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FIA sees no issue with Hockenheim's drag strip run-off

FIA sees no issue with Hockenheim's drag strip run-off

Formula 1 race director Michael Masi believes there was nothing wrong with the controversial 'drag strip' area at the Hockenheim circuit, despite it being blasted as "unacceptable" by Charles Leclerc.

Leclerc was one of several drivers who found themselves in trouble after running wide at the final sequence of corners and skidding across a wet area of run-off.

Lewis Hamilton and Nico Hulkenberg both also crashed there, while Carlos Sainz, Kimi Raikkonen and Lando Norris all had incidents with the slippery area – that is used as part of the track's drag strip – holding rain water.

Masi was aware of the driver concerns about the situation and conducted a post-race inspection of the area, but he insisted it was no different to run-off areas at other tracks.

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"The drag strip looks fine," said Masi. "We inspected it the other day and had a look again post race with the water on it. It is fine.

"Even Sebastian [Vettel] is quoted as saying that it is normally one of the grippiest parts of the track and it is no different to any of the other painted run-off, to be quite honest.

"I think it was one of those ones where if put water on painted run-off then, as much as you can do anything to make sure it is anti slip paint, it is still more slippery than unpainted tarmac."

Asked if his main message for drivers was to not run off the circuit, Masi said: "Correct. It is called track limit controls!"

While the drag strip area came in for some criticism, Masi has said that drivers are normally more open to have run-off areas that punish them for mistakes – like there was in Austria.

"They may claim it is too dangerous but from our end, using the Austrian example, the drivers were all quite pleased with it, even with the bumps and that," he said.

"It punishes them for making mistakes and it was a similar way here. We saw the other implementation we had to do regarding Turn 1 with the track limits side.

"You are balancing it to a degree, but credit where it is due, all 20 drivers have been very consistent in their views that if they run off track there should be a consequences from doing it.

"Maybe straight after a race they may have a different view about the way it has affected them, but sitting down individually with them and as a group that has been consistent in their view and that hasn't changed."

Norris said he nearly crashed out of the race on his way to the grid after experimenting to see how much grip there was on the run off area.

"We have an onboard we have to watch, of one magic lap from Fernando [Alonso] when he was at Ferrari, and he goes two wheels onto the kerb onto the drag strip," explained Norris.

"On my lap to the grid I tried it, and I genuinely thought I was going to be out of the race before I'd even started. I pulled the clutch in, full opposite lock – and I'm not exaggerating, I shat myself. I was like "oh shit, this is not gonna be good."

"All the guys were waiting there to put me on my jacks and into position, and it was the biggest fright of my life.

"So yeah, from my side I knew that straight away, obviously I wasn't gonna tell anyone because I'll let them try it out, but every person that made a small mistake, lost it or understeered in the last two corners went onto the drag strip and you just see there's nothing you can do.

"It's probably quite dangerous to be honest, because you just don't slow down, there's tarmac run-off there that you're approaching at a decent speed. And once you hit it, you can't do anything. It's something I think needs to be changed for next time."

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About this article

Series Formula 1
Event German GP
Author Jonathan Noble