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Kerb Your Enthusiasm: Austrian Grand Prix Kerb Controversy

Going into the Austrian Grand Prix, there is a lot of focus on the kerbs around the circuit. Rather than focusing on the pole-winning run of Lewis Hamilton or the front row qualifying run of Nico Hulkenberg, most of the event’s focus has been on a string of accidents. These accidents have occurred in practice and qualifying runs and all share one common issue: kerbs. Formula 1 drivers are having mixed reactions to the Austrian Grand Prix kerb situation.

Kerb Your Enthusiasm: Austrian Grand Prix Kerb Controversy

Leading the charge against the track’s kerbs is Mercedes. They are one of the team’s most directly affected by the kerbs, as they are being blamed for Nico Rosberg’s accident in practice. They maintain that the red kerbs cause suspension to break, rather than focusing on the yellow “sausage” kerbs beyond them.

Mercedes boss Toto Wolff said of the situation: “It looks like it’s the red kerbs, which are new, which triggers [suspension failure]”.

This position clashes with Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton’s statement regarding the yellow kerbs: “…for me looking at it those yellow kets look quite dangerous, we’ve now seen a couple incidents already”.

Red Bull driver Max Verstappen, another victim of a kerb-related accident, echoed Hamilton’s concerns. Verstappen said of the yellow kerbs: “I understand we have to respect track limits, but it’s better to put a wall there”.

Conflicting Opinions:

Not all drivers are convinced the kerbs are to blame. Front-row qualifier Nico Hulkenberg believes the kerbs to be just fine, stating “I didn’t touch them today”. Hulkenberg, as well as others, suggest that driver error is to blame for the accidents. He continued: “You have to be a bit reasonable as a driver, [Verstappen] was over the limit there, he shouldn’t go where he was going”.

Verstappen’s own team-mate, Daniel Ricciardo, echoed these statements. Ricciardo is vocally supportive of the kerbs, saying: “I don’t think they’re dangerous, I actually think they are quite good”. For Ricciardo, the difference appears to lie in how you approach the kerbs: “I am honestly treating it like a wall”. By all means, these kerbs represent a track limit and thus Ricciardo’s comments ring true.

With mixed reactions to the kerbs for the Austrian Grand Prix, only time would tell how Formula 1 will address these complaints. Regardless of conflicting opinions, Mercedes remains adamant that the kerbs be changed. Wolff said of the need to change the kerbs: “…we have seen a couple of failures on various cars with the various suspension design, and it still failed, I think there needs to be a reaction”.

The argument predominantly is that drivers should not be going far enough on the kerbs for them to be an issue. Footage of Daniil Kvyat’s accident show that the red kerbs cause a significant amount of vibration. This is the factor that is considered to be causing suspension failure.

The FIA’s Decision:

Time did tell with regards to the kerb issue. The governing body of F1 has since decided not to change the kerbs. With this outcome, it is clear that kerb issues are being considered driver error. Although drivers like Verstappen and Hamilton will be unhappy, other drivers will celebrate the enforcing of track limits. If the Austrian Grand Prix goes well, these harsher kerbs may become more common.


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