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F1 should reconsider run-off/gravel trap balance - Wurz

F1 should reconsider run-off/gravel trap balance - Wurz
Co-author: Oleg Karpov

Formula 1 tracks should seek better ways of blending the use of asphalt run- offs and gravel traps at different parts of corners reckons former Formula 1 driver Alex Wurz.

The Austrian, who is chairman of the Grand Prix Drivers' Association (GPDA), reckons that a new way of thinking could help steer motor racing away from using sausage kerbs as an off-track deterrent.

Speaking in the wake of Alex Peroni's terrifying F3 crash over the Italian Grand Prix weekend, Wurz said that different types of run-off treatment should be used at corner entry and corner exits.

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"You can see interviews of mine for many years which say that I am not a fan of asphalt run-off areas," Wurz told

"I think asphalt run-off areas at certain parts of the corners are extremely efficient, extremely safe and good. But we have gone far beyond that. We have placed asphalt run-off areas on corner exits, where I would have still preferred gravel. Some corner exits [should be] grass.

"On corner entry, where usually you have issues with things breaking and you are coming from high speed, then an asphalt run-off area is quite good.

"Sometimes gravel in these situations is actually dangerous, like you saw in Melbourne with [Fernando] Alonso, who slid sideways into gravel. Then you fly into the air, so we lose control of the car even more.

"But on corner exits, after you are down to your minimum speed, with any trajectory towards the run-off, I would think on 80 percent of solutions that asphalt is just too much."

Wurz admits that finding the perfect solution is not easy, but he thinks the time has come for a more detailed look at individual corners to work out what works best for all categories of racing.

"For the track operator, for everyday business, asphalt run-off areas are great. If you have the Porsche club, and if the amateur spins off, [he] doesn't damage his car in the gravel, and you don't have a half an hour red flag until you get someone out. But this is where you – as F1, as a track operator – have to decide.

"There is no easy solution here, but slowly and surely everyone is getting onboard of the message that we have to think of solutions. There are solutions.

"As a businessman in track design I am not disclosing them publicly, but I am getting very close to say 'OK, screw the business, we have to help the industry". That means step by step, corner by corner, and every corner is different because of styles and trajectory unique to each corner."

Wurz says the GPDA has been active in recent years in trying to help find solutions that work best, and believes that sausage kerbs are a big problem.

"We had yet another example of a sausage kerb ill placed, causing a massive accident. We've saw one in Spa few years ago in GP3 [when Konstantin Tereschenko crashed].

"They reacted, and this sausage kerb is hidden now under a slow ramp, which would not propel the car into the air. But Monza was another example [that] those solutions are not good."

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Series Formula 1
Author Jonathan Noble