In previous years, drivers who overshot Turn 1 at the Montreal Grand Prix could easily rejoin the track after Turn 2 without posing a significant risk to themselves or other drivers.
However, this year, the FIA decided to extend the end of the barrier at Turn 1 to prevent out-of-control cars, potentially caused by mechanical failures, from veering into traffic exiting Turn 2.
Due to this alteration, drivers who ran wide had a few options. They could either navigate across the grass and maneuver around the new barrier to make a sharp right turn onto the track, or they could perform a U-turn in the run-off area, heading back towards the traffic, before eventually turning right onto the track.
Both options were utilized on Friday, and during the drivers’ briefing in the evening, the topic was extensively discussed. Lewis Hamilton apparently remarked that he had never witnessed an accident of the type the barrier extension was intended to prevent.
The possibility of removing the new section was considered, but the barrier remained in place for Saturday’s track activities, which saw more incidents at the corner.
However, adjustments were made for Sunday’s race. The final 4 meters of the barrier were removed to facilitate safer reentry onto the track, further ahead and away from Turn 2.
An FIA spokesperson told Autosport, “The initial change was implemented to prevent the scenario of a car going off at Turn 1 and crossing the exit of Turn 2 at high speed, potentially causing a collision with another car. Following discussions with the drivers, we are making this change to allow for easier rejoining, and we will continue to refine this solution for future events.”
Before the Sunday modification was officially confirmed, drivers expressed their belief that they should have more input when track changes are being considered.
“We all discussed it last night,” said GPDA director George Russell when asked about the barrier.
“In hindsight, we probably should have been consulted about our views before decisions were made. We all agree that it’s not ideal.”
“It’s one of those things that leave you scratching your head, trying to understand the reasoning behind it,” commented Alex Albon.
“I went off there on Friday, I explored 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 been involved, we could have prevented it from happening in the first place. It’s definitely something we, as the GPDA, have discussed with them extensively.”
Yuki Tsunoda, one of the many drivers who went off at Turn 1 over the weekend, acknowledged the reasons behind the initial modification of the barrier.
“Everyone has mentioned it; it’s very dangerous,” he said. “I think in the end, the FIA also understands, but I can also see their perspective and why they did it.
“Both Lewis and I have mentioned that it has been the same for the past 20 years. There are definitely positive aspects to what they’ve done, particularly when there’s a major brake failure or something similar, as we can avoid a T-bone collision.
“But at the same time, there’s a higher chance of overshooting the outside of Turn 1 and coming back directly into Turn 2, which can also lead to more T-bone incidents.”
Oscar Piastri of McLaren experienced the escape route himself, stating, “I’ve ended up in the grass once, and it was not the safest way to rejoin the track, despite my best efforts. I’ve also witnessed other attempts to follow suit, and it’s quite unbelievable. So, I hope they remove the wall.”
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about Turn 1 barrier modification
What changes were made to the Turn 1 barrier in Montreal?
The FIA extended the end of the barrier to prevent cars that were out of control from crossing into traffic exiting Turn 2. The final 4 meters of the barrier were later removed to facilitate safer reentry onto the track.
Why were these changes made?
The changes were made in response to driver complaints and concerns about potential collisions caused by cars spearing across into traffic. The FIA aimed to enhance track safety and minimize risks.
Were the changes effective in addressing the concerns?
While the changes initially received mixed feedback from drivers, adjustments were made based on their feedback. The final modification allowed for easier rejoining onto the track and addressed some of the safety concerns raised by the drivers.
Did the drivers have a say in the track changes?
Some drivers expressed the opinion that they should have been consulted before the changes were implemented. They felt that their input could have helped prevent the issues in the first place and suggested more involvement from drivers in future track modifications.
How did the modification affect the track events?
There were more incidents at the corner during Saturday’s track activities, when the barrier was still in place. However, the adjustments made for Sunday’s race aimed to improve safety by removing a section of the barrier, making it easier for drivers to rejoin the track safely.