Formula 1 race director Michael Masi says gravel traps are “not the solution everywhere” following a positive response from drivers to their rare usage at the Tuscan Grand Prix at Mugello.

Unlike many modern and recently upgraded grand prix venues, Mugello still uses gravel traps at all of its 15 corners, something which drivers said they preferred during F1’s first-ever competitive visit to the Tuscan track last weekend.

The subject of policing track-limits and run-off areas has proved to be a major theme at every race so far this season, but at Mugello the FIA noted that the majority of corners would not be monitored over the course of the race weekend.

A number of drivers welcomed the use of gravel traps and said they would like to see gravel more widely used to combat the track limits issue in F1.

“I want gravel,” said Charles Leclerc. “At the end we are drivers and this a bigger challenge for us drivers.

“You know that if you do a mistake you pay for it more than just going wide and coming back on track 50 metres later. So I prefer gravel.”

His Ferrari teammate Sebastian Vettel agreed, with the four-time world champion and GPDA director suggesting that a strip of gravel placed between the track and run-off could be an “intermediate solution”.

"I think as a driver you prefer the fact that if you go off, it gets penalised," Vettel explained.

"I think it makes things a lot more straightforward. But I think you have to balance also the gravel against the asphalt in terms of if things go wrong.

"Maybe we can have an intermediate solution where you have a gravel strip initially, and therefore there is no point to go wide, and after that have asphalt for the benefit of having less run-off, bring the spectators closer to the track, and make it safer for us, so the cars slow down if you lose control or whatever.

"It's not an easy one, but for sure with all the asphalt around in some tracks, it does take away the character and make it a bit too easy to make mistakes."

McLaren’s Carlos Sainz was also a fan of Mugello’s use of gravel traps and was among the drivers calling for a return to the “old school” venue.

"I think it's great to see the gravel traps back," he said.

"And it's probably going to give the FIA some confidence that these kind of run-off areas work to protect from track limits and all those issues that we're having in other tracks, so it was nice to see."

But Masi stressed that the gravel trap solution cannot be applied at all circuits on the F1 calendar.

"No, we can't have them everywhere," Masi replied when asked if gravel traps could be more widely used across F1 circuits.

"It's not a one size fits all, as I've said this multiple times, we need to come up with the appropriate solutions with each of the circuit owners and operators.

"And we'll continue working through that. We've already discussed it with the drivers. So I think it's a bit much to ask.

"It's not the solution everywhere, let's put it that way."

 

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