No Concerns over Hockenheim’s Drag Strip Run-Off Despite Driver Criticisms – FIA

by Paul Hensby

FIA Race Director, Michael Masi, says that after a post-race inspection of the runoff area at the final couple of turns of the Hockenheimring circuit that there was nothing wrong with it, despite heavy criticism from Charles Leclerc.

Leclerc called the low-grip area, usually used as a drag strip at the German Grand Prix venue, ‘unacceptable’ as he skated off the track and into the barriers, with the Scuderia Ferrari driver not alone in having problems at the corner.  

Nico Hülkenberg also retired thanks to a crash whilst running fourth, while Lewis Hamilton, Kimi Räikkönen and Carlos Sainz Jr. were amongst those to have moments at the turn, although all were luckily able to continue.

Water appeared to collect on the top of the painted surface around the outside of the turn, meaning any driver who did happen to run wide was unable to steer or brake sufficiently to avoid either a crash or a lengthy spin, but Masi says the FIA have no concerns about it.

“The drag strip looks fine,” Masi is quoted as saying by Motorsport.com. “We inspected it the other day and had a look again post-race with the water on it. It is fine.

“Even Sebastian [Vettel] is quoted as saying that it is normally one of the grippiest parts of the track and it is no different to any of the other painted run-off, to be quite honest.

“I think it was one of those ones where if put water on painted run-off then, as much as you can do anything to make sure it is anti-slip paint, it is still more slippery than unpainted tarmac.”

Previously, drivers have wanted to have run-off areas that punished them for mistakes, with Masi insisting the wet run off area was just another reason for drivers to adhere to track limits. 

He also likened this to the Red Bull Ring, where gravel traps and big kerbs meant that running off track would punish a driver.

“They may claim it is too dangerous but from our end, using the Austrian example, the drivers were all quite pleased with it, even with the bumps and that,” said Masi.  “It punishes them for making mistakes and it was a similar way here. We saw the other implementation we had to do regarding Turn 1 with the track limits side.

“You are balancing it to a degree, but credit where it is due, all 20 drivers have been very consistent in their views that if they run off track there should be a consequences from doing it.

“Maybe straight after a race they may have a different view about the way it has affected them, but sitting down individually with them and as a group that has been consistent in their view and that hasn’t changed.”

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