The drivers’ briefing, which traditionally takes place on Friday evening during every Grand Prix, was particularly rich in discussion points in Le Castellet. Before the Grand Prix de France, several issues fueled the debates, from which some leaks emerged…
Paul Ricard’s pit lane
The drivers expressed their frustration after a change of direction imposed by race officials in the pit lane Circuit Paul Ricard. In previous years, the 60kph circuit ended just after the last garage used by the teams and drivers could then deactivate their limiter and then hit the gas. This despite the presence of another building in the continuity of the pit lane, but not used by the teams.
During the course inspection on Thursday, race director Eduardo Freitas and his assistant Niels Wittich saw this arrangement as dangerous, since a driver who loses control when accelerating again could end his race in the building or endanger personnel present in this area. They therefore decided to move the line to the actual exit of the pits and thus extend the zone limited to 60 km/h.
This change has two consequences for drivers and teams. The first is to increase the total duration of a pit stop from around 3.5 to 4 seconds, to question all the strategic simulations prepared before Thursday and to encourage teams to rely on one stop instead of two. The second concerns the exit from the pits, where the drivers have less momentum and therefore less speed to defend themselves in the race against the arrival of a competitor who is still on the track.
During Friday night’s drivers’ briefing, some questioned this change, also citing the increased speed differential between a car exiting the pits and a car entering the track, but the safety principle has motivated the race direction decision.
In addition, as confirmed by an updated version of the race director’s notes published this Saturday, a display in the form of an arrow has been installed at the exit of the pits to warn drivers on the track when a competitor leaves the track. .
The new signage at the exit of the grandstands.
“An electronic panel is installed above the pit wall next to the pit lane exit (to the driver’s right).”says Eduardo Freitas. “Whenever a car exits pit lane, this sign will display a left-pointing arrow to notify drivers on track that a car is exiting pit lane.”
Friday’s briefing was also an opportunity to discuss several other topics, most notably the “baguette” curbs that are installed on several corners of Paul Ricard’s circuit. Sebastian Vettel was the most concerned, recalling the injuries sustained by some young drivers in the promotion formula. Even the four-time world champion thought the white line was sufficient to delineate the track, but the FIA explained that the stripes had been put in place for the Porsche Supercup auxiliary race. Sebastian Vettel’s concerns were nevertheless heard when the elements on the exit of Turns 5 and 15 were removed.
consistency of penalties
The consistency of penalties imposed during races was also addressed. For example, images of Fernando Alonso moving in front of Valtteri Bottas on the final lap of the Canadian Grand Prix were re-broadcast before the drivers informally voted on whether the penalty imposed on the Spaniard seemed logical to them: all the drivers said yes, except for Fernando Alonso and his teammate Esteban Ocon.
The majority of drivers also approved of the penalty imposed on George Russell for his collision with Sergio Pérez at the first Austrian Grand Prix, and many of them also considered itAlexander Alban The Williams driver should have been sanctioned for the incident with Sebastian Vettel on the same weekend.
With Adam Cooper
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