Carlos Sainz Jnr, Ferrari, Miami International Autodrome, 2022

F1 drivers urge safety changes before race to barrier Sainz and Ocon hit

2022 Miami Grand Prix

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Formula 1 drivers have urged the Miami Grand Prix organisers to change the type of barrier used at the corner where Carlos Sainz Jnr and Esteban Ocon crashed heavily.

The Miami International Autodrome is holding its first grand prix this weekend and the concrete barrier used at turn 14 has become a focal point of criticism after two crashes within 24 hours.

Sainz and Ocon lost control of their cars in separate incidents at turn 13 on Friday and Saturday and both hit the barrier at turn 14. Ocon did so with enough force to crack his chassis, which meant he was unable to participate in qualifying.

“Carlos complained to the race director, we are all there listening to it and nothing has been done,” said Ocon. “There was a discussion last night, Carlos said the impact was way too big for what it should have been and today it felt huge, it’s probably the biggest shunt of my career.

“So yesterday Carlos got hurt, I got hurt today as well. The FIA should push harder for our safety. But the important thing is that we are able to race.”

His team mate Fernando Alonso says Sainz’s crash made it clear a different type of barrier is needed at that corner.

“We are in the car and we know how it feels when you hit the wall,” he said. “And Carlos was very clear yesterday that it was not right to have just the wall there, not other protection.

Kevin Magnussen, Haas, Miami International Autodrome, 2022
Gallery: 2022 Miami Grand Prix qualifying day in pictures
“So today we had another accident, same place, same angle, another driver was hurt. So tomorrow we have the second chance to put something there.”

Lance Stroll said it was “ridiculous” the corner was bordered by concrete barriers instead of TecPro, a widely-used alternative which absorbs impacts through layers of plastic and polystyrene.

“They should just put it,” he said “I don’t know what the big fuss about it is, no one wants to hit a concrete wall.”

The severity of the crashes alarmed drivers, according to Sergio Perez. “We were surprised with the amount of G [force] that Carlos had in this corner,” he said. “It’s such a little accident and so many G.

“We don’t want to see that again. We want extra precaution in future and avoid all those kind of heavy accidents.”

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However Perez acknowledged “I don’t think it was possible for them to do any action” given the timeframes between sessions, however.

Sebastian Vettel was also unsure whether immediate change is possible, but insisted it is needed.

Esteban Ocon, Alpine, Miami International Autodrome, 2022
Ocon’s crash forced him out of qualifying
“It will always damage the car when you go off but the question is where you’re landing, whether there’s concrete or TecPro,” he said. “I don’t know what can be done overnight but when we come back, it’s important to look at all the places and see whether you can improve.

“Also around the straights, I think we should have SAFER walls, we shouldn’t just have this concrete blocks,” Vettel said. The Steel And Foam Energy Reduction (SAFER) barrier is widely used in American motorsport.

“Especially when we are coming up with circuit designs that have channelling around the straights, where you can’t see,” he added. “You don’t even need to go off, you can have a puncture which is not your fault and it’s always nicer to hit something softer rather than harder.”

Lewis Hamilton, however, said he had no concerns about safety at the track as the barriers are. “When we come to these new tracks, they do their best job. I think they’ve done a great job in all of these new tracks with safety,” he said.

“You can’t predict every single corner which where we’re going to need TecPro. But safety on track is great. So I think I think we, of course, after an experience like this weekend we can know that that’s an area that we can improve on. But that’s a part of the lessons we learn.”

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Author information

Hazel Southwell
Hazel is a motorsport and automotive journalist with a particular interest in hybrid systems, electrification, batteries and new fuel technologies....
RJ O'Connell
Motorsport has been a lifelong interest for RJ, both virtual and ‘in the carbon’, since childhood. RJ picked up motorsports writing as a hobby...

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12 comments on “F1 drivers urge safety changes before race to barrier Sainz and Ocon hit”

  1. Don’t crash

  2. I don’t think any part of the track where a car is likely to crash should be left with exposed concrete barriers. We learnt that 20+ years ago which is why runoffs were extended with layers of tyre and later tecpro barriers added.

    I know in some places there isn’t necessarily space for tyre/tecpro barriers but in those cases they should use a safer barrier and I don’t see any reason why they don’t have a safer wall in a few spots around here.

    Hitting concrete will always do the most damage even at lower speeds, We have known this for 20+ years not just in F1 but most other categories as well.

    Just because the cars are safer than ever now is no reason to start getting lazy with circuit safety because lets not forget that the cars were thought of as been safer than ever when they all turned up to Imola in 1994.

    1. Agreed @stefmeister

      Miami and Jeddah are the worst for this. It should not happen this way. Please fix these tracks, or race on other tracks.

    2. Hiland (@flyingferrarim)
      8th May 2022, 3:36

      For one this is a low speed section so I’m not so sure it is a huge “safety concern”. I do agree there needs to be something (tires at a minimum) to help lesson the amount of damage to cars though.

      1. Damage to cars is not the issue. Ocon’s crash was a 51G impact. That is totally unacceptable. This is not a high speed section of the track. Put some tires or tech pro over the concrete to lessen the impact to the driver. If the driver makes a mistake and the car is taken out of the race, that’s fine, but the drivers should not be subject to a 51G impact at that part of the track.

        1. 51g impact? Wow, wasn’t that the same as verstappen in silverstone 2021?

      2. As @danarcha mentions, those crashes really were heavy impact. A chassis is not cracked easily and I understand Ocon also was hurt on his leg in the impact.

        It might have seemed like a relatively low speed bent, but clearly it is not @flyingferrarim

    3. Totally agree. I find it bizarre everyone I see such walls anywhere near a race track. As far as I’m concerned the entire perimeter of a race track should be designed with the idea of a car going off track at the speeds they will be doing in the run up to that section. Just see the Grosjean crash, you simply never know when a freak incident will happen that takes the cars spearing off into a barrier.

  3. It looks like it may be a case of a poor risk assessment or cutting costs or a bit of both.

  4. As long as they are not wearing jewelry it should be ok. Reassuring to know that FIA sees safety of the drivers as the most important issue.

  5. The trouble with the American circus is they are use to Indy cars blasting by on oval tracks at 200mph with only concrete walls. They expect the same of the F1 cars and see no reason not to continue with their sub par barriors.

    1. Actually Indycar has been using Tecpro and Safer barriers for many years, they adopted and developed the technology way before F1 even thought about using it.

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