Kerb, Losail International Circuit, 2023

“Floor-destroyer” kerbs and track limits a concern for drivers in Losail

Formula 1

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The steep kerbs at the Losail International Circuit could cause a lot of damage to any cars which run too wide, drivers have said ahead of this weekend’s race.

Formula 1 has returned to the Qatari circuit for the first time in two years. The venue has been overhauled since then but the steep kerbs which caused problems for some drivers in 2021 remain.

“I think it’s a floor-destroyer track, for sure,” said AlphaTauri’s Yuki Tsunoda.

“Driving on the kerb won’t be an issue,” he explained. “But once you step out from the kerb, it’s going to be like a completely sliding effect. The step seems not that smooth at all.”

Running wide at the exit of a corner will carry a high penalty, said Tsunoda. “Especially driving here with such high-speed corners, where the car is really low, even [running wide] one time will be pretty costly, I think.”

F1’s technical regulations have changed since the series last raced at the circuit. The sophisticated floors cars now feature could easily be damaged by Losail’s kerbs which rise up to three centimetres above the track surface in places.

“In the pictures they look really aggressive,” said Tsunoda. “All the engineers were concerned about it, I think all the teams.”

However other drivers pointed out there may be no longer be a potential benefit to running wide onto the kerbs as there was two years ago when the track limits rules were enforced differently. Since 2022 drivers have faced losing their lap times if they go beyond the white line at the edge of the track.

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“It all depends on the track limits because we might not go there if there’s the track limits,” said Carlos Sainz Jnr.

Losail International Circuit track map, 2021
Track data: Losail International Circuit
“But at the same time the white line being [so] wide and the cars being so wide and the lack of visibility we have, plus the speeds that we do here, I think we’re going to be talking about track limits more than actual ‘kerb destroyers’.“

Alexander Albon also suspects track limits “might be a thing, I reckon, around here.”

Nonetheless the track layout has won praise from some drivers, in particular the interlinked medium and high-speed corners towards the end of the lap.

“I do feel this track has quite a lot of character in a way,” said Pierre Gasly, who qualified on the front row when F1 raced here two years ago. “It’s very twisty.

“I do like the high-speed section, coming to turn, 14, 15, because 14 was almost flat-out, it’s just on the edge of being flat-out. It’s really a corner where you really maximising the load of the car and the Gs you’re feeling there.

“So it’s a nice challenge, especially coming into the qualifying. And then the one that followed, the left corner is the same, it’s a very high-high speed one. So coming after that triple-right, is probably my favourite section of the track.

“The rest is very twisty, medium-speed, very flowing where you can carry a lot of speed, be quite smooth with your lines. So I do feel as a track, I do feel it does have quite a particular and unique touch.”

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Keith Collantine
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20 comments on ““Floor-destroyer” kerbs and track limits a concern for drivers in Losail”

  1. They will simply have to get used to those curbs, as having a natural penalty for track limits is the whole point.
    As for circuit sections, the fast triple-right combination & even the penaltimate corner added into the mix in S3 is what I like the most.

    1. Coventry Climax
      5th October 2023, 18:44

      Sorry, I’m for the ‘natural punishment’, but I don’t agree in this case.
      Running wide where there’s a gravel trap or grass and/or an escape route, if you manage to get back on track, you’ve lost a lot of time maybe and rightfully so, but having damage means you’ll lose a lot of time for each and all of the remaining laps of the race. Not sure whether that’s proportional to the offense. Plus there might be a luck factor introduced there, where some somehow come away unscathed, whereas others, with the same offense, sustain massive damage. I know the FiA is after this unpredictability thing, but I don’t like that. It should be consistent and the same for everyone.

      1. I’ve often wondered if they could put some sort of rubbery projections onto the run off areas so that someone going wide risks damaging bits of front wing which can be replaced, but has a significant natural penalty. I’ve also wondered if they could have some sticky gubbins on the run off area so that cars running wide get grubby tires and it takes them a lap or two to clean up.

        1. AlanD Yes, like the brown-ish surface material used in Bahrain, which I’m surprised isn’t used anywhere else despite being both effective & safe.

          1. @Jere. Thank you. I wasn’t aware of the brown stuff at Bahrain but next time they race there I’ll pay attention to it.

      2. Coventry Climax Armco & concrete walls on temporary circuits are even more car-damaging than uneven curbs.

        1. Coventry Climax
          6th October 2023, 14:16

          @Jerejj Sorry, but that’s fully besides the point, as the talk was on running wide over curbs and damaging your floor.
          It’s wasn’t about narrow circuits, crashing into walls and not having your car survive.

  2. A big kerb isn’t that scary. Miami has big walls if you run too wide, and all 20 cars managed to finish there.

    1. Neil, which year was it that all 20 cars finished in Miami? I don’t remember that. I remember for years and years that a Dutch GP was the only F1 race ever where all cars finished, but then it happened again in the more modern era. I cannot remember where that was, but Miami doesn’t ring any bells. Was Miami that second time, or was there another one somewhere? Anyone?

      1. This year. All 20 cars finished, and just two were a lap down.

      2. Various other races with all cars finishing; Spain this year, three further in 2021 alone. It’s not that uncommon anymore.

        1. I suppose it being more common now means it doesnt get mentioned any more. It shows how much more reliable cars are, and maybe how they are a bit more bulletproof too. There was a time when hitting the kerbs or banging wheels would break the suspension. Mostly it must be improvements in engine reliability though. I wonder how much of that is due to better engineering, and how much is due to the engine usage cap meaning they have to run them more gently.

  3. Losail is an awful track and Qatar is a terrible place. I’m not looking forward to this weekend at all. Why hold a sprint race here of all places? Also why hold sprint races so late in the season? It’s quite anticlimactic for the WDC to be decided at losail of all places, let alone during a sprint race at losail. They probably can’t even drink champagne on the podium because the country is run by religious fanatics.

    Instead of French GP we get this? Instead of Hockenheim we get Saudi Arabia? F1 as guests of the hacksaw wielding tyrant. Good look F1. I read an article yesterday that an American woman was just released from two months in a UAE prison because she tapped a police officer on the arm. Her crime was being a woman. F1 doesn’t have a place racing in these repressive Stone Age countries to begin with, never mind the boring races. F1 should stop selling out to these Stone Age tyrants and keep racing in places where the whole world is welcome to participate in life.

    1. The circuit is nicely flowing & nothing wrong with holding sprints in the late-season phase.

      1. Coventry Climax
        6th October 2023, 14:20

        True. It’s just that I don’t agree with them awarding World Grand Prix Championship points for it.
        Those should be handed out at Grand Prix and Grand Prix only.

        1. It’s not called the “World Grand Prix Championship” though.
          It’s called the “FIA Formula One World Championship.”

    2. If that happened to be a black women in the US, should have been shot dead by the cops.

    3. Yes, instead of France & Germany you get Qatar, because that’s where the money is now.

      Very little tax compared to taxation-insane Europe, where everyone is now expected to shoot themselves in both feet over the new climate religion. All that happens is that Europe strangles itself while other parts of the world will keep developing… they are hardly “stone age” anymore. Europe was rich once, but now Europe wants to become stone age once again.

      F1 seems to be breathing fine – no problem flying over the entire world while poor Europeans are going nowhere at all and are now permanently priced out of homes and cars. Why would F1 not look elsewhere?

      F1 goes where it is welcome and where there’s plenty of money.
      Europe wants to tax everything to an early grave – a classic case of “be careful what you ask for, you may get it”.

    4. It’s generally a good idea to hold the sprints at ‘bad’ tracks – the most exciting part of a race is the start afterall, so you’ll at least get some action…

  4. Great news – if you respect the kerbs, they will respect you. Simple!

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