Daniel Ricciardo and Christian Horner have called on the FIA to consider re-installing gravel traps at certain corners to prevent drivers contentiously cutting corners without penalisation.
Gravel traps have been a feature of circuits for several decades, but have been steadily phased out by newer or revised venues opting to replace them with tarmac run-off areas to limit the prospect of cars 'digging' in and flipping, allowing cars to brake more easily before the barriers and speed up the process of car retrieval. It is also favoured by circuits that host motorcycle racing events.
However, in a year that has seen track limits become a frequent talking point amidst concerns drivers aren't deterred enough not to exceed the limit on kerbs, the Mexican Grand Prix brought the debate back to the fore after both Lewis Hamilton and Max Verstappen ran wide at turn one, took to the grass and re-joined at turn three without losing a position.
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Though Verstappen was penalised with a time penalty, Hamilton escaped punishment, much to the chagrin of several drivers who felt stewards should have looked into it.
Indeed, Ricciardo is frustrated circuits allow for mistakes to go unpunished by giving drivers to chance to get back on the power and straight line corners and would welcome the return of more gravel traps.
“I am a bit of a fan of gravel traps. It is a proper deterrent because even if you get through the gravel trap at some speed and don't lose a whole lot of time, you still have stuff in your radiators, so here is more of a penalty.
“I don't like that a driver can defend lock ups, or make a mistake whilst defending, cut through and continue. In the first corner with Lewis, I didn't think that was right. You make a mistake and the start of the race is a crucial moment and a mistake with so many cars around, you should pay the price.”
The furore comes fittingly on the weekend Bernie Ecclestone made controversial comments about 'track limits' by saying walls should be installed at certain corners to stop drivers being tempted to exceed them.
Whilst Red Bull team principal Horner stops short of suggesting this should be an option he echoes Ricciardo's claim that something should be done at some venues.
“Bernie's view is put a wall there, which is probably one end of the spectrum. But I definitely think there's an argument for a gravel trap because if you end up in the gravel you either lose an enormous amount of time or you're out of the race. I really think it's something that should be looked at for corners such as Turn 1 to see if gravel is a better deterrent than large tarmac run-off areas.
“It remains too open to interpretation because why was Max's move any different to Lewis at the chicane in Monte Carlo or Lewis on lap one here? You're leaving it constantly up to stewards interpretation on individual events. If there's a gravel trap there they pay the price, it's as simple as that.”
POINTS: The F1 World Championship standings after the Mexican GP
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