Sebastian Vettel, Ferrari, Monza, 2019

Gravel could return at Parabolica to prevent repeat of Vettel Q3 controversy

2019 Italian Grand Prix

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Gravel run-offs could be restored at parts of Monza’s Parabolica corner in an effort to prevent a repeat of last weekend’s controversy over whether one of Sebastian Vettel’s lap times should be deleted.

Vettel’s first run in Q3 was allowed to stand after the stewards admitted they could not establish with certainty whether he had gone beyond the track limits at the exit of the high-speed corner.

The corner is bordered by asphalt, which replaced the grass and gravel run-off in 2014, to the concern of many drivers at the time. FIA race director Michael Masi says restoring a gravel run-off could be part of the solution to enforcing track limits at the exit of the corner.

“From what I understand that’s the way that it used to be many moons ago,” he said. “We’ve just got to look at it all. Is it bringing gravel back, is it having a double kerb and gravel, is it grass, all of the various solutions that we’ve got available and it’s having a look at all of it.”

Masi said another solution could be to keep the track as it is but add an electronic timing loop similar to that used at Raidillon at Spa to automatically detect if a driver has gone too wide.

“Is it that the solution we’ve got is actually the best solution in the circumstances and let’s put a few timing loops and if anyone exceeds it, it pops up on the screen and its done? I wouldn’t discount anything.

“It’s not as simple as just saying ‘yep, bang, let’s fix that’. There’s a whole lot of various inputs and factors that need to be looked at.”

A new solution will be looked at ahead of next year’s race, Masi added. “Probably for next year if there are changes made we’ll look at it with our safety department and the circuit inspectors, do the various simulations and have a discussion with the circuit as well.

“For me that’s a sort of prime area where you possibly put timing loops similar to what we have at Spa. That way it’s just automatic.”

“Anything that can be automated makes all of our lives far easier,” he added.

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Dieter Rencken
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45 comments on “Gravel could return at Parabolica to prevent repeat of Vettel Q3 controversy”

  1. Instead of gravel they should use crumbly tarmac used at the end of airstrips. One of the arguments against gravel is that its doesnt slow down cars, maybe the tarmac should slow down the cars significantly and there wont be any need of kerbs which caused the crash in F3.

    1. Speaking of that Kerb, what were the track designers thinking?

      I really don’t see how they could in all conscience have placed that sussage kerb where they did without predicting it would lead to a crash. All this after last week’s fatality.

      This isn’t just about the driver in full control of the car seeking an advantage out wide, but the driver who might find themselves running wide due to mechanical issues, slap bang into that precariously positioned kerb. Really stupid.

  2. Alternatively you could look at a picture of Vettel with all four wheels off the track.

    1. I guess that is too easy for F1. But wholly agree.

      Let Vettel stand in front of what we all say and explain how that is driving within track limits when all areas of contact (i.e. the tyre tread) was outside of the white lines.

      1. It was caused by a classic case of F1 rule inconsistency. Regulations are that all four tyres must be within the white lines, but the technical directive specifically for this race rules that all four wheels must be within the white lines. The side on shot showed all four tyres outside the white line, but because the right front is the unloaded tyre, its contact patch is reduced within the width of the wheel, and when viewed from top down, the wheels are inside. Loose interpretations of poorly written regulations are the DNA of the sport!

        1. Stop making so much sense!

        2. I am not sure that makes a whole lot of sense. The tyres were clearly not inside the white lines. Maybe part of the tyre could have been shown to be on the white line but that is not within it. His tyre looked like it was at least an inch outside of the line which means the tyre would have to Bulge out by a significant amount. They have not shown the image from above as far as I can tell, unless someone can point us to it. Why was this not widely shown in order to explain the issue? Because if it does exist then it would put the situation to bed, if it does not exist then I am suspicious of why it would not.

          1. This article on Autosport explains it better. The tyres do bulge a significant amount, especially when the tyre is under heavy load as they are in parabolica. I do not know if the top down image has been made public.

    2. LOL)

      For some reason I imagined a Meme with this photo and Stewards looking at it and giving Vettel a “benefit of doubt”

    3. The one that does not exist.
      This title is so clickbait, hateful really. Gravel is safer that’s why it should return to where it was. Gravel or other similar material.

      1. Actually gravel is not safer, that is why it was removed at the first place.

        1. @john-h actually it was partially removed so cars going wide don’t get gravel rash.

    4. Alternatively actually enforce rules on the red cars at Monza in general.

  3. Kerbs are no longer kerbs, they are simply an extension of the track. Double kerbs are doubly-pointless. They are not a solution to this problem.

    A strip of grass or gravel should be placed where cars naturally track-out to define track limits and end this pointless week-in, week-out debate.

    No-one is interested in watching drivers race against painted lines regulated by GPS tracking data. Hence why no one is interested in watching F1 at Paul Ricard.

    1. A strip of grass or gravel should be placed where cars naturally track-out to define track limits and end this pointless week-in, week-out debate

      @aussierod I keep wondering why they haven’t bothered with this solution. It just seems so logical (maybe that’s why 😜). The only things I can think of are either:
      -once the car breaks traction and starts to spin that the grass on the tyre takes away some of the benefit of having tarmac runoff?
      -a “lip” at the edge of the track that might be a hazard when tracks are used for bikes?

    2. Here Here! Also there is considerable fun watching cars bounce off curbs (Not the way that F3 car did), proper execution, bending around the corner, riding just enough curb to get away with it. It is wonderful.

  4. I would be much more concerned about fixing Parabolica to prevent accidents like Alex Peroni’s.

    1. They did that

      1. True, but they still dismissed it as a freak accident afterwards, when it was clearly bad design. Hopefully they take the opportunity to remove sausage kerbs in high-speed corners from other circuits.

        1. Can’t believe the lack of logic in putting it there in the first place. They’re lucky that it didn’t happen in F2 or F1, with the higher cornering speeds I dread to think what could have happened

    2. This was the fix to Parabolica. Didn’t you like it? For a second or so, Peroni was safe mid-air.

      Tarmac run-offs increases corner speeds, because you can go wide unpunished. I hope someone at FIA will finally get this.

  5. Putting dirt where you don’t want the drivers to be just makes so much sense.
    But, for inexplicable reasons, there seems to be a strong lobby for the “zero tolerance for track limits” approach, which, like all populist claims, claims to be the only sensible opinion, but really is rubbish when you look a bit more closely. It inevitably ends in situations like the one we saw on Saturday: A team of (presumably) highly qualified individuals spends the entire afternoon staring at slo-mos of white paint on tarmac to determine whether a car has drifted a millimetre too far or not, whether a driver is a hero or a zero. All this ado just to (largely arbitrarily) punish drivers for poor track design.
    I couldn’t think of anything less racing-like for the life of me.

    1. I understand you, but tarmac runoffs does have other advantages, especially for bikes. So we should find natural track limits without the disadvantages of gravel or grass.

    2. @Nase
      I’m in agreement with you. The brave drivers should be able to hang the car at the very limit. If a driver can place 2 wheels on gravel and 2 on tarmac or even all four on gravel and set a fast time, Bravo.
      The circuits are now or have turned out to be poorly designed because the cars continue to perform better and better but there is limited scope for the tracks to improve alongside the cars.

      1. The thing is, the gravel traps used to be there and were removed. So it is nothing to do with tracks not being able to keep up, it is dumb FIA regulations and pressure.

  6. I think the idea of timing loops is a good one. In fact, I’d go so far as to say put timing loops on all the track limits and add an automatic penalty if they are exceeded. Personally, I’d favour a new type of penalty (maybe a restriction on MGU-K deployment for a set time?) over time penalties.

    These are the best drivers in the world. They could drive within track limits if they wanted, and they wouldn’t purposely exceed them if there was no advantage.

    1. Timing loops introduces another level of complication just like you highlighted and also introduces costs and is another potential for failure. The track should by itself be self policing, I don’t think its a good idea placing timing loops and infraction cameras all over the track giving stewards unnecessary overhead watching cars go over the same point lap after lap.

      1. Indeed, I mean there is never any controversy at Monaco with regard to drivers exceeding track limits…

        1. ;-) awesome

        2. COTD candidate right here.

    2. Nothing annoys me more about F1 than people claiming drivers don’t get an advantage by going wide. The advantage is that you can be more aggressive knowing that if you get it wrong, you’re safe.

      It’s like tightrope walking quickly between two buildings 500ft up vs doing the same an inch off the ground. You’d do the latter much more quickly because if it went wrong, you’d be ok.

  7. Simple solutions are always the best.
    An island of gravel about a car’s width or slight less immediately bothering the edge of the track and then asphalt at the other end of the gravel ensures the outcome may be the driver hitting the barrier but with enough braking room to slow down the impact. Because the initial moments after a track excursion at speed is when a driver has the opportunity to save the car from making contact with the barrier.

  8. A small carbon fiber cable making contact with an electronic ‘timing’ loop of around 25000 volts should do the trick…low amps of course :)

  9. Put in a timing loop. Then use telemetry to turn on a flashing light on top of the car that will stay on the rest of the race, oh, and an “ahh-oogha” horn also.

    1. Hmmm, I put “sarc” after that, but it didn’t publish. Maybe because I put it in

      1. Well, I’ve found two characters that won’t publish! LOL

  10. Surely they could still have a strip of tarmac along the edge of the track but not wide enough to allow all four wheels to be off the circuit. No sausage kerb and then gravel or grass beyond this.

    Simple and effective I would have thought. There is no disincentive not to go wide at the moment and as others have said, the tarmac run off encourages faster speeds through the corner.

  11. I tried to find a photo of Sebastian going off the track at Parabolica, but strangely enough I couldn’t. Supposedly the Stewards had access to multiple camera angles, but … I’ve already wasted enough time looking.
    I took another look at the replays from my main F1 broadcast feed. The main onboard camera shows the front right as being just in contact with the white line. Okay, there is parallax error involved, but it does suggest the tyre was just in contact with White Line. So we are talking about maybe 2 centimetres at the most between his time being allowed and not allowed. 2 more centimetres to the left and his time would have definitely been annulled. I don’t believe if there were electromagnetic coils present they could have made a better determination.
    What should have been present were several more cameras overlooking that part of the track, but again we’re back in the situation where we need millimetre accuracy, and then one day those millimetres won’t be good enough …. On second thoughts, let’s do away with the need for millimetre accuracy and just accept that either Sebastian was still legally on the track or he was in a “grey zone” where we can’t tell whether he was or wasn’t off the track. As such, we accept this time was legitimate.

  12. Great news

  13. Memo to the FIA and FOM

    It’s 2019 not 1919. Timing loops have been in existence for years yet you still haven’t adopted this sort of technology for your “pinnacle of Motorsport “

    I cannot understand why we are even having discussions around track limits because frankly, the solution, and a foolproof one at that, has been available for years.

    I’m sure it’s been addressed in the proposed new sporting regulations hasn’t it?….

  14. Shanghai gravel is the best

  15. All this to solve a problem that has no reason to exist. The Sporting regulations say you can’t intentionally leave the circuit for any reason and it defines the circuit as between and including the white lines, it even specifically says the curbs don’t count as on the circuit, and it clarifies that a driver is deemed to have left the circuit if no part of the car is in contact with the white line.
    No need for sausage curbs, no need for astroturf, no need for gravel strips, just enforce the rules as their written.
    Leave the circuit during a quali lap, time deleted. Leave it during the race, black and white flag and then time penalties.
    You watch how well these “greatest drivers on Earth” will stick to within the white lines when crossing them will cost them races.
    If I can hold to that standard in a video game these great drivers could in multi million dollar race cars.

  16. .,.and have a discussion with the circuit as well.

    Wouldn’t that have a similar outcome as “talking to a brick wall”?

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