Vibrators in the viewfinder at Le Castellet

Several teams have expressed concern about the measures put in place to ensure that track limits are respected at the Circuit Paul Ricard. 

Published on 19/06/2021 à 10:11


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Vibrators in the viewfinder at Le Castellet

Incredible phenomenon: yellow “sausages” do not damage your car when you do not drive on it / © DPPI

Hey, it’s been a long time since we talked about the famous “ track limits » and their control by the competent authorities in Formula 1. We won't tell you that we missed it.  

It must be said that in Monaco and Baku, the last two meetings to date, the question was quickly resolved. A gap and you end up in the wall. Curiously, no one complained during these town meetings. 

Aware of the immense clearance zones surrounding the Circuit Paul Ricard route, the race management has placed several sequences under close surveillance (turns 1-2, 3-5, 6, and 8-9). 

To complete the deterrent arsenal, yellow, wand-shaped curbs are placed outside the traditional red and white curbs on certain bends. Several drivers went there to wipe their front wing and grate their flat bottom during free practice on Friday at the French Grand Prix, notably Valtteri Bottas (Mercedes) and Max Verstappen (Red Bull). 

Ron Meadows, the sporting director of the seven-time world champions, immediately complained on the radio to FIA race director Michael Masi in Free Practice 1.

« These yellow stripes on the outside of turn 2 caused us a lot of damage, exclaimed Meadows. They are too aggressive ». 

Masi’s response: “ We find these same 50 millimeter vibrators almost everywhere Ron ». 

The explanation did not find favor in the eyes of the Mercedes manager, who added a layer by evoking “ hundreds of thousands of pounds lost for a one meter deviation ». 

Words which did not seem to move the race director. “ I think it was more than a meter Ron but I'll look into that later », Retorted Masi as calmly as possible. 

In the afternoon, the Australian's direct line began to crackle with the voice of Jonathan Wheatley, Meadows' counterpart at Red Bull, after Verstappen lost a carbon part. Consequence, here too, of a passage on the famous hated yellow sausages. 

After asking to recover the tip of the aileron (there are no small savings at a time of budget ceiling), Wheatley directly requested the removal of half of the vibrators in question. 

Masi replied that these dissuasive elements were already present in 2019 when F1 last came to the Var. 

The Red Bull sporting director insisted, noting that it would perhaps have been better to install a sensor and erase the timer in the event of an impromptu swerve. rather than lose 100 pounds (116 euros)”. 

Visibly in great shape, Masi reminded Wheatley that “ many main teams and drivers want more penalizing track limits ». 

Red Bull finds itself a bit in the shoes of the watered sprinkler in this story. We will remember that the Austrian team campaigned for clear rules on the issue after seeing Verstappen lose a race (Bahrain), a pole position (Portimão), and a best lap in the race (Portimão again) for non-compliance with the " track limits » at the start of the season. 

Meadows and Wheatley received support from other teams this Friday at Castellet. At the house of Aston Martin, team principal Otmar Szafnauer declared that he was not in favor of damaging the cars in the event of a deviation. “ During a race, you can be pushed off the track and therefore damage your car. », remarked the American judiciously. 

On the side of Haas, Guenther Steiner emphasized that “ the line between what is acceptable and what is not is very fine ". The Italian manager therefore believes that a driver who makes a mistake should lose time, without damaging his car.

Clearly, even in vibrate mode, Masi's phone could well continue to ring all weekend... 


AUTOhebdo deputy editor-in-chief. The feather dipped in gall.

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