Just two weeks ago, Formula 1 raced in Sochi on a track where there was not a single gravel trap and certainly not a single blade of grass.
The circuit consists completely of asphalt run-off zones outside the race track limits. In Suzuka, the drivers can now expect the opposite. The traditional circuit is one of the places on the calendar that forgives the least amount of mistakes.
“That’s a great example of how it should be,” says Racing Point driver Sergio Pérez happily, explaining: “If you leave somewhere on the track, you pay a high price. I wish every track would be like this. The track is safe, but you have to respect it. When you leave the track, there’s a big accident. As a driver you like such tracks.”
On the other hand, Pérez is slightly annoyed by the subject of track limits. It’s a “never-ending story,” he declares, remembering: “Every year we have these unnecessary discussions. In Sochi, turn 2 had caused a lot of trouble. Kevin Magnussen received a penalty because he had left the track in that corner, and in Formula 2 there was even a violent accident.”
Indeed the incident has sparked off a possible punishment for team boss Gunther Steiner this weekend due to his outbursts against the driver steward in Sochi that could give him, or even the entire team, an unprecedented penalty. Read more on that here.
“I definitely expect the layout in turn 2 to change next year. Things like what happened in Formula 2 just look stupid. You have to change it,” Pérez demands and explains: “There is a rule that you have to bypass the bollard when you get off the track. Some respect that, others don’t, like in Formula 2 – and then there’s a crash.”
“But in the end, I think the turn is just wrong. There should be a natural penalty for people driving off the track – whether it’s gravel, grass or whatever. We’ve come to a point where we have to make changes,” says Pérez, who not only sees a need for change in Sochi – but in many places in the current Formula 1 calendar.
“Yes, definitely. We should have that more often,” team mate Lance Stroll also explains with regard to gravel beds and grass areas. For him, this also makes Suzuka “the best track in the world”. At the same time, he understands that MotoGP is often taken into account when choosing run-out zones. There they prefer asphalt surfaces.
“After all, they are on two wheels and we are sitting in a carbon cockpit. That’s why they make the decisions,” Stroll knows. Because the risks of a motorcycle crash are usually much higher than in a car accident.
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