In previous years, if drivers overshot Turn 1, they could easily rejoin the track beyond Turn 2 and merge back into traffic without much trouble.
However, for this year’s Grand Prix weekend, the FIA decided to extend the barrier’s end to prevent out-of-control cars, potentially caused by mechanical failures, from veering across into the path of exiting traffic at Turn 2.
With this alteration, drivers who ran wide had two options: either bounce across the grass, maneuver around the new barrier, make a sharp right turn onto the track, or effectively execute a U-turn in the runoff area, heading back towards the traffic before turning right onto the track.
Both choices were utilized on Friday, and during the drivers’ briefing in the evening, the topic was extensively discussed. Lewis Hamilton reportedly remarked that he had never witnessed an accident of the kind that the barrier extension aimed to prevent.
Although removing the new section was considered, the barrier remained in place for Saturday’s track activities, during which there were more incidents at the corner.
However, adjustments were made for Sunday’s race. The final 4 meters of the barrier were removed, making it easier for drivers to rejoin the track safely and at a higher point from Turn 2.
“The initial change was implemented to prevent the possibility of a car going off at T1 and crossing the exit of T2 at high speed, potentially causing a side-impact collision,” explained an FIA spokesperson to Autosport.
“After discussing it with the drivers, we decided to make this adjustment to facilitate easier rejoining and we will further refine this solution for future events.”
Before the Sunday modification was officially confirmed, drivers expressed their opinion that they should have more input in track changes.
“We all talked about it last night,” said GPDA director George Russell when asked about the barrier.
“In hindsight, we should probably have been consulted regarding our opinions on it before decisions were made. We all agree that it’s not the optimal solution.”
“It’s one of those situations where you’re left scratching your head, trying to understand the reasoning behind it,” said Alex Albon.
“I went off there on Friday, and I explored it quite a bit over the past two days! It was actually a well-designed corner before the change if you went off. Now it’s clearly more dangerous than it was before.
“If the drivers had a say in it, we probably could have prevented it from happening in the first place. It’s definitely a topic that we, as the GPDA, have extensively discussed with them.”
Yuki Tsunoda, one of the drivers who went off at Turn 1 over the weekend, acknowledged the initial modification to the barrier but also voiced concerns about its potential dangers.
“Everyone has mentioned it; it’s incredibly dangerous,” he said. “I believe the FIA also understands this, but I also understand their perspective and why they made the change.
“Lewis and I were discussing how it has been the same for the past 20 years. There’s definitely a positive aspect to what they’ve done, as it helps avoid T-bone collisions when someone experiences a major brake failure or similar incidents.
“But at the same time, there are increased chances of overshooting the outside of Turn 1 and rejoining straight into Turn 2, which can also lead to more T-bone incidents.”
Oscar Piastri from McLaren also had firsthand experience with the escape route: “I’ve gone through the grass myself once, and the rejoin was far from safe, even with my best efforts. I’ve also witnessed other attempts to follow, and it’s quite astonishing. So, I hope the barrier goes.”
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about Turn 1 barrier
Why did the FIA revise the Montreal Turn 1 barrier?
The FIA revised the Montreal Turn 1 barrier in response to complaints from F1 drivers. They extended the barrier to prevent out-of-control cars from crossing into exiting traffic at Turn 2.
What were the options for drivers who ran wide?
Drivers who ran wide had two options: bouncing across the grass, going around the new barrier, and taking a hard right turn onto the track, or executing a U-turn in the runoff area, heading back towards the traffic, and then turning right onto the track.
Was the barrier change effective?
The barrier change initially raised concerns among drivers. More incidents occurred at the corner on Saturday. However, adjustments were made on Sunday, removing the final 4 meters of the barrier to make it easier for drivers to rejoin the track safely.
Did the drivers have a say in the track changes?
Drivers expressed their opinion that they should have been consulted before decisions were made regarding the barrier changes. They believed they could have provided valuable input to prevent the situation in the first place.
What were the concerns raised by drivers?
Drivers highlighted the potential dangers of the modified barrier. While it aimed to prevent side-impact collisions, there were increased chances of overshooting Turn 1 and rejoining directly into Turn 2, potentially leading to more T-bone incidents.