Are F1’s new combination kerbs safe?

Posted on | Author Keith Collantine

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

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

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  1. that is one ugly mclaren!

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

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

  3. 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?

    1. lol exactly

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

  4. 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.

  5. 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.

  6. MouseNightshirt
    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?

  7. New kid on the block
    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! :) )

  8. 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?

  9. 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.

    1. i like the sound of that

    2. 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

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

  11. Instead of making the kerbs very high, make them very low. Its as simple as that :)

  12. How about this as a completely radical solution from out of left field and so far out of the box it is unbelievable……

    We don’t all panic and demand draconian measures because of one or two isolated incidents.

    6 Races so far. Totaling over 1100 miles of racing. Taking in to account the number of cars involved in those races, we have probably gone well past 25,000 miles in terms of distance travelled. And two marginal incidents in which no one was hurt, and a third from a different series in which no one was hurt, and all of a sudden they are seriously dangerous and we should be having them changed? Even more of a spurious link when the two F1 incidents in question were not the fault of the kerbs.

    And the tenuous nature of such a complaint is even more obvious when an even more dangerous incident happened in Monaco because of open wheels and not these kerbs – so why not change that as well???

    Or put cockpits on the cars so there are no risks to the head of the drivers???

    Or how about we cancel F1 and all watch Touring Cars instead???

    I once stood on a tennis ball and sprained my ankle, so lets make them square instead, or ultra soft so the collapse, to reduce the risk of injury because of the statistical likelihood of an injury in less than 0.01% of the time.

    So does not panicking seem quite so ludicrous compared to any other suggestion???

    1. Well said, And I thought I was the only one to think like that. There really is too much knee jerk thinking going on.

  13. It is interesting that fans and viewers can see what regulartors can’t.
    As the recent death of a luger at the Olympics showed us, anyone who has spent any time in loss control and risk analysis could have seen, the track was flawed.
    These curbs are clearly dangerous.
    If the FIA wants to stop them cutting the corners put in traffic barriers i.e. short walls. That will insure they stay on the track.

  14. Do away with the kerbs all together and have concrete on the inside at the same level as the track with holes in it (lets say 10 cm in diameter) where grass grows. If the grass is let to grow enough it will more or less cover the concrete. In this way earth is not torn up by the wheels since the concrete is at the same level to protect it. Sure the drivers will put the inside wheel on the grass but doing it with the outside wheel as well will not offer much grip.

  15. I would avoid kerbs at all.
    Go in the grass and keep what you have (tyres damage, cars damage and so on…).
    I hate a track that has some kerbs, than some green tarmac, then some concrete support…you never do a mistake with tracks like that.
    “Springboard” kerbs are only the worst of the worst, in that sense.

  16. I think it is not dangerous, but is interesting to see how those drivers in F2 weave a lot in front of each other…

    Isn´t FIA responsible for drive etiquette on this low formulas too?

  17. Secondary high step kerbing is designed to stop over cutting. Get rid of them. Put in their place an aggressive secondary kerb at the same level. Aggerssive? No expert, but something that will hurt tyres is hit – maybe hard sharp edged ridges on the teeth.

    Is an issue. Back end of the kerbs needs to stay low, and agree step down is dangerous – a wheel that finds it will drag a car into a spin across the track.

  18. Seriously, why is everyone jumping for solutions when there hasn’t even been established that there IS a problem?

    THIS is exactly what’s wrong with F1. Someone poses a critical question and then everybody starts jumping through hoops to “fix” the problem.

    Drivers should simply not fly through the inside kerb of a chicane. It’s just utterly weird that this driver manages to do this. If anyhting they should give him a “reprimand” or penalty for that.

    The outside kerb of a chicane is a more likely thing to be hit, but by then the speed is reduced and the danger is gone.

    1. Drivers should simply not fly through the inside kerb of a chicane.

      But there are all kinds of scenarios not in the driver’s control that could cause that to happen – brake failure, for example, or a front wing lodged under the front of the car as happened to Kobayashi a couple of races ago.

      I appreciate you can’t make motor racing entirely safe for every possible eventuality. But my concern here is that in trying to fix one problem (corner-cutting) a potentially more dangerous problem has been created.

      1. The kerb is on the inside of the corner. Not a place where a car with brake failure tends to go. They tend to fly straight.

        If there is any place where these kerbs are in the natural flow of the track then I would agree.

        For instance a double kerb on a right hand corner (chicane) after a slow left hand bend. Lose control and the car would fly straight over that kerb.

  19. Mark in Florida
    23rd May 2010, 22:31

    The combination curbs are dangerous.The speed bumps unsettle the car then the chassis gets up on the banking.It’s only a matter of time before some poor driver either get’s spun around into oncoming traffic or get’s completely airborne.They are so worried about drivers cutting the corners.I think that a bad wreck is far worse than someone snipping the corner.Make the stewards do their job and penalize people that cheat.

  20. Electrolite
    23rd May 2010, 22:40

    If you look at the Mclaren picture, the kerb is nearlly as high as the front wing.

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