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Drivers concerned about pit lane entry and “dangerous” Turn 16 in Korea
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Drivers concerned about pit lane entry and “dangerous” Turn 16 in Korea
Posted By: James Allen  |  22 Oct 2010   |  9:41 am GMT  |  89 comments

The general view among the drivers is that the new Yeongham track is enjoyable to drive and quite challenging, with two distinct characters; the straights and tight turns of Sector 1 and the twists and turns of the later part of the lap, which in time will form a street circuit section.

But many of the drivers are complaining already about the pit lane entry, which is on the racing line through the blind final corner and about the angled kerb at Turn 16, which is below the level of the asphalt and caused the Hispania car to go off this morning. Some drivers felt it was “dangerous”.

At the pit lane entry point, the speed differential between a car on a hot lap and one on its way to the pits is potentially dangerous. The matter is bound to be discussed at length in tonight’s drivers’ briefing.


Take a look at these two images I shot this evening on the track. The first, shot from the driver’s eye level in the middle of the final turn, a blind right hander which leads onto the pit straight.

Barely 30 metres later(below) the pit lane entry line comes into view and a car which wanted to pit would start to move to the right and slow down, on the racing line. The cars are in fifth gear at around 240km/h at that point. But having discussed it there is nothing that can be done about it this weekend, so it will stay as it is.

“I think the pit entry is quite on the edge here, ” said Sebastian Vettel. “Because it’s blind and someone going into the pits will be going slower than someone who is staying out. If you are trying to pass and they decide to pit it could get quite difficult.”

Mark Webber agreed, “The pit entry and exit is a little bit marginal but apart from that I’m clutching at straws to critcise anything.”

“For sure the entry to the pits is a bit strange,” said Felipe Massa, “Because you are the middle of a high speed corner and you need to stay inside, so sometimes it’s not easy to see if the guy in front is going into the pits or not,”

“We also have to look at the kerbs on the inside of Turn 16, there is a big bottoming out of the car there and that’s dangerous.”

Turn 16 in Korea - see the marks from heavy impact with skid blocks


The problem here is that the kerb is lower than the level of the asphalt. Massa’s team mate Fernando Alonso shared his view on Turn 16, “It’s the worst corner, ” he said. “The grading of the asphalt is not at a good angle. You arrive on the flat track and it goes uphil just on the inside of the corner and you hit very hard with the chassis there.”

In response to the drivers’ comments, tonight the FIA Race Director Charlie Whiting has ordered the course workers to build up the kerbs on the inside so drivers will have to go around the area, rather than drive over it. This will be in place in time for Free Practice 3 on Saturday morning.

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1

Well this can be solved by pulling/extending the pit line a little backwards

2

James,

Why is the pit on the outfield of the track? Sure there must be, but I can’t recall another track that has that.. “feature”. Clearly the entrance is bad; the exit is bad as well, since the cars leaving the pits will be perpendicular to cars hurtling down the straight. The pit lane is on the wrong side of the track!

3

Interesting point. It has to do with the access road, probably.

4

I thought they were moving the walls at pit entrance for visibility.

5

I think considering the challenges Korea have faced ghe track is good.

You’d expect some teething problems and I think there will be some good racing.

Let’s just give them a break. They will learn from the pitlane and a couple of the curbs.

Let’s not forget we see curbs issues at most tracks every single year.

The pitlane can be solved for next year and will hopefully not cause any accidents tomorrow.

The track has a lot of decent corners and most of the drivers seem to think there will be overtaking opportunities tomorrow.

6

I don’t think they should change the kerbs so that drivers can drive over them. Why don’t they just avoid the problem area (like they do in Monaco to avoid the big dip)?

Wouldn’t this punish people who want to ride the kerb and make the race a bit more interesting?

7

I think that this can easily be retified by making the turn left into the Pits less sharp.

This means that the Drivers can go full pelt into the Pits and stamp on the Brakes before the line and not have a corner going into the Pits to deal with, that is the main reason for the speed loss going into the Pits !

8

Pitlane entry is ridiculously stupid, surely the work experience kid could have gone “that’s going to cause a problem”.

On an unrelated note I quite like the track, actually. I am surprised because it doesn’t look much on paper, but it seems less “overdesigned” than Abu Dhabi, Singapore and Valencia.

But I note this track has a “mini” Istanbul Turn 8 on it. Hang on, isn’t one of the Austin corners “Istanbul Turn 8”-inspired? Wouldn’t want to go milking the one decent corner he’s come up with, would we now.

9

I haven’t watched the practice footage to see how it looks in action, but perhaps they could extend the pit entry white line to the beginning of the corner. Make it a penalty to run inside the line unless entering the pits. It would probably make the corner boring and slower with the cars running around the outside, but would keep the cars at speed separate from those slowing.

10

In the photo at the top of the page, you can see that Alonso’s big jowls fit almost perfectly into Webber’s gaunt cheeks… these two are like South America and Africa.

11

Brilliant!

12

It seems a very poor design by Tilke. Normally the drivers can be accused of moaning too much, but I think they are right to be concerned about turn 16, it looks far too dangerous. I can’t believe it needed the drivers to point this out, surely Charlie Whiting should have spotted this when he did his inspection last week? On reclaimed land, they seem to have had plenty of space for Tilke to do what he wanted with the circuit, so I don’t understand why the pit entry and exit seem to be so tight? And it’s even more bizarre that there is big run off areas in some parts of the circuit, then concrete walls lining the track on some of the quickest corners when there doesn’t need to be. Overall the circuit looks quite exciting though.

13
Stephen Pattenden

If only they’d tried the PS3 game before this weekend – you could tell the pit entry would be an issue just from that!

14

I’m in total agreement with those that say if your car can’t handle the kerb then don’t drive over it! Blindingly obvious. Next they’ll be complaining the chicane at the end of the pit straight in Monza slows them down for the curca grande.

The pit lane does seem more idiotic to me though. Who’d have thought Tilke didn’t have a clue about circuit design? I was watching this morning seeing all the long sweeping corners that make up the bulk of sectors 2 and 3 thinking what’s the point of these? No challenge and no overtaking opportunities.

A good old white flag (?) for slow moving cars heading back to the pits and good driver awareness so they don’t lift off when someone is right behind and they’re going to pit should do the trick.

Honestly the thought of cars spinning off, hitting the walls, breaking if they bottom out, having their lap ruined if they fail to antisipate traffic and so on thrills the life out of me this weekend more than the sweeping left handers.

15

I have a feeling that if everything remains unchanged we are going to see a major accident around the entry of the pit lane. I hope I am wrong. Perhaps the organizers could draw the white line further back and penalize any drivers that go over it without entering the pits.

16

I have a suggesion for the drivers, if they feel the pit lane entry is dangerous, why not raise an arm in the air to signal your intention to pit. Thats what drivers used to do in the past.

The pit entry reminds me of the old Kyalami circuit last used in 1985, the pit entry there used to be flat out, so with a driver slipstreaming you would have to raise your arm.

17

Personally i dont really see the big issue.

The whole reason for the barriers being so close is that that area in a few years will be covered in highrises, apartments etc and be very much street like.

Maybe it’s a slight oversight but the drivers are there and have to just get on with it.

Looks like a pretty good track imo. Just have to see if the race is as good!

19

This can all be resolved very easily if everyone installs blinkers in their rear wings! Simply turn on your right-turn blinker if you intend to pit. 🙂

Or have someone paint a double-yellow line along the length of the final turn before the pit entrance; if you’re on the right-side, you’re going to the pits (because you can’t cross a double-yellow as we all know). If you’re going straight, stay-left!

Just applying some basic road rules to F1 for a change…like they do with the red light at the end of the pit exit…

20

Excellent idea. Which is exactly why f1 would never dream of using such a practical idea 🙂

21

Pitlane is being fixed

22

I heard something about removing the white line at the pit lane entry. But is this sufficient? Dont they need somehow to improve visibility of the right-hander i.e remove part of the wall????

23

James,

With regards to the pit entrance issue, isn’t it a similar situation to the one in Sao Paolo? Because if I remember correctly, the entrance to the pit lane in Brazil is also right smack in the middle of the racing line on the run up to the start/finish straight and the cars only get past it at the point where those pitting are just about to hit the speed limit beam. How come no one ever really complains about that?

24

Absolutely agree.

25

Because everyone has plenty of visibility going up the hill to see the cars in front; have lots of space to move around the slow cars (i.e. wide track, no walls, no rubber marbles off the racing line). Cars start slowing down for the pit entrance well outside the racing line.

26

Corner 16 is already being fixed. It’ll be sorted for tomorrow. It’s the pit lane that’s the major problem.

27

I read just this morning that the white line for the pit entry will be removed, so that drivers can more aggressively enter the pits without hindering the others that may be zooming by on a hot lap.

28

I can see the pitlane entry causing some problems but it’s something they should be able to overcome between themselves and their teams.

I’m less convinced about Turn 16. At the end of the day if you’re clouting the kerb and bottoming out at the apex, and you’re worried about breaking the car or losing control, then just take a wider line to avoid it.

That’s one of the problems with today’s drivers, I think. They want everything their way and don’t seem willing to drive around problems like this. I suspect that’s why Michael Schumacher can’t see what all the pit entry fuss is about.

What they should be doing is getting together with their teams and weighing up the risks of taking an optimal line through turn 16 against the time lost by taking a safer line. Decisions like that are a part of racing and it annoys me that the drivers’ first instinct is to sterilise circuits of any little quirks like this.

Here’s hoping Rubens tells them all to ‘man up’ in the GPDA briefing!

29

Drivers always like to complain! If they all know the kerb is lower than the ashphalt in turn 18, they could avoid it if it is ‘dangerous’ – really they want a track which allows them to drive straight lines. When circuits used to evolve from roads, I am certain no-one went out overnight to fix issues of ‘difficulty’. I do get a little tired of prima-Donna whinging from these guys. Perhaps they will use these two track ‘issues’ as negotiation tactics to get more money a la Rooney!

30

One day someone has to put them on the nordschlife in order to make them figure out what’s a difficult, a dangerous, a mighty track.

Nowadays, they don’t face death or even injuries. They are not satisfied, they want comfort as well. Tracks are karpets nowadays and still the complain about a couple of kerbs on a 5 km layout.

Maybe on next year’s gpda agenda they’ll put forward airconditiong and back massaging seats.

The most dangerous aspect of their job are camera flashlights agressivness. Hopefully in few years high iso camera’s won’t need any artificial lightening.

31

Agree, they should show them a video of the 1968 race at Nordschlife when Jackie Stewart won by over 4 minutes in the fog and the rain driving with a broken wrist. Now that was driving! Todays drivers just moan about a kerb which is a bit too low for them.

32

I don’t want to see circuits sanitised more than they already are, but it makes a mockery of the lives that have been lost in the sport over the years, if those lessons – learnt the HARDEST way – are not put into effect. If it’s clear that part of a circuit, particularly a new one, is potentially dangerous, then why not change it?

The benefit of hindsight can’t bring back Senna or Ratzenberger. It’s not as if it’s difficult to modify the Korean pit entry either – they are just pre cast concrete walls that can be moved with a JCB.

I was watching a youtube video earlier today where Gerhard Berger was talking about the dangers of Tamburello after his accident. He and Senna walked down to the corner and stood at the exact point where Senna was later killed. Senna looked over the wall and pointed out a lake behind the wall, so it couldn’t be moved back to allow more run off. In the case of Korea, the walls at the pit entry can be moved, easily, so why not just do it.

33

Buildings are supposed to ve there !

34

Very good point. After all of the lessons that have been learnt over the years and the great efforts that have gone into making the sport safer, it seems crazy to make circuits more dangerous again just for the sake of it. Yes, it may add an extra element of excitement, but that all gets forgotten if someone loses their life as a result. There’s no need for the walls to be so close to the circuit. I know they want to create a street circuit feel, but surely they should put the walls close to the circuit in the slower corners, not the quicker ones at the end of the lap.

35

Steady on Jo… it’s still dangerous!

Massa got clobbered by a spring that nearly took his life in ’09 and the week prior to that young Henry Surtees lost his life. We’ve had errant tyres flying around the pit-lane at times this season – which has been dangerous; Yamamoto drove off with a team-member still looking into the car… very dangerous! Webber was very lucky to walk away from his trip through the air in Valencia; let’s not get blase and comfortable about this… it is still a dangerous sport.

I like to see challenges for the drivers though… on some circuits, some of the run-off areas have neutered the challenge of the turns… turn 16 looks a challenge to me and I like that.

But, I don’t wish to see anyone killed, yet I accept it can happen.

For me the last corner\pit-lane entry looks very dodgy… because you can’t see ahead! You can’t see through the turn. It’s why (I think) they stopped the 2nd session when Sakon went a-spinning around. You cannot see what is around that corner, because of the walls on either side of the track… on top of that, it’s high-speed. As JR states (above) if someone’s recovering\limping in to the pits at slow speed AND someone is belting around the corner at high speed…???????

36

what happened to massa is impossible to avoid. It is just a stupid accident with dramatic consequences. He was hugely unlucky that day, and that bad luck could have happened to him outside a track in a different form. It had nothing to do with him.

I think that statistically, what happened to him has less than a chance out of 10000 to happen and yet it hit him. Accidents that unlikely can’t be considered due to F1 danngerosity. I think that the remaining leathal point is loose parts after a crash and particularly loose tyres… SENNA died because of that and the very reason why he died haseen’t been solved 16 years later.

37
Marty McSuperfly

James, whats the turn penultimate to the pit entrance one like? Can they do a Brazil pit exit, or old catalyuna entrance? ie just have massive line of paint/hatching that means the corner may be rubbish to drive through, but is safe for pitting cars?

38

No, walls both sides

39

Can they move the walls back? if not this year then for next?

40
Marty McSuperfly

Oh dear!

Webber best keep an eye out for those Lotus then 😉

41
Michael Grievson

I dont see the pitlane being a problem. The field will be spreadout by the time they’ll be changing tyres.

Turn 16 is easily solved. Don’t us the kerb and stay on the track instead

42

What about in qualifying? I can see the potential for a lot of flying laps getting ruined and a lot of post qualifying penalties being handed out.

43

If a car is “limping in” there should be yellow flags shown – this is surely true at ANY circuit, regardless of the pitlane entrance design.

My understanding is that the danger comes when a car is fine but slows, from racing speed, to enter the pitlane and hit the pitlane speed limit line. This, so they say, will happen on the racing line, out of sight of a following car entering the curve and expecting to go through it at full chat.

An answer would be some VERY quick work with the flags (show a yellow as soon as anyone enters the pitlane). However, the relative lack of experience of local marshalls might leave this a little hit & miss – unless they put the more experienced marshalls from Australia on this duty…

44

No, that is the first safety car line. The put lane speed limited is much further along, before they enter the pit complex. They have to go much slower through the final corner if they enter the pit lane as they have to keep turning into the plane rather than getting on the gas and straight lining.

45

Are you saying that a scheduled tyre change is the only reason a car goes into the pits? What about for penalties and — even worse — if it needs to limp in with repairable accident damage (like a broken front wing), or a puncture.

The idea of a car coming round the long, blind corner 17 doing 80kph less than the rest of the field bearing down on it, makes my blood run cold.

46

The pit entry is almost bound to see a major accident over the weekend. I am extremely surprised that the layout of this part was FIA approved. But then it was designed by Tilke who can do no wrong and whose company laid the asphalt so very late so of course it was approved. Had it not been Tilke to loos a lot of money, then I am sure the race would not be happening this year.

With the emphasis on safety nowadays the pit lane entry is inexplicable, maybe forgotten until the last minute in the design. Accidents designed in.

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