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A sad day at Monza


The Parabolica, one of the most iconic corners in motor sport has been tarmacked over

The move, which comes weeks before the Italian Grand Prix at the Autodromo Nazionale in Monza, was revealed on Twitter.

One of the great corners of Formula One, indeed motorsport, the Parabolica, along with the Curva Grande, the Lesmos, and the ultra high-speed straights, have made the circuit among the most iconic even if it has been somewhat emasculated over the years.

The final, long sweeping corner before the main straight, the Parabolica previously featured a massive gravel trap, though a strip of artificial grass has been added in recent years in order to penalise drivers who run wide and thereby gain an advantage.

However, the outside of the entire corner has now been covered in tarmac, a move which has already caused uproar amongst drivers.

"So the Monza Parabolica now has Tarmac run off on the outside - another great corner that will lose it's challenge," tweeted Karun Chandhok.

"Parabolica will never be the same corner again," added Jerome d'Ambrosio.

The move comes at a time when the future of the race at the circuit is said to be under threat, though many believe this is merely Bernie Ecclestone up to his usual tricks in order to raise the hosting fee.

Either way, it's a sad day.

Picture: Karun Chandhok/Twitter


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1. Posted by Jason.MZW20, 14/08/2014 9:36

"I find gravel traps in aero sensitive cars to be downright dangerous, especially at high speed, and Monza is a high-speed track. All they do is create a scenario where the car is out of control because of how uneven it is, and every time the tires come off of the ground, that's precious time lost to slow the car sufficiently. Kovalainen got to experience this at a different track and went UNDER a tire barrier and was stuck for a good amount of time.

If paving a gravel trap is emasculating a track, that's your opinion, but you're not the one risking your life for the entertainment of fans.

Should there be penalties for running off and gaining an advantage? Yes. I'm not opposed to a 5-10s stop/go penalty for repeat offenders.

At the end of the day we want to watch racers race, not see cars stuck in gravel traps from either the driver himself or by fault of another driver's mistake."

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2. Posted by gturner38, 09/08/2014 16:57

"What was left out of this piece is that the paving was done to make the corner safe for FIM Superbike which has seen bikes bounce over the tire wall. In that sense I can accept this. As for wanting to pave it over because we don't want the best drivers in the world to be out of the race, well the best drivers in the world shouldn't be throwing the car off the track. Had there been a gravel trap at Turn 2 in Hungary it's true that we would not have seen a great drive from Hamilton. Had it been grass or just a wall, we wouldn't have seen that drive either. The counter argument is that we would have seen the drivers who did the basic job of keeping the car on the track rewarded for their performance over someone who made a pretty significant mistake. I don't want to see drivers injured, so gravel is better than grass, but I have absolutely no problem with a driving error resulting in a DNF or at least a massive loss of time as the car is recovered.

The worst part about this will be when a series like Blancpain goes to the track. In endurance racing in particular there should be significant consequences to going off track. As it is, one particular amateur went off in his GT3 Ferrar at least 6 times in his hour stint this spring and kept on going despite the gravel. next year it will be an open invitation to push too hard."

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3. Posted by johnoneill2006, 09/08/2014 16:53

"Just to draw a line under this Imola/Tamburello/Ayrton Senna discussion - it already was tarmac/concrete. It wasn't a gravel trap.

Getting back on topic, I thought it was interesting what Martin Brundle said on twitter ("it's all about the corner, not the run-off") and some of the comments on here about drivers dropping out of the race for minor mistakes. I have a huge amount of respect for MB, but I completely disagree with him here.

Both of the comments are the equivalent of, to use an example, the Golf Majors removing all of the bunkers from the course, to:

a) Ensure that everyone can attack the course without any consequence if it goes wrong
b) Making sure that none of the key players can make a mistake and miss the cut of the tournament because if they are not there, it will upset the fans

Anyway - it seems like a change at Monza that didn't need to be made. Much like the 130R at Suzuka... one of the finest corners in F1 gone because of Alan McNish... :("

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4. Posted by MrShadow, 08/08/2014 19:11

"What would we have seen if the Tamburello had been tarmac runoff area? Exactly the same, with a broken steering you simply go where the car goes.
There are currently rules that drivers are not allowed to gain an advantage by leaving the track with 4 wheels.
In the past such a rule was not needed as it was simply impossible to do so.
And no, I would not mind seeing more drivers not make it until the end of the race. In fact that would give the teams at the back a lot mor chances to score a point or two."

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5. Posted by miss d'it, 08/08/2014 17:34

"Got to say i too agree with hobosport.
After parabolica, the best gravel trap is at Vale.
If you go too fast, brake late or try to be smart in an overtake, in you go, and as happened in 2012, when we subject to the wettest summer, rain quali on the Friday, rain on Sat (but the sun shone for the race), how many took to the gravel ? Loads, but that was because they pushed too hard (and those that didn't go in, well a good few hit the paint on the outside at Club and did beautiful spins. As i remember one who did it frequently was a certain M Schumacher, one of the legends, but as he showed, even legends make mistakes.

The track has 2sides to be raced inside of.
Otherwise we would have tracks a mile wide.
Or worse, why not have just a big oval to go round and round.
Oh, we have that already."

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6. Posted by Peter Rickitt, 08/08/2014 17:26

"Who decided this? And why? And can Pitpass get them to own up?
Over to you !"

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7. Posted by Podge, 08/08/2014 13:42

"Nope, I'm still not getting it. A race-destroying consequence for a 5m late breaking point or 5mph too high entry speed is ridiculous. Fine in rallying, where the race is against the clock, but I don't want to see LESS people racing in an F1 race!

If you want to see drivers pushing themselves and their cars to the limits, I'd suggest that tarmac run-offs are the very least of your worries, in a sport with jelly tyres and draconian restrictions on engines and gearboxes.

I used the Hamilton example as just that, an example. But let's look at it again. Starting in the pitlane means drivers don't get a warm-up lap. They start a race with cold breaks and cold tyres. There is very little a driver can do with cold breaks, whether they are called Sato or Senna. Would you really want a driver to pack up and head home because of that? But anyway, I'd say somebody who made up 18 places from the pitlane was most definitely the best racer on the day. You would sacrifice that just to see him in the gravel, heading back to the pitlane. Sounds thrilling! You've convinced me my view of F1 is wrong!

You know what I would have loved to have seen? Alonso and Vettel easing up on the old pit straight at Silverstone because they were wary of a gravel trap on the outside of Copse. That damn tarmac run-off really detracted from that battle. Not like the old days, I tell you.

I'd loved to have seen Hamilton back out of his move around the outside of Vergne at turn 4 in Hungary because he didn't want to go in a gravel trap.

I'd loved to have seen Ricciardo back out of his move around the outside of Hamilton at turn 2 in Hungary because he didn't want to get stuck in a gravel trap.

I'd loved to have seen Rosberg ease off at Bahrain because otherwise, he might have got stuck in a gravel trap and then people at home would go "YES...that...THAT is what F1 is about!".

If that is the view of the majority, then I'm glad I have my priorities right with the minority. "

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8. Posted by nonickname, 07/08/2014 17:47

"I must agree with Hobosport
.We are at a stage where any driver in F1 can attempt any corner in F1 knowing that he will probably get away with it as the run off will probably be big enough and if there is an accident the car is so safe he will walk away unhurt. Please understand that I do not wish to see drivers hurt but they are no longer "gladiators living on the edge" but over paid PR people fronting for corporations and surrounded by hype.
Very few (4?) could have lived with a 1 400 hp qualifying engine and a 5 speed manual gearbox in a 500 kg car."

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9. Posted by Ro, 07/08/2014 17:39

"I really dont see what has been done is a "mistake"...the challenge is still there, and the cornet will be a faster corner. If only Imola had built a run-off area at there's a thought, hey ?"

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10. Posted by Hobosport, 07/08/2014 15:55

"I won't argue that you are alone, but I do think your view of the sport differs from the majority. Something that the FIA in particular does not seem to grasp is that the majority of the Formula One world, fans, drivers, teams and media alike are not in the sport just for good, close racing. It's important, but it's not enough. There are other elements that define the sport, and make it worth doing at that level and with that much at stake.

Racing is supposed to take place within the confines of the track. Drivers are far more aware than you give them credit for when it comes to pushing. A driver will push harder if they know a mistake is unlikely to do much to hinder their race. Most drivers can limit their mistakes, but as they push harder the chances go up.

I would question your definition of "best racers". I'm of course not actually questioning that Hamilton is a fantastic racer or one of the best, but minimizing mistakes and knowing when or when not to push is a huge element of racing. If the corner had been gravel it is likely that Hamilton would have been more careful, but if he wasn't then on that day I would question his status as "best racer". Not overall, but on that day he pushed too hard and therefore was not the best racer.

When someone puts in a series of incredibly fast laps, whether it's Hamilton, Schumacher, Alonso or anyone else they are often described as qualifying laps. The reason for this is because a part of a great driver's skill set is knowing how far to push and knowing the limits of the car and track. Consistency is extremely important and at the Formula One level being able to drive quickly is simply not enough. Of course tracks aren't only for Formula One cars, but at the speed those cars are going small mistakes have larger consequences than they would in a lower formula. Missing something by even 1% or 2% just means a lot more in a Formula One car.

The point is that it is fully possible to drive around a Formula One track at racing speeds without making a significant enough mistake to go off the track. Just how fast a driver goes, however, is up to them. Taking risks to go faster is a big part of their job, but those risks are supposed to have real consequences. I'm not talking about safety, but consequences to their race. It's not much of a risk it only affects the corner your are in by a little, or in some cases perhaps not all.

The risk/reward scenario of pushing harder, but increasing the chances of a mistake is at the very heart of motorsport. If we begin to limit that risk while giving the same reward the entire situation loses value. We may see more action, but it simply worth less, devalued.

The best racer is the one who has the fastest consistent pace without making a mistake. The fastest driver is not necessarily the best racer. "

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11. Posted by Podge, 07/08/2014 13:05

"Am I alone in not having a problem with this? I don't want to see drivers beached in a gravel trap and having to retire. If we had gravel at turn 2 in Hungary it would have deprived us from seeing arguably the drive of the season from Hamilton.

I think people are getting swept away with the 'mistakes should be punished' mentality. In an F1 car, anyone can make a mistake at any time, and that isn't mentioning any kind of mechanical failure or glitch. If it takes the best racers out of a race, the same crowd will describe the race as boring.

The things are so damn fast that even the slightest mistake can cost a huge chunk of time."

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