Safety in F1
15th January 2011, 22:40 at 10:40 pm #128778
Out of some morbid fascination I was watching some footage of Senna’s fatal crash when something occurred to me that I hadn’t realised before.
The Tamburello had a run-off area.
Are run-off areas really that good at making F1 safer? Kubica went straight into a wall in 2007 and survived because of the car. Are run-off areas just a big fake solution designed to make people/sponsors think something is being done about safety? Or does Bernie/the FIA/whoever genuinely believe they make circuits safer? And are they wrong?15th January 2011, 23:29 at 11:29 pm #158005
Taking a contradictory line for the sake of argument, having no run off areas would mean grass? a wall? gravel? I’m not sure any would have changed Senna’s particular angle or impact significantly.
I think they do overall, make circuits safer, but they bring the thrill factor down and the need to be so cautious about a turn incase you go over the limit and drop it.
Ultimately, it’s the strength of the cars that save the drivers these days imho. The one clear factor that hasn’t changed massively since Senna’s death is the amount of wheels that go bouncing around the place. That’s much more a danger than the impact from the walls it seems, because it’s an uncontrollable factor. However I think there are 2 tethers per wheel coming in for 2012, but not this year ( correct me if I’m wrong ), due to the redesign costs.
Personally I want to see the RB X2010 prototype racing around in an exhibition league. But that’s not likely to happen unless some sheik somewhere decides he’s fed up of looking at all his money and needs to be a bit more flamboyant than buying another pimped up Ferrari, or building another glassy curvy tower somewhere on the desert that remains 90% empty for the next 20 years.16th January 2011, 10:16 at 10:16 am #158006
I think run-off areas are for spectators. Only gravel traps and I mean “traps” stop cars. Felipes accident in 09 was another example, while the run-off was gravel, due to the sheer speed the car left the track, it just skated across the gravel into the wall. Then there’s Rubens crash at Imola 94, he nearly cleared a 1m tyre bouncing of the ripple strip. No run off would of stopped that. If run-off areas were a safety rule/necessity we would not have street circuits. Like Hare, I believe it is the strength of the cars and safety devices that form today’s cars that are responsible for the saving of lives. Although these features in hindsight may not of saved Senna, he would be glad to know that his conversations with Berger and Schumacher on the morning of his death initiated the implementation of the features that today save many drivers lifes.16th January 2011, 10:35 at 10:35 am #158007
I think run-off areas are for spectators. Only gravel traps and I mean “traps” stop cars. Felipes accident in 09 was another example, while the run-off was gravel, due to the sheer speed the car left the track, it just skated across the gravel into the wall.
Massa didn’t go across gravel, the run off was tarmac.17th January 2011, 10:42 at 10:42 am #158008
Correct, my bad! Do you have anything to add on the subject?17th January 2011, 19:02 at 7:02 pm #158009
Run off areas are imperative for safety..Without run off areas then a driver would have no time to reduce speed before impact..YES Tamburello had a run off area BUT it was terribly designed..If it had been a very deep gravel trap and a very deep tyre wall instead of concrete, then Ayrton would probably have survived..One thing i do agree with is that the new circuits run off areas can be far too large, making it less and less likely that mistakes will be punished and the driver will damage their car..17th January 2011, 20:24 at 8:24 pm #158010
Without checking, I think the run-off at Imola ’94 was grass. If this had been tarmac I wonder if Senna could have slowed the car down more? If deeper gravel, would it have stopped the car better than grass.
Of course the problem with tarmac run-off is that it is open to abuse and does not hinder the offending driver in minor mistakes. Perhaps a combo of a kerb or part gravel grass and then tarmac is best.
and the danger of kerbs and gravel is that they can launch a car airborne.17th January 2011, 20:32 at 8:32 pm #158011
Tumborello run-off in ’94 was tarmac/concrete if I remember right. Anyway, wall was just too close, I don’t believe that any type of run-off at that speed would help.17th January 2011, 20:42 at 8:42 pm #158012
Yes, correct. It was tarmac. Just checked. Shows how little it really did to slow down the car then.17th January 2011, 21:30 at 9:30 pm #158013
Run off doesn’t just slow down speeds (which it probably barely will in some situations) but it gives the driver a chance to correct a mistake so it is safer than just having a wall there. When a car suffers a failure or the driver is unconscious heading for the barrier like Felipe (as already noted) then that extra tarmac probably does very little to slow the car down.
They make some situations safer but not all.
Gravel is a lot better at slowing the car down of course but there is always the risk that it will dig in and then roll.
I have seen some ideas by users such as Red Andy that if the tarmac in the run off area was abrasive then that would wreck the tyres and punish the drivers more for making mistakes and without increasing the danger. I doubt that would slow the cars down much either but I do think it’s a good idea.17th January 2011, 22:04 at 10:04 pm #158014
I always had this mad idea as a kid that the run-off would be exponentially steeper, slowing the cars down, if course the car would just roll back onto the track a la Webber in Korea…17th January 2011, 23:15 at 11:15 pm #158015
The reason street circuits don’t need run off is because of their relatively slow speed. We have seen though, how the lack of run off on street circuits can really hurt a driver (Alex Caffi Monaco 1991, Karl Wendlinger Monaco 1994 who had run off but not enough, Mark Webber Valencia 2010 (look at full speed version of webbers crash) Although Webber wasn’t hurt, that speed was really scary. Just imagine if that happened in Monaco! But still, crashes like Senna’s and Berger’s at Imola and Kubica’s at Canada prove that sometimes runoff isn’t enough. I think that putting one set of tire barriers in the middle/three fourths of the way down the gravel trap would help reduce injury, and still make the drivers have something to worry about. If you hit first tire barrier at 140 mph and drag them along to the next tire barrier, you would hit the second one with a MUCH slower speed, like 40 mph. The only problem is that getting the tires back in place would be time consuming and would call for long yellows.18th January 2011, 10:18 at 10:18 am #158016
I think two tyre barriers would cause red flags even with a bit more minor accidents, since tyres would fly all over the place. What about haystacks? They could be used as such “half-way-to-the-wall” barriers I guess, though I think they were banned for some reason.18th January 2011, 11:20 at 11:20 am #158017
Wouldn’t haystacks cause some sort of fire maybe?18th January 2011, 12:03 at 12:03 pm #158018
i’m thinking hybrid traps of half asphalt, then half gravel.
gives them some time to correct their mistake, then a couple of metres of gravel as a last ditch slowdown..
And i’m sure its generally more safe for cars to roll and slow, than to head straight into the tyres. With the monocoques so good these days, a gentle couple of rolls shouldn’t hurt that bad.
take this for example.. there should have been a fair section of asphalt for him to attempt to save it, then a gravel trap to roll and stop the car: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZwPgPqTMeco&feature=related
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