MONZA, September 5th, 2014 (F1Plus / Rosie Baillie) - On Thursday drivers revealed they had mixed reactions about changes to the run-off area at Parabolica.
Part of the gravel run-off area at the final corner of the Autodromo Nazionale Monza has been replaced with tarmac. The FIA said the changes were made on the grounds of safety.
Force India’s Sergio Perez was most critical of the changes. The Mexican didn’t think the corner was risky and felt it was a shame that they’d lost the gravel run-off area.
“Personally I am not really happy, because I think the opinion I have is that we were not at risk, the integrity of the driver was never at risk at Parabolica,” Perez said.
“It was more a driver error that you could do there – lock the wheels, get a moment on the way out, whatever – and then you are stuck in the gravel which I think is a nice thing. Obviously Parabolica was an iconic part of Monza so it is a shame we lost it. I don’t understand why we lost it.”
Valtteri Bottas felt the corner was now less exciting because it removed some of the risk.
“I really think last year it was maybe a bit more challenging in a way because on the exit we were always going with the outside wheels just on the white line and you knew that if you went a couple of centimetres too wide that that would be it, you would go off,” Bottas explained.
“but now it doesn't matter if you go a bit over the white line, you just need to keep at least two wheels on the track and that's it. It's still a good track. It's just that one corner is less exciting.”
Marussia’s Max Chilton echoed Bottas’ comments and said it felt like drivers could get away with making a mistake at the final corner.
“I'm not a huge fan of it. I think it's maybe allowed us to go for slightly more risky overtakes but I don't see why they needed to extend it so far around,” Chilton said.
“As Valtteri [Bottas] said, it was a bit of spice, the old circuit, where we used to run up against the white line and if you went slightly too far you would hit the gravel and you knew it was over.
“Now, to me, it looks like we can get away with it so I'm not a big fan of it but that's the way it is.”
Kevin Magnussen didn’t think that gravel didn’t pose any more of a risk than tarmac in that section.
“I think it adds to the experience of driving at circuits if there is a little bit of a bigger consequence of going off the circuit. I'm not saying we should compromise safety but in my opinion, I don't think we're making the track more unsafe by having gravel there,” Magnussen said.
Lewis Hamilton looked at both sides of the argument and said that while he prefers circuits where there’s no tarmac run-off, safety is paramount.
“I think the FIA are very very conscious of safety and I think that's nothing to shy away from,” Hamilton said.
“I think that's a very very important issue but I'm old school, so I like the old circuits, back in the nineties when there was no tarmac run-off areas, where it was grass, because even last year, here, when you went round that corner, I experienced it last year, I went wide through a mistake and you pay for the mistake.
“But what is really important is that of course if you do have an incident the tarmac does slow the car down better, so that is a good move but you can't win, both sides.”
Nico Rosberg appeared to be the driver most in favour of the changes saying that the corner was previously ‘risky’.
“It was one of the more risky corners that we still had in our calendar so it definitely makes things a lot safer and that is the right direction to go in,” said Rosberg.
Fernando Alonso added that he wasn’t aware that the GPDA (Grand Prix Drivers’ Association) had discussed the changes to the corner.
“As far as I know, I don't think so,” Alonso said. “There have been some discussions in the past for the entry, probably in case you have a brake failure or something to have the possibility to not go straight, just into the gravel and hit the tyres but probably from mid- to exit of the corner, that was probably a surprise for us also.
“Which it still is I think. Artificial grass on mid- to exit which before probably we said that we can put two wheels out of the track and two inside and don't pay a big price but I don't agree.
“I think if you put two wheels now, you will go on that artificial grass and you have to back off because you have a snap on the car and you need to back off, so you still need to be a few centimetres from that artificial grass now to do a perfect corner.”