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!