Are F1’s new combination kerbs safe?

The combination kerbs in use at Monza last year

The combination kerbs in use at Monza last year

I’ve mentioned here before my concern that the new combination kerbs being used on several F1 tracks could cause an out-of-control car to fly into the air.

The kerbs were installed at Monza ahead of last year’s F1 race. Yesterday at the circuit a Formula Two driver hit one of them and flew across the track at head height.

Nicola de Marco struck the combination kerb on the first lap of the F2 race. It pitched his car into the air as it crossed the track and, had there been another car on the track at that point, de Marco’s car would have hit it at head height.

It’s not hard to see how a similar accident could happen in F1 – we’ve already had two similar crashes year: Kamui Kobayashi’s at Melbourne and Vitantonio Liuzzi’s at Shanghai.

An out-of-control car is always going to be dangerous but if it strikes a kerb which springs it into the air its driver is powerless to slow it down and it had the potential to strike another car in the place its driver is most exposed.

The combination kerbs are effective at stopping drivers from cutting corners because of the raised section which discourages drivers from running across them. They kerbs are also being used at some corners in Melbourne, Singapore and the new section at Silverstone.

Do you think the kerbs are safe enough? How could they be improved? Have your say in the comments.

This low shot gives an impression of how high the kerbs are

This low shot gives an impression of how high the kerbs are (click to enlarge)

Combination kerbs

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93 comments on Are F1’s new combination kerbs safe?

  1. Bebilou said on 23rd May 2010, 10:43

    Don’t you think the actuel problem is the chicanes ? They put it for safety reasons, but I think having the drivers to hit the brakes so hard and so suddenly after a long straight is far more dangerous.

    I would be so happy if we could get rid of these awful 1st and 2nd chicanes in Monza !
    Just put a “soft wall” (like in US ovals) in the Curva grande (which would become an awesome corner).

    • David said on 23rd May 2010, 12:35

      “…but I think having the drivers to hit the brakes so hard and so suddenly after a long straight is far more dangerous.”

      rubbish. The amazing brakes on F1 cars make braking into slow chicanes one of the safest things you’ll ever do in an F1 car. The dangerous stuff in F1 is the high speed stuff.

  2. Andrea Corbetta said on 23rd May 2010, 10:50

    Hello everyone, hello Keith
    I was yesterday in “Prima chicane” during F2 race. I think new kerbs is not so different than old ones, I think could be an interesting challenge for drivers

  3. Cynical said on 23rd May 2010, 10:59

    Get rid of them . Stick to the rule 1 tyre on track and you’re on the track. What’s the big deal? They are their to be driven on otherwise put a wall there.

    • Bigbadderboom said on 23rd May 2010, 11:59

      I agree, have hard and fast rules about cutting corners, reduce the kerb height and let stewards punish those that consistantly cut the corners. Introduce a yellow card system by where you get 1 warning, then a drive through, and if you continue then you get a 20 sec stop and go. Any physical deterrant is going to increase risk of damage to driver and car.
      What I don’t like about the new kerbs is the fact that anybody thats going to be sriousley injured is unlikely to be the driver commiting the infringement, it will be some poor innocent that gets landed on.
      With all the cameras, drivers helping with the stewards it should be easy to identify and punish.

  4. I think they are dangerous for now because its new but the drivers will get used to it over time I guess.

  5. The Illinois Enema Bandit said on 23rd May 2010, 11:34

    You’d have thought that in this day and age a sensor could be put under the track which either alerts race control when a car cuts a turn or maybe even limits the car’s power for ~10s or something.

    • HounslowBusGarage said on 23rd May 2010, 14:06

      That’s an interesting name you’ve got there. You don’t hear much about Zappa these days.

    • Lehonardeuler said on 23rd May 2010, 19:56

      The “sensor kerb” is an interesting idea! Though it could be somewhat dangerous (and also difficult) to implement a power limitation for some time on track…
      The thing is: do we want penalties on drivers for doing something wrong that was made possible for their own safety, or do we want them to run a real risk and prevent them from doing it in the first place?
      I go with the 1st option: Safety first, but if they gamble with this commodity they should be given a penalty. Then it can be talked how hard a penalty should be (pass-through, power limitation, etc).
      But some people don’t want penalties to “mess up” races, so a “preventive” solution will suit them better.
      To sum up: Is either a penalty preventive or a safety preventive approach, but not both.

  6. sato113 said on 23rd May 2010, 11:41

    that is one ugly mclaren!

    I agree with red andy here, just use progressively abrasive run off zones.

  7. wasiF1 said on 23rd May 2010, 12:02

    Can’ the FIA install sensor so that if a car cross certain line on the track then they will be punished?

  8. Patrickl said on 23rd May 2010, 12:05

    How on earth did he manage to get on the inside kerb of that chicane anyway?

    Maybe they shouldn’t let dangerous drivers like that race?

    • David said on 23rd May 2010, 12:37

      lol exactly

      The guy dropped the car under very little braking for the first chicane. Terrible driving.

  9. johnno said on 23rd May 2010, 12:09

    remove the high kerbs and have a clearly painted yellow area so if a driver’s wheel goes into whilst overtaking he should be penalised or let the guy behind go back infront.

  10. f1yankee said on 23rd May 2010, 12:20

    i’m fine with the what the kerbs do and how they do it. they pose a certain amount of risk, but risk is part of the sport. any sport, really.

  11. MouseNightshirt said on 23rd May 2010, 13:16

    What lots of smaller raised “nodules”. Not big enough to launch the car but enough to raise most of the contact patch of the tyres away from the surface, reducing grip and costing time?

  12. New kid on the block said on 23rd May 2010, 14:26

    Has anyone seen what the V8 supercars in Australia (mainly on Surfers Paradise) use? maybe a study along those lines of a tire inside the kerbs and maybe upgrade it to better suit F1, it manages to lift the car, but not to an insane height, and the tire thing being held by a chain wont fly anywhere. It damages the wheel or wing, but not the suspension.

    its worth a look.

    (first post! :) )

  13. Is it time for an electronic solution to enforcing the boundaries of the track?

    I presume originally the curbs were intended to prevent cars leaving the track, then we needed curbs behind the curbs. Might it be better if the standard ECU linked to sensors so that if a car moves too far off the track his revs are limited at a lower value for a period of time, for example, half a second at the revs he was on when he crossed the line?

  14. Icthyes said on 23rd May 2010, 14:42

    Have flat kerbs that the width of the wheel, and leave the rest as grass or an abrasive surface. That will stop them cutting the corners.

    • f1yankee said on 23rd May 2010, 17:08

      i like the sound of that

    • SpaFan said on 24th May 2010, 8:16

      Just make kerbs high enough so they can never cut it, like 1 foot :D

      50 feet before the corner its at the same level als the tarmac, at the apex its 1 foot and 50 feet after the corner its back to same leel as tarmac.
      That way they will never cut it

  15. That’s a very good point, if someone was to drop it before a corner and hit that, it could cause big problems

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