Clutch issue now a safety concern, say F2 drivers

Several Formula 2 drivers have said the clutch of the championship's new car is making race starts dangerous following last weekend's Baku round.

Clutch issue now a safety concern, say F2 drivers
Jack Aitken, ART Grand Prix
Lando Norris, Carlin, Ralph Boschung, MP Motorsport
Ralph Boschung, MP Motorsport, Lando Norris, Carlin
George Russell, ART Grand Prix
Alexander Albon, DAMS leads the field on the green flag lap
Lando Norris, Carlin
Lando Norris, Carlin
Lando Norris, Carlin

The series has introduced its new-generation car for 2018, but the first two rounds of the season have been marred by clutch problems and many drivers stalling on their grid slots.

A lot of drivers were caught out in the Bahrain season opener, leading drivers to say it's a "gamble" whether someone can get off the line properly or not.

The issue escalated at Baku, where four drivers stalled at the start of the feature race and a further five in the sprint race, leading to further criticism of the "very sensitive" and "random" clutch.

When asked if the clutch had become a safety concern, points leader Lando Norris told Motorsport.com: "It is! People on the left side and the right side of the grid stalling, people are just swerving everywhere.

"Eventually you will get a guy at the back who has built up some speed and can’t avoid anything, and it’s going to be a big crash."

Renault F1 junior Jack Aitken, who stalled in both Baku races, told Motorsport.com: "From the back of the grid it is quite scary. I spoke to Louis Deletraz, he said exactly that [it's a safety issue].

"I think as well you don't want a championship to be decided by this kind of thing, a technical issue."

Alex Albon, who had "three really bad" starts so far this year and won the Baku feature race the one time he had a good one, said the drivers wanted to do practice starts prior to the weekend but were not allowed to.

"The main issue, even for this race weekend, we brought it up in the briefing, ‘can we at least do a practice start?’ and we weren’t allowed to," he recalled speaking to Motorsport.com.

"It’s a thing our team [DAMS] especially pushed a lot for, because we’re one of the teams that’s struggled most with it. We got told there’s no time for it, which is a shame because it’s more of a safety issue than anything else."

Albon added that while the main straight at Bahrain and Baku were wide enough, if the issue continues on narrow tracks such as Monaco, "absolute chaos" will be the result.

"We’ve gone to Bahrain and Baku, two of the widest straights we’ll go to," he said. "Imagine if this happens in Monaco, it’s going to be absolute chaos."

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