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. 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?

    1. 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!

  2. 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.

  3. HounslowBusGarage
    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.

  4. Tim Coldstream
    24th May 2010, 9:14

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

  5. 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)

  6. If you ask me, it’s high time to go back to the ol’ half-buried tire chicane. That’ll sort the men from the boys.

  7. Not sure about this, but from what i have seen – the video as well as the flying cars so far this year – those kerbs seem to have some problems.

    So i hope the GPDA and FIA get together to have a thought about what they want to have those kerbs there for in the first place and test a better solution.

    Maybe penalizing drivers for repeated misuse would be a solution, but it would mean more overtaking having to be adressed by the stewards, which is not good.

  8. How about this, you give the crowd a box full of my lovely tomatoes, anyone who cuts a corner on a lap, an announcement is made over the tannoy and the crowd can then pelt the driver with tomatoes for the whole of the next lap.
    That would surely stop them from cutting corners!

    Love Sammy.

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