F1 » 13 June 2012
Whiting explains Rosberg, Bahrain decisions
The point that there was a wall involved prompted the question as to whether circuits had become too safe, and were now encouraging drivers to take greater risks when it came to attacking or defending in overtaking manoeuvres, and Whiting accepted that, in some cases, that may be the case.
"Probably, but not consciously perhaps," he mused, "It's the same as the risks they take when they're driving. They probably do more because they know that the worst that could happen to them is to spin off into a vast expanse of asphalt.
"There are two things we need to think about there. Normally, and I think Bahrain is the exception to the rule, the track verges, as in the edges of the track, are grass. The run-off areas are the parts straight on around the outside of a corner. I think I'm right in saying that there are no other circuits [apart from Bahrain] with asphalt for verges. It would have been a whole different story if Lewis would have kept his foot in and used the grass instead of the asphalt in Bahrain. He would have lost downforce, grip, he would have lost everything on the grass. I don't think Nico would have done anything different had it been grass, I think it's the driver behind who would have done something different.
"There are lots of manoeuvres that drivers probably wouldn't contemplate if there weren't the big run-off areas. If we go back to [Alain] Prost and [Ayrton] Senna in Suzuka, there's no way they would have engaged in those things if there'd been a wall at that part of the track. That's an extreme, of course, but the principle is there in my opinion.
"It is, I suppose, an unintended consequence of having much safer cars and much safer tracks, but that's what the stewards are there for. If you think a driver has deliberately forced another driver off track, and we go back again to Nico and Lewis, that was a very close call for the stewards. Did he force him off or not? If he'd got halfway alongside and you'd forced the guy over, then you'd be nicked, despite how safe the track is or how safe the cars are.
"I'd like to think drivers didn't think that. I'm sure they take more risks when it comes to trying to do a quick lap, when they've got open expanses of run-off area. That's inevitable. I think lap times around Monaco would be a bit quicker if there was no guardrail there, you know? But I don't think that they do anything that they shouldn't do and, even if they did, they'd be nicked. It wouldn't matter how big the verges or the run-off areas are, whether it is grass, asphalt or gravel. If the move is wrong, it is wrong."
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