F1 drivers praise Mugello but Petrov says it’s not safe

2012 F1 season

Vitaly Petrov, Caterham, Mugello, 2012F1’s return to Mugello for testing has been praised by many drivers – with the exception of Vitaly Petrov who says the track isn’t safe enough.

On Tuesday Mark Webber hailed the circuit as being far more satisfying to drive on than some modern F1 venues:

“Did ten dry laps today around Mugello, which is the same as doing 1,000 laps around Abu Dhabi track in terms of satisfaction,” he posted on Twitter.

In between runs today Daniel Ricciardo said: “Love driving the beast round here, awesome high speed circuit. Can’t wait to get back in after lunch.”

Sebastian Vettel said: “I’m happy to be here. Unfortunately we don?t have this track on the calendar. It’s an incredible circuit with a lot of high-speed corners.

“It’s what you hope for in a Formula One car, because you can really feel the downforce. Once you get into the rhythm it?s really enjoyable.”

Nico Rosberg, Bruno Senna and Jean-Eric Vergne also praised the circuit.

But Petrov raised concerns about the circuit: “I’m not sure the track is right for today’s F1 cars,” he said yesterday. “You get very close to the walls and it’s maybe a bit small for the cars now, but it’s still a good challenge putting together a quick lap.”

He told Autosport today: “I don’t think we should have come here. It is not safe and wide enough.”

Unlike most modern F1 venues, Mugello has no tarmac run-off – the track is mainly bordered by grass and gravel traps as can be seen in this satellite picture:

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80 comments on F1 drivers praise Mugello but Petrov says it’s not safe

  1. Lin1876 (@lin1876) said on 3rd May 2012, 17:55

    I can see where Petrov’s coming from, but gravel traps aren’t dangerous per se. They provided a surface which can and does stop speeding cars and punishes mistakes (surely desirable). Sure, having cars rolling isn’t ideal, but they do have roll bars to keep the driver safe!

    • Mike (@mike) said on 4th May 2012, 3:28

      One key problem is that, if the cars dig in while still going very fast, what happens if the car goes airborne? How do you manage that?

      For slower corners however, I agree, gravel traps should be used.

  2. Lothario said on 3rd May 2012, 17:55

    Being part Italian, I’d love to see this as the European GP. Bring back Imola also to be the San Marino GP again!

  3. Karthikeyan (@ridiculous) said on 3rd May 2012, 18:25

    Kudos to Petrov for speaking out his mind instead of joining the ‘popular-bandwagon’. As a driver he will be the one worried about his safety and nobody else, and he has every right to express his opinions about the circuit. Mugello might have lush greenery, history and lots of gravel. But if it is unsafe, then it is unsafe. Nothing changes that. As to a circuit punishing a driver, this is only a testing circuit and someone’s life should not be the price.

  4. Brolloks (@brolloks) said on 3rd May 2012, 18:42

    Get rid of Abu Dhabi! Burn Valencia to the ground! Forget about India and South Korea! Turn the lights of at Singapore! Bring back the old Hockenheim and Imola. Race twice a year at Spa. Put in Mugello for good measure. It is what the fans and drivers want. Only Bernie’s bank account doesn’t. If F1 makes use of proper circuits, maybe it doesn’t need to bring in bi-annual gimmicks like DRS, KERS, or altered tyre or refueling rules.

    • AndrewTanner (@andrewtanner) said on 3rd May 2012, 22:42

      Speak for yourself @brolloks I like the old circuits as much as the next fan, but I do believe in at least trying to push further afield. This is a world championship after all. Where be the challenge in using the same circuits forever?

      • DK (@seijakessen) said on 4th May 2012, 0:07

        No one had a problem with F1 being considered World Championship all those years they weren’t going to the Tilkedromes of Asia and the Middle East. There are plenty of fantastic tracks across the planet. The problem arises in using rubbish designed tracks that are never going to be considered “classic” ever. They’ve been using Monza for over 50 years, there’s still plenty of challenge there…same with Monaco.

    • Thecollaroyboys (@thecollaroyboys) said on 3rd May 2012, 22:53

      If F1 stays in Europe it will never be a world sport. Sad to lose the old Euro tracks but there is potential for FOM to learn from their mistakes – S Korea, I’m looking at you – and develop some decent tracks out here. That said, China, for all of the criticism levelled at it, has produced the highest scores on “rate the race” for the last couple of years and that’s where “heritage” comes from – the memory of great drives in the minds of the fanatics rather than the specific properties of the track.

      (Yes, I know that it’s laughable to expect FOM to learn from it’s mistakes but there’s always a chance.)

  5. evered7 (@evered7) said on 3rd May 2012, 19:04

    So I expect Petrov not to race in Montreal, Monaco, Singapore and Valencia? Since they have walls much closer to the track than other circuits. Maybe racing on the new circuits have made the drivers a little too paranoid about safety.

    Didn’t they know what they signed for when they took up racing?

  6. AndrewTanner (@andrewtanner) said on 3rd May 2012, 22:43

    Not surprised Vettel likes it, their philosophy suits the circuit perfectly! I’m sure he would like a few Mugello’s on the calendar every year.

    I’m sure if this ever did get on the F1 calendar the safety would be approached with a fine tooth comb.

  7. Pamphlet (@pamphlet) said on 4th May 2012, 0:16

    If you think that people have to run with mostly untested parts here, yes, there is a certain element of truth to his statement. There’s a reason why you don’t go testing at Monaco, people.

    • evered7 (@evered7) said on 4th May 2012, 2:48

      Untested parts doesn’t necessarily mean the driver will be at a risk. Unless they are totally changing the car upside down and leaving a couple of screws loose, I really don’t see an issue with testing in Mugello.

      Driver safety is of utmost importance, no doubt about that, it is just that this seems unfounded.

  8. me262 said on 4th May 2012, 0:17

    gotta say, when champ car races are held at airport circuits there is normally a lot of overtaking. wideness of the track and run off areas gives drivers lots of confidence

  9. Denis 68 said on 4th May 2012, 1:41

    Vitaly when you (sorry your sponsors) replaced Trulli at what ever that team is called nowdays resulting in no Italian drivers in F1 you remarked that the reason for this was that Italian drivers lacked passion and gut’s.

    If your to scared to race at Mugello perhaps you can get an Italian driver to replace you for that race.

  10. Matt (@agentmulder) said on 4th May 2012, 2:18

    I applaud Petrov for speaking his mind. It’s his opinion, and he’s entitled to speak it. Still, as others have said, in the context of the current calender it’s of a strange one.

    We have Monaco, Valencia, and Singapore, all with much closer barriers, no runoff whatsoever, all on the calander. We have Montreal, Monza, and Spa, all with much higher speeds, all still on the calander. F1 is going to a whole new track this year, with exact track particulars unknown. Where is the line?

    Just because Mugello doesn’t fit the mold of the new tracks, where nearly anything high speed has to be straight, doesn’t make it any more or less dangerous than any other venue F1 goes to. Speed isn’t the only thing that can kill you in F1. Massa was very close to dying not from insufficient runoff, but a spring hitting his face. Schumacher could have been killed in Abu Dhabi in 2010 at a chicane when the Force India decided to jump. Webber survived a nasty crash at high speed on a track with much less runoff than Mugello, and without any type of arresting material between him and the Armco.

    Personally, if I were racing, I’d feel a lot safer at a track with gravel runoffs and space between me and the wall than I would at one where the runoff looks like a colored part of the track, or the walls are inches from my face.

  11. Fisha695 (@fisha695) said on 4th May 2012, 5:46

    Correct me if I’m wrong but isn’t a bunch of the paved runoff more of a result of Motorcycles racing on those tracks then it is an F1 safety move? I remember Tilke saying something to that affect when talking about the design of CoTA.

  12. AlexNK said on 4th May 2012, 8:16

    Guys, I think when talking gravel vs tarmac you are forgetting how it all started. Paved run-off areas are a relatively new thing, and they are the result of the campaign to improve safety of both car and moto racing. In the past, when almost all run-offs, bar street circuits, were gravel by default, it turned out that gravel traps became inefficient in slowing down F1 cars, particularly as they were getting faster and narrower. There was a particular problem with cars getting airborne over the gravel and flying into the barriers, another one was cars partially digging into the gravel and rolling over. At one point it became a serious issue and was widely discussed among the drivers and teams. So, the solution was to use tarmac instead, and it worked. I remember how everyone was praising paved run-offs for they offered more control of the car and better slowdown (since you can still use your brakes).

    It really seemed like a good solution at the time and still is for what it is worth, because it does what it’s supposed to do. However, these tarmac areas do seem a bit too forgiving, moreover, sometimes they allow drivers to go as fast as on the racing line, which was used for several rather controversial overtakings. Perhaps, the balance between safety and driver punishment for errors needs to be restored in this case.

    Re Mugello, I will not comment on Mr Petrov’s rants, he’s entitled to his view as we’re entitled to form our opinion of him based on his comments. Yet, I do not believe that Mugello would be a good place to host modern era F1 GPs. True, the track has a great flow and is likely to be a great fun to hotlap. However, it appears to be very narrow and lack slow corners, which nowadays spells ‘no overtaking’. The track’s layout almost guarantees processional racing, unless, of course, Pirellis would start to instantly self-destruct, but even in this case we would get a lot of trains because there’s not much space here to use DRS, and we saw what happens with Pirellis when drivers leave the racing line in the corners. So, not a good track for today’s F1 (which perhaps says a lot about today’s F1).

  13. katederby (@katederby) said on 4th May 2012, 10:00

    Questioning the safety of a track is always worth while; where would the sport be without Sir Jackie Stewart? And in light of Webber and other’s praise for the track it does look like winging. But it’s easy to quote a few comments out of context and make a headline and Petrov is an easy target in this respect. He’s not a coward and he’s not a rubbish driver.

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