The Kerb (curb) Police have arrived at Spa Francorchamps

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As the Formula 1 series resumes its season—after a 3-week summer break—it does so at one of the most iconic circuits left on the F1 calendar. The Belgian Grand Prix boasts one of the most challenging and visually stunning circuits in the world and it is often described as a driver and fan favorite year-on-year when such inquiries are offered.

What sets the Spa Francorchamps circuit apart is that it is an imperfect circuit and that makes it, well, perfect! No 45 degree turns, silly stadium sections and 6-mile run-off’s at play here. It’s a track that beckons an era that defined F1 and its indelible mark on the sport is visible for everyone to see.

Still, no matter how good this circuit is—a bad or boring race here is often times better than a good race elsewhere—it is still coming under the close inspection this year from apparently what has become a new group within the FIA and I will call them the Track Limits or Kerb Police.

The 2016 season has been mired by the FIA’s trenchant position on track limits and ushered in draconian measures such as sausage curbs and massive bumps which beget cries over safety for their impact on cars traveling over these deterrents at high rates of speed. It’s a damned if you do, damned if you don’t scenario for the FIA.

How to neuter Raidillon so that drivers won’t take too much of the curb and gain an advantage? Just when the FIA feel they’ve added the right curbing to deter this heinous act of taking a lot of curb, the oppressive and thunderous voice of the all-mighty SAFETY trump card comes in to play with an article at Motorsport I read using the Euroformula Open series crash but Nikita Zlobin as a reason these measures are not safe.

This quest to completely inoculate F1 from any danger at all is a noble charter but it’s not realistic and in my opinion it is starting to get onerous on every circuit. The FIA are trying to remove gained advantages from taking a lot of curb and on newer circuits, you can see the effect of the massive run-off areas but something tells me Spa is a little different. Trying to prevent drivers from taking too much curb at Raidillon so they don’t get an advantage down the Kemmel Straight seems a bit tedious to me.

To be fair to the FIA, if curbs are low, drivers are placing all four wheels over the white line and completely cutting the entire corner by doing so and I understand the need to prevent that. Curbs are there to be taken but not completely disregarded. I feel their concern for sure but each attempt to make corner-cutting a punitive action, the safety trump card pummels the FIA into submission. They are worn thin by their own mission statement of safety. That’s a tough situation to be sure.

According to Motorsport, there have been changes made to Spa at the exit of turn 7 and turn 15. The small curbing they placed at Raidillon has been criticized but in the end, it’s a tough situation. You can see where the pragmatic amongst F1 pundits hear the issue and then start over-engineering solutions to remedy the situation by picking the fly poop out of the pepper and micromanaging the situation through sensors, penalties and more making F1 even more difficult to follow and tedious to understand. IT seems now that corner sensors are the favored solution and I wonder if they’ve considered the fan at home who is told that their favorite driver has to serve a penalty or get 15 seconds added to his time for cutting a curb back on lap 7 at Raidillon. Wheeee! This is FUN!

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Juan Ramos
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Juan Ramos

If they insist in having Tilkedroms and putting asphalt where there was grass in real tracks the sensor idea might not be that bad as long as is implement correctly: instant punishment by automatic lose of a percentage of power in the engine for a fixed amount of time. But my bet is FIA will do something like time added at the end of the race or the next pit stop at discretion of the stewards and unspecified penalties in order to continue using it as a mean of control of the teams and promoting corruption.

StephenB.
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StephenB.

If they use corner cutting sensors they need to give the drivers a chance to prevent a penalty. For the corners in question maybe find the optimum amount of time gained by cutting the kerb and give a driver the opportunity to go “100% off throttle” on the same lap for X amount of time (a second or two, honestly) to negate any advantage gained. The last thing I want to sit through is a good race ruined by a silly rule, brought on by a safety committee who didn’t see the downsides of paving everything. Give a racer an… Read more »

Paul Riseborough
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Paul Riseborough

Give them a chance? Why? If they clipped wall or got stuck in a gravel trap their race would be over. I vote for an immediate drive through penalty for each infringement. Apply it automatically, no excuses.

Member

Spa hasn’t been the same since they took the original Bus Stop chicane.

Pear Bear
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Pear Bear

Agreed. Bring back the Bus Stop!

Dennis Jeremiah
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Dennis Jeremiah

If it is a race conducted on a track, the track limits should be followed. Rule should be consistent and enforced on every driver, whether fighting for podium or running last. All the new crop of drivers including Hamilton, Vettel, try to gain time or advantage by cutting corners. 10 years back this was not the case. Before anyone wants to argue about this, please watch the footage of races held before 2005/6.

MIE
Editor

When Nigel Mansell was racing, so before 1993, he used to regularly drive well off the track at La Source, running right up to the barrier. It is a lot further but more than compensated by the extra speed he could carry through the corner that was a much larger radius than that defined by the circuit.

Dennis Jeremiah
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Dennis Jeremiah

If there is no meaning for track limits, it will be easy to create a race venue. Build a square or round concrete block and place traffic cones. Drivers will be free to do whatever and wherever they want to do. Just let the audience know at the end who won the race. Tracks are built for a purpose, interesting or boring it may seem, drivers have to drive on the track and not off it.