F1 drivers unhappy with FIA after concrete wall concerns ignored

Several F1 drivers have expressed concerns over the unprotected concrete wall at Turn 13 after Carlos Sainz and Esteban Ocon both suffered heavy crashes at the corner. 
Esteban Ocon (FRA)
Esteban Ocon (FRA)

Two hefty crashes in two days at the same part of the Miami International Autodrome circuit during the Florida city’s inaugural grand prix have prompted safety concerns from F1 drivers. 

Sainz lost control of his Ferrari and spun into the concrete wall on the outside of Turn 13 in Friday’s second practice session, before Ocon suffered a near-identical crash less than 24 hours later. 

The Frenchman was left with knee pain but has been declared fit to race following a precautionary trip to the medical centre. The impact registered 51G and cracked the chassis of Ocon’s Alpine car, causing him miss qualifying. 

Ocon revealed that drivers’ complaints to new F1 race director Niels Wittich over the lack of absorbent Tecpro safety barriers during their usual Friday briefing after practice fell on deaf ears. 

“What’s unacceptable really is that it was 51g for what should have been not such a big impact,” Ocon said.

“Carlos has complained to the race director, we were all there listening to it and nothing has been done.

“Carlos said the impact was way too big and today it felt huge. It’s probably the biggest shunt of my career, to be fair. So yesterday Carlos got hurt, today I got hurt as well.

“The FIA should push harder for our safety, but it’s important that we will be able to race and I will be able to race as well. 

“When a professional driver of the calibre of Carlos, driving for Ferrari, says something like this, I think the minimum is that it should be taken into consideration and do the best possible to make a change.”

Carlos Sainz Jr (ESP) Ferrari F1-75. Formula 1 World Championship, Rd 5, Miami Grand Prix, Miami, Florida, USA, Practice
Carlos Sainz Jr (ESP) Ferrari F1-75. Formula 1 World Championship, Rd 5,…

After qualifying second on the grid in Miami, Sainz confirmed he had raised his concerns to the FIA on Friday evening and was left unimpressed by their response.

“I’m sorry to be critical, but I told the FIA yesterday that my crash at second gear shouldn’t feel that hard,” he told Sky. 

“Today, my neck was a bit in pain and I told them let’s put Tecpro there because it’s a very hard concrete wall.

“Esteban crashed and I’m pretty sure he felt it too and it’s one of those things I will never understand.”

Ocon’s teammate Fernando Alonso was among the drivers who believe more could be done to better protect drivers at Turn 13. 

“We are in the car and we know how it feels when you hit the wall,” the Spaniard said. “And Carlos was very clear yesterday that it was not right to have just the wall there, not other protection.

“So today we had another accident, same place, same angle, another driver was hurt. So tomorrow we have the second chance to put something there.”

Aston Martin’s Lance Stroll called it “ridiculous” that the corner does not feature Tecpro barriers. 

Lance Stroll (CDN) Aston Martin F1 Team AMR22. Formula 1 World Championship, Rd 5, Miami Grand Prix, Miami, Florida, USA,
Lance Stroll (CDN) Aston Martin F1 Team AMR22. Formula 1 World…

“They should just put it,” Stroll stressed. “I don’t know what the big fuss about it is, no one wants to hit a concrete wall.”

Sergio Perez and Pierre Gasly also expressed concern over the incidents, though the Red Bull driver doubted changes could have been made in time due to schedule constraints. 

“I don’t think it was possible for them to do any action, in fairness to the FIA,” Perez admitted. 

“But we certainly discussed it and we were surprised with the amount of g that Carlos had.

“We don’t want to see that again. We want extra precautions in the future and to avoid those kind of heavy accidents.”

However, Lewis Hamilton - who is in a stand-off with the FIA regarding a spat over safety concerns relating to a ban on wearing jewellery in the car - has no concerns about the new street circuit. 

“When we come to these new tracks, they do the best job,” he said. “I think they've done a great job in all of these new tracks with safety. 

“You can't predict every single corner, where we're going to need Tecpro, but safety on track is great. 

“So I think we of course after an experience like this weekend, we can know that that’s an area that we can improve on. But that's a part of the lessons we learned.”

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