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. Nixon said on 23rd May 2010, 17:08

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

  2. Dougal said on 23rd May 2010, 17:31

    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???

    • Tiomkin said on 23rd May 2010, 17:50

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

  3. Alex 3 said on 23rd May 2010, 17:32

    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.

  4. Sven said on 23rd May 2010, 17:38

    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.

  5. David B said on 23rd May 2010, 19:17

    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.

  6. 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?

  7. Salty said on 23rd May 2010, 22:21

    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.

  8. Patrickl said on 23rd May 2010, 22:28

    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.

    • Keith Collantine (@keithcollantine) said on 24th May 2010, 8:12

      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.

      • Patrickl said on 24th May 2010, 9:44

        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.

  9. Mark in Florida said on 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.

  10. Electrolite said on 23rd May 2010, 22:40

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

  11. James_mc said on 23rd May 2010, 23:37

    This is the second flying F2 incident in as many months. Perhaps there is something about the design of these cars or the skills of their drivers which is conducive to flying automobiles?

    • Keith Collantine (@keithcollantine) said on 24th May 2010, 8:13

      Well the other one was down to Ricardo Teixera declining to brake for a corner and using a rival as a launching pad… don’t think there’s much in common between those two crashes!

  12. JohnBt said on 24th May 2010, 8:30

    The high kerbs, if I’m not wrong were first installed in the 2008 Singapore GP. Fisi was the first pilot to take off. NASTY! I don’t think they should be that high to deter drivers from cutting curves or chicanes. The height should be just enough to graze the floor board and chassis, but if one keeps grazing it too often damage will follow. This can handicap the car towards the ending laps of the race.

  13. HounslowBusGarage said on 24th May 2010, 9:07

    Well, in answer to the question in the headline “Are F1’s new combination kerbs safe?”, the answer is probably
    “In Normal Circumstances – YES, but In other circumstances – NO.”
    In the Monza F2 clip, the driver went off the track immediately before the corner kerbs and actually hit them from the off-track side, coming back onto the track (see at 25 seconds), and under those circumstances most kerbs are going to produce strange behaviours.
    The fact that the car took off seems to have allowed it to actually go above the nose of the leading car and thus avoid a huge accident.If there had not been a kerb on the inside of the corner at all, he probably would have slid onto the track and gone straight into the lead car, with potentialy hazardous result for all the other cars following into the chicane.
    I’m not sure you can legislate or design competently or completely for an eventuality like this. Driving like this (going off track to the inside of a corner, then coming back on) is going to be dangerous whatever profile of kerb/no kerb/pit/gravel is in place.

  14. Tim Coldstream said on 24th May 2010, 9:14

    get rid of corners all together, they give an element of risk

  15. How about sharp metal spikes that pop tyres? Discouraging, race-ending, and unlikely that the car will catch any air. If that doesn’t work, have a guy stand there with a ticket book ready to write fines out while the driver has to pull over and wait. Keeps me from doing things illegally while I’m driving! (mostly)

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