“Not the safest”: F1 drivers unhappy with change to turn one barrier

2023 Canadian Grand Prix

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Formula 1 drivers are unhappy with the alteration made to the turn one barrier at the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve for this year’s race.

The run-off area opposite the turn one kink previously led directly back onto the circuit after turn two, across a strip of asphalt. However for this year’s event a new concrete barrier has been installed, denying drivers the opportunity to rejoin the track with minimal time loss.

As a result, drivers who have gone off at the corner have experimented with different ways of rejoining the track. Some have turned around sharply, losing a lot of time by rejoining early in turn two. Others have rejoined the track closer to the barrier.

Esteban Ocon said he accepts the reason for the barrier’s introduction but isn’t convinced it’s a change for the better.

“I understand a little bit the safety issue that there is behind it, that if you lose the brakes, you can T-bone another car in front,” he said. “So that’s one way to see it.

“But at the moment, it makes it difficult to to rejoin to the other side of the track because it’s a very narrow angle. So things to review for next year but we and the FIA are aware of of the compromise.”

Pierre Gasly, Alpine, Circuit Gilles Villeneuve, 2023
Gasly also found it difficult to rejoin at turn two
Lando Norris expects the barrier to be changed more quickly than that, saying yesterday “it shall be changing tonight from what I’ve heard, and I pray to god that it does.”

His team mate Oscar Piastri is one of the drivers who has experienced the difficulty of rejoining the circuit after going off at that point on the track.

“I had one trip through the grass myself and it was not the safest of regions, even with the best I could,” he said. “I’ve seen some of the other attempts to follow and it’s quite incredible. So I hope the wall goes.”

George Russell, who is a director of the Grand Prix Drivers’ Association, is unhappy they were not consulted on the change before it was made.

“We all spoke about that last night, in hindsight we probably should have been consulted about the views on that before decisions were made and we all agreed that it’s sub-optimal.”

Update: Pictures: FIA tweaks turn one barrier following complaints from drivers

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2023 Canadian 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...
Claire Cottingham
Claire has worked in motorsport for much of her career, covering a broad mix of championships including Formula One, Formula E, the BTCC, British...

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10 comments on ““Not the safest”: F1 drivers unhappy with change to turn one barrier”

  1. More difficult rejoin and T-bone protection are both positives in my book.

    1. Maybe. Though I read it as ‘more difficult to rejoin safely’, but I accept this may be an interpretation on my part. And I appreciatte that this does not detract from the possible T-bone issue.

      It’s a tricky one though as – given the two options presented – it appears to be a choice between less likely, but still possible major incidents, and more frequent but potentially less significant events.

      1. It’s a tricky one though

        Looks like a bit of work is required if they want to stop people shortcutting, so not an overnight solution.

        Maybe dig up the tarmac at the (currently barriered) rejoin point and grass it up. (Got to keep the green quotient)
        Provide a new length of tarmac to allow cars to tail in after corner 2 and force a slow-down in the escape channel.

        Basically, if you’re off at 1 you can’t rejoin until after 2 so no T-bone possible.

      2. more difficult to rejoin safely

        @cairnsfella That has indeed been the complaint.

        @proesterchen There’s a difference between a more difficult rejoin and a less safe one.

        The issue has been that having to turn to avoid the new wall as well as bouncing over the grass and kerb has resulted in cars having to rejoin onto the racing line and at times basically with there cars blocking the track as they don’t have enough steering lock at those angles to rejoin in a safer way. And again having to go over the grass (In the wet) and raised kerb on the rejoin means they also have less control due to less grip and the car bouncing off the kerb. And remember also that at that rejoin angle driver would have had zero visibility of any cars coming around T1/2.

        With the way it was before you could easily rejoin well off the racing line on the inside of the T2 exit which was safer for everyone.

        I think if they want to keep a wall there they need to have a safer way for cars to rejoin around it because the way it’s been this weekend has been less safe and more problematic in that regard.

      3. It has always been easy to rejoin safely, but the problem is that this often requires slowing down and perhaps even waiting. None of the drivers want this, so they come up with all sorts of reasons to complain; and they know that citing safety concerns usually works.

  2. Perhaps the drivers would prefer a broken mess of a car spinning uncontrollably across the Turn 2 exit, completely unsighted by them?
    They just can’t seem to help themselves – every little thing requires them to state their displeasure and say everything is unsafe, when it’s actually more safe than it was before.
    If F1 was as safe as they appear to want it to be, they’d immediately complain that it is boring and unsatisfying.

    With the barrier set up as it currently is, it forces anyone who leaves the track at Turn 1 to rejoin safely, and makes it immediately obvious when they try to do it unsafely in a rush.
    Yep, they’ll lose time and positions – so learn how to stay on the track.

  3. I partly agree with the complaints, as there is no way to rejoin safely now.

    Then again, you probably should not make a mistake there in the first place: if you can’t stay on the track, simple solution is to drive slower. And if there was a barrier there instead of tarmac run-off, we would not have this problem.

    1. @kaiie
      You could argue that there IS a way to rejoin safely. The driver in question just needs to let cars pass until there is a clear spot in traffic. They don’t want to do that, so that is why they are moaning

  4. No point in complaining now – the drivers had ample opportunity to rejoin safely in the past but they just straight-lined the turn, floored it across the runoff and rejoined dangerously. A barrier has been put in place because without it, the drivers will continue as they have done previously.

    Every year, at least one car goes straight across the runoff at the start – it gets you away from potential contact with other cars and you lose no time. This year, it’s not an option so instead of giving up immediately, they’ll all at least attempt to remain on the track. Same as turn 1 at Spa where they all went wide but now there’s gravel on the exit, they’re suddenly, miraculously able to keep the car on the track.

  5. Adding/extending the barrier into the grass edge was a good move to avoid short-cutting a la Alonso in 2007, Rosberg in ’16, & Ocon in ’17 & I don’t really see a safety issue either.

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