriers was better than getting laptimes deleted ” @proesterchen.

      Exactly – if this is what it takes to keep drivers from abusing track limits, well, running over a kerb is probably still less expensive than getting stuck in a gravel trap. And certainly cheaper than banging into a wall.

      1. Alternately have a drive through penalty during the race and lap deletion for qually.

      2. Getting 100.000 pounds damage because a driver understeered a car on the biggest parking lot in F1 during a practice session is completely ridiculous.
        Especially when there is a budget cap…

        Reply moderated
  2. Or they could actually try staying within track limits. F1 drivers and teams are the biggest whiners in sports, and that’s saying something. I hope the FIA doesn’t give in, but they’re gutless and probably will.

    1. @forrest

      F1 drivers and teams are the biggest whiners in sports

      I follow football, and in MY opinion, the antics of some players far exceed a bit of moaning about track limits.

      But yes they need to stay within the white lines.

    2. @forrest They can’t give in (I’m positive they won’t) because of insufficient time for changing the small yellow bumps at this notice.

    3. Or they could actually try staying within track limits.

      @forrest That’s fine in cases where drivers run over them because they have simply pushed too hard. But what if they go over them trying to avoid a spun car or debris lying on the track, What if they are pushed wide while racing alongside another car, What if they pick up a lot of understeer in the dirty air or get caught out by a sudden gust of wing?

      Should the penalty for those things also be potential race ruining front wing damage?
      And what if debris from that damage causes more tyre issues which is something that is a concern right now given the recent tyre issues.

      As Karun, Di Resta & Croft said during Sky’s coverage, The penalty is disproportionate to any error a driver may (Or may not) have made & I think I agree with that view.

      1. I disagree with what you say there @stefmeister. Sure, having to avoid a car and getting damage, or getting into a wall or gravel trap is a shame. And it is exactly why we ended up with miles of tarmac around each track.

        Almost all the situations we saw where drivers went over the kerbing and damaged something on the car were just because they were pushing beyond the limits.

        And the hypocrites at Sky really should shut up. They are the first to whine when we get laptimes deleted, arguing that there should be physical deterrents to avoid drivers even wanting to go off track. And now that these are doing their work (making it punishing to abuse track limits) they complain again!

  3. The kerbs are pretty outside. Teams have no business complaining about this.

    And to say that you get tens and hundreds of thousands of dollars of damage is hyperbole. If the pieces are so expensive, make them of more sturdier material.

  4. Agree with everyone that’s posted so far. Stop whining. Drive between the lines. F1 should double down and put spike strips instead of “high” kerbs. Slow punctures. If you run out of tyres, so be it. If there was a high wall there, they’d stay inside it.

    1. Watch half the community pivot on this if Max or Lewis shove the other one onto the yellow curbs, you’ll get a solid decade of whining about sausage kerbs

  5. Pointless complaints by both Red Bull and Mercedes about the small yellow bumps used as physical deterrents for track limits enforcement. The same bumps have been in place since the 2018 return, and no one complained in either 2018 or 2019, so somewhat hypocritical of these two teams to suddenly make a fuss only because their drivers happened to get damage from driving above them. I was happy Masi stood his ground, like in the case of Mclaren unfairly singling out Tsunoda for a double-yellow infringement.
    The above teams survive street circuits featuring a damage risk, so weird contradictive, double-standard thinking.

  6. The FIA should listen to the teams….and then install these curbs at every other track that doesn’t have physical barriers.

  7. To me the cheapest, simplest and safest “alternative” would be to stay off the kerbs. They are not actually part of the track.

    1. @red-andy i just watched Max’s damage and it very much looks like he is still on track, as in one wheel is still on the track.

      I’m of the opinion these curbs aren’t suitable for F1, there are other barriers and curb types that are punishing without tearing cars up. But there’s not much I like about this GP. Paul Ricard is the low point of the F1 calendar, surely there are better options in France!? I can’t even watch a whole practice session at once, those stripes are too much…

  8. Whilst I agree in principle with the sentiment “just stay between the lines”, as Otmar correctly says, in a race situation you shouldn’t be in a position where if you’re pushed off the track the car is damaged significantly – what is worse: colliding with a rival or damaging the car on kerbs?

    1. But that’s absolutely the case at many tracks (Monaco, Azerbaijan) and nobody is advocating removing the barriers. Let’s not coat them in bubble wrap; they are very good drivers and if they want to, I’m sure they can avoid the kerbs just as well as they can avoid barriers.

      1. Yes that is the case at those two other tracks, but Monaco is a parade not a race with virtually no overtaking. And Baku very similar except for the long straight. By that reasoning we will end up with less overtaking and hard racing because drivers will be afraid of being pushed wide and damage their cars, even at such “normal” tracks. Those kerbs are too much, put gravel inatead, solves both problems better.

  9. ady (@sixwheeler)
    18th June 2021, 19:16

    Wow, they have found a potential way to make Paul Ricard an even duller sea of tarmac than it already is

  10. Barry Bens (@barryfromdownunder)
    18th June 2021, 19:18

    >put in kerbs
    >teams complain about damage
    >FIA: ‘Okay what about track limits’
    >complains about track limits
    >FIA: ‘Okay what about gravel’
    >comlains about not getting cars back to the garage after a mere brake lock

    I’d be the first to say the FIA is a shady bunch, but heck, they just can’t win can they?

  11. They didn’t want an “alternative” to the barriers in Monaco or Azerbaijan which frequently destroy cars. Formula One is about navigating a circuit in the fastest way possible; if you don’t think it’s faster to go over the bit that shreds your tyres and breaks the floor then maybe don’t go over it? Formula One is not a parade or an exhibition. Mistakes should be punished otherwise what’s the point in the sport?

    I’m absolutely perplexed by the complaints.

    1. Barry Bens (@barryfromdownunder)
      18th June 2021, 19:57

      I can’t wait for drivers to drive into the gravel at the end of the Tarzan-corner at Zandvoort when their brakes lock up at the end of the straight.

      I was there last week: the wasps have started nesting too. I’m sure those will be very happy with some F1-car mowing away their hive. Can’t wait for the complaints to Masi regarding ‘vicious stingy insects’ and them having to find an alternative that doesn’t cost their driver to many stings.

    2. @ben-n What I’m perplexed about is that if you (et al) don’t want a parade or an exhibition, why do you want drivers afraid to race and push for fear of day-ending damage? Aside from the tracks where walls are an obvious necessity, I don’t see what is so hard to understand about drivers and teams wanting kerbing or what have you that punishes in terms of lap times but not in terms of car damage?

      So I’m just as perplexed that when drivers and teams complain about this it is so easy for those in their armchairs to just call them whiners, and say ‘just stay between the lines.’ Isn’t it blatantly obvious that that is far easier said than done in something such as the pinnacle of racing where they are competing at the highest level and don’t want to have to tiptoe around every track, and don’t want to have to back out of every situation for fear of car breakage? Isn’t the number of complaints from the paddock indicative of an issue than needs resolving? Why is the go to for ‘fans’ of F1 and all that it is supposed to be, that F1’ers are just a bunch of whiners that can’t stay between the lines? Maybe they actually have a point or two, these experts at F1 who are at the peak of their game. I think I’ll listen much more closely to them, than a bunch in their armchairs who think it is so easy that one must wonder what they therefore think is so enthralling to watch.

      ‘Mistakes should be punished otherwise or what’s the point of the sport’ you say, but when it comes to car damaging kerbing that is like saying one ball in tennis hit over the line and you’re eliminated. Rather, one ball hit over the line and you lose a point, and you live to still fight for the win.

      So is it safe to say you are an advocate for walls around every corner of every track? I doubt it, but why do you advocate for the equivalent race ending alternative? And what about a mistake that one driver makes, that sends another driver on the damaging kerbing. One drivers mistake should punish another driver to the extreme, or what’s the point in the sport?

      1. @robbie I’m a little conflicted about it to be honest.

        There’s definitely got to be an onus on drivers to not overcook things, and it is something they can do when there’s a wall there.

        However, in this case, I think those kerbs are just too close and they’re punishing someone that had only “just” gone over the limit – a bit akin to “brushing” a wall without major damage.

        My thought is that they need to move the kerbing a couple of metres further out (or at least a metre) to allow for a slight error to be OK and to catch those that are simply overdoing things massively – those ones yesterday were just plain destructive if you ended up with only 1/2 the car over.

  12. I’d say damaging kerbs are fine as long as they’re not a safety concern (flipping a car, or air time which means no brake time). High risk of damage should be enough of a deterrent. Having said that, (changing) wind is an issue on such a wasteland of a ‘circuit’. I’d be fine if someone needs to abandon the race because of a driver error. But it would be lame if only a gust of wind ends someones race.

    1. Pretty fine line between the two sometimes, is it a mistake to not be prepared for wind? But agree with the setiment. You could wreck someones weekend if you push them wide there, which I expect will happen on Sunday.

      1. @antznz
        Yes you could argue the driver who crashed over them because of the wind just didn’t keep enough in reserve. But still I’d say that gusts of wind is a lottery. It’s not the same for everyone so too much of a luck/bad luck factor. As opposed to another external factor, rain. That is the same for everyone. Yes it is still changeable but so much slower and therefor more fair for everyone I’d say…

  13. Looks like that curb is the perfect solution for the track limit violation issue. It is safe to go over the curb, but it damages the car. It is a dilemma for teams. They may stay away from the curb, or they may choose to run the curb and pay the price.
    Problem solved.

    Rather than removing it, they should introduce similar curbs on all other tracks and turns.

  14. Make cars that don’t break on the curbs or stay off of them. The teams have too much input in rule making. Miss the days of Jean Marie Balestre.

    1. So you think we should have monster truck racing? Seriously go and look at the things, nothing that meets the definition of a car can ride those things and not break.

  15. Coventry Climax
    18th June 2021, 20:52

    If tracklimits are defines as ‘at least two wheel should remain within the white lines’, then kerbs that damage a car that is complying to this definition, are downright wrong.
    There is not one, single race class, that does not try to ‘maximise’ each and every corner of any circuit, so that is in the DNA of racing, apparently.
    However, I would actually like to see tracklimits defines as ‘stay within the white lines, at any part of any circuit’. If that is policed -fairly and consistently-, than damaging kerbs aren’t necessary either.
    Again, it’s the FIA that makes things difficult for themselves.

  16. As I said in one of the practice articles, I think I agree with what Paul Di Resta & Karun Chandhok were saying on commentary during the sessions in that the damage been caused is disproportionate to the mistakes been made.
    I can’t remember who it was but somebody also raised how kerbs that can do damage like that which can put debris on track may not be the best thing given the concerns around tyres right now.

    As Karun said in the days where that bit of runoff would have been grass it likely wouldn’t be damaging the cars & any deterrent put in place should be something that cost’s time rather than something that can cause so much damage to the cars.

    Both Karun & Paul also brought up how it would be better if the extra yellow kerbing ran straight along the back of the kerb similar to what they have at Turns 1/2 at Red Bull ring or the exit of the chicane at Barcelona as when it’s setup like that it still acts as a deterrent as running over it will beach the car & cause a loss of time without doing the sort of damage you get when you have the small blocks at an angle as they are now.

    And Croft finished the discussion saying how suddenly picking up understeer in the dirty air while following/race close with another car shouldn’t damage a wing in a way that effectively destroys there race. Again going back to how disproportionate the penalty is.

  17. Sam Donaldson (ABC News)
    18th June 2021, 22:45

    Steiner shocker:
    “I’m not in favour of damaging cars,”.

  18. What the teams are saying is pretty reasonable. F1M are being cheap and lazy. Rather than coming up with a proper solution for this day and age, want to try and solve the track limits problem with bits of concrete.

    A sensor that follows the corner and looks unarguably for when all four tyres cross it combined with power loss at designated areas on the straits is the logical solution for this decade. The technology is more than there.

    I really think controversy sells too much for F1 as a while to even want a solution to controversial problems. People arguing, speculating and engaging is what F1, or any entertainment product wants.

  19. Stay on the freaking black stuff !!!!!!! You can do it in Monaco you should be able to do it everywhere. Simple.

  20. They could swap the curbs out with Armco barriers.

    The drivers know if they run wide there the car is going to be damaged by the curbs. How is this any different from… nearly everywhere on a street circuit?

    As a fan of old school tracks where running wide is punished, I think the FIA should stand strong on this issue. The new circuits are far too forgiving of mistakes.

  21. many are discussing this as a all or nothing issue, the teams are complaining about the exit of turn 2, its a fairly easy bend between two more difficult corners that dont have said kerbing. These are drivers at the top of motorsports, they can chose their battles. If they can keep off the the wall of champions and still bottle it in turn 1 in canada, than France is a no brainer. These kerbs are a better alternative than another life lost in a barrier and should be consider at more races

    Reply moderated
  22. Didn’t hear too many if any complaints over the last two races regarding this issue. That’s because it’s accepted that if you push too early with a wall there you’re going to get bit and it’s all your own fault. Difference here being Bottas could have used the acres of run of to the left hand and avoided while Max could have lifted his foot for the same, yet both kept them down and all of a sudden it’s the tracks fault.

    Just keep it between the lines with only the outside wheels to use the full extent of kerbs where applicable and you can’t really go wrong.

  23. Big foam blocks, similar to brake markers. Positioned at points where track limits are an issue. Drivers would instinctively seek to avoid hitting them. They may cause minor damage to fragile aero components, but nothing serious (a suitable punishment for abusing track limits). It will be abundantly clear when someone runs wide.

    Put some sponsorship on them, maybe embed a camera in some of them for a camera angle usually only seen on street circuits.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

All comments are moderated. See the Comment Policy and FAQ for more.
If the person you're replying to is a registered user you can notify them of your reply using '@username'.