Hellaflush Subarus aren’t the only cars on earth who fear going over speedbumps. Formula One cars hate them, too, as they have a lot of intricate bits that just love to break off and high-tech lightweight chassis that weren’t designed for sweet jumps. Now Formula One is using speedbumps to discourage racers from cutting certain corners and I’m not sure this is a good idea.
Fifty-millimeter-high speed bumps have been placed inside the left-hand curbs of Turn 1 and Turn 2 at Mexico City’s Autódromo Hermanos Rodríguez, with a series of additional bumps placed between Turns 2 and 3, reports Motorsport.com.
A note sent by F1 race director Charlie Whiting to teams explains that these car-breakers have been installed for “safety reasons.” As quoted by Motorsport.com:
For safety reasons, any driver who either passes to the left of or runs over the orange kerb sections on the driver’s left between Turns 1 and 2, or who passes to the left of the bollard on the apex of Turn 2, must re-join the track by driving around the end of the orange kerb sections on the driver’s left between Turns 2 and 3.
Additional big orange speed bumps have been placed between Turns 8 and 11 to route cars further away from an easy shortcut if they go off-track there. Whiting’s note continued:
For safety reasons, any driver whose car passes completely behind the kerb on the apex of Turn 8 must re-join the track by keeping wholly to the right of the orange kerb parallel to the track on the exit of the corner.
For safety reasons, any driver whose car passes completely behind the kerb on the apex of Turn 11 must rejoin the track by keeping wholly to the left of the orange kerb parallel to the track on the exit of the corner.
But is it really all that safe? Force India driver Esteban Ocon is all but certain this will damage cars who go off and hit the bumps, telling Motorsport.com:
No one wants to go off, but it is a bit harsh. It is dangerous. You are going to launch and I think it’s not going to stay like this.
I think if someone hits that they will have to make a chassis change.
Formula One cars aren’t set up to make sweet jumps, despite the fact that I’d love to see that happen. Too hard of a landing and you will break the car.
Haas driver Romain Grosjean also criticized the placement of the bumps to Motorsport.com:
Turn 1, there is a slight issue in that you can’t rejoin the track. You don’t want to go there. There is no route bringing you back to the track. That needs to be thought about.
There’s another tricky one, which is Turn 7. If you go wide there, you have to come back around an orange bit, it’s pretty narrow. But the rest works.
Mind you, not all offs are racers trying to sneak an illegal pass. Some go off to deal with a mechanical issue with the car, or to avoid a collision on track. What then? You’re just going to be hosed if you have to go off at these few corners in Mexico?
That being said, Formula One cracking down on track limits right now is more than understandable, even if installing these car-destroying lumps off-track doesn’t sound like the right answer.
Last weekend, Max Verstappen made a controversial off-track pass to nab third place in Austin only to have that podium finish taken away when race stewards penalized him for it after the race. Drivers pointed to unpenalized four-offs from during the race as examples of inconsistent enforcement, however, Whiting dismissed those claims to Motorsport.com, saying that Verstappen’s was the lone example of an off that gave a driver a lasting advantage in the race. Fans were even worse about it, sending death threats to race steward Mika Salo.
So, it’s not hard to understand why F1 would want to crack down on track limits. Last year’s Mexican Grand Prix saw Lewis Hamilton cut through the grass in Turn 1 and kept his lead, and Max Verstappen made a similar shortcut to defend against Sebastian Vettel. Verstappen was penalized directly after that race as well, losing his third place podium finish when stewards called foul at using the run-off to defend his position.
F1 doesn’t want to deal with the same crapstorm two weeks in a row, should a track limits penalty tweak the result. So, they’re opting to simply break anyone’s car who tries it with big bumps. Hope no one tries it! That’ll be a mess.