The F1 fraternity will find a subtly-changed Autodromo Carlos Pace when the 2011 ships up for its finale in November, after the Brazilian circuit was forced to act after another racing fatality earlier this month.
Former Formula Renault racer Gustavo Sondermann was killed during the opening round of the local Copa Chevrolet Montana series when he spun at the fast final kink leading onto the main straight and, having bounced back onto the track after hitting the retaining wall, was collected by another car. The 29-year old suffered a terminal brain haemorrhage as well as spinal injuries.
With the corner having also been the scene of a previous fatal accident involving Rafael Sperafico in 2007 and the infamous accident that red-flagged the 2003 Brazilian Grand Prix - where a young Fernando Alonso collected debris from Mark Webber's accident - circuit officials have now agreed to revise the run-off area adjacent to the corner to prevent a repeat.
“It's curved, uphill and, in the cockpit, we're right on the ground,” Webber explained, “We go through there in fifth or sixth gear at 220kph. The problem is that whoever is coming along can only see what's going on ahead when he's almost there.”
Although remedial work is compromised by the fact that there is a major highway not far from the corner, a section of grandstand will be removed and replaced with a run-off area that should mean that cars have room to slow down without hitting the wall and being catapulted back into the path of other competitors.
“I think there is no other recourse than the expansion of the run-off area for this corner,” CBA president Clayton Pinteiro told Agencia Estado
, before revealing that any work, which would comfortably be completed before Brazil's 27 November F1 date, needed to be cleared by both the FIA and local authorities.
Pinteiro confirmed that a request for an FIA inspection has been lodged with the governing body, and GPDA president Rubens Barrichello has said that the drivers will lobby for the changes to be approved.
“If [the track officials] need the [F1] drivers to talk with the FIA to change the corner, we will,” he told YallaF1