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Qatar Grand Prix 2023

F1 driver frustration over Qatar safety issues 'understandable' - FIA

Teams and drivers were notified only shortly before changes were announced on Sprint Saturday.

Nielsen Tombazis
To news overview © XPBimages

FIA Single Seater Director Nicolas Tombazis has conceded frustration from drivers over not being consulted about safety changes made ahead of the Qatar Grand Prix Sprint is "understandable".

Major tyre issues found after stringent analysis by supplier Pirelli after practice at the Lusail International Circuit determined any running past 20 laps would present a safety issue, with the risk of blowouts increased by separation in the compound.

Ahead of the Sprint Shoutout, the FIA communicated a raft of measures to combat the issue, including track limit adjustments at Turns 12 and 13 and a special 10-minute familiarisation session to adjust to the layout variations.

But a meeting convened between the drivers, understood to be led by Grand Prix Drivers' Association Chairman Alex Wurz, was held amid frustration that there was no prior consultation over the issues - with it believed drivers and teams had been informed only shortly before the FIA statement was released.

Addressing the concerns when speaking to Sky Sports F1, Tombazis said: "It is understandable, they drive the cars and they want to make sure they're safe and safety is absolutely our number one priority.

"We did consider modifying the kerbs but from the time we had last night, very late at night, to today, it would not have been possible.

"There were not one or two single kerbs, it was quite an extent - they would have had to have been filed-off and that's very hard concrete, that would not have been possible.

"So on that basis, the next thing we got was to actually get the cars to stay a bit further away from the kerbs, which is what we've done by changing the white line."

Circuit not to blame

The vigorous 'pyramid' kerbs used at Lusail had come under scrutiny ahead of the weekend with AlphaTauri's Yuki Tsunoda labelling them as 'floor destroyers'.

But alleviating the circuit and kerbs of blame, Tombazis explained: "To be clear, the kerb used is of an FIA specification.

"The track has done a good job of putting together everything, so we have got no complaints against the track, they have used all the guidelines.

"These interactions between tyres and kerbs can be very complicated and can depend on a lot of relatively subtle details, which obviously, indicate that we need to do more research there to improve the situation further, both from a tyre and kerb point of view."

F1 2023 Qatar Grand Prix RN365 News dossier


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