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Albert Park Turn 6 Safety Concerns Rise After Incident

Should Turn 6 at Albert Park Be Redesigned for Safety?

04/04/2024

After a controversial incident at Albert Park’s Turn 6, discussions about track safety intensify, sparking debates among drivers and officials.

Beyond the debate over the penalty given to Fernando Alonso for the collision with George Russell in Melbourne, there’s rising concern about safety at Turn 6 of the Albert Park circuit. Mercedes F1 driver was sent back onto the track, a scenario we’ve seen in F2 or last year with Alex Albon, worrying Carlos Sainz.

“I think, apart from all that, this turn needs to be reviewed. It’s something I’ve already mentioned in the last drivers’ briefing. It’s not the first time a car has crashed and returned to the track,” Sainz stated.

“It’s a turn where we drive at 250 km/h. I don’t like the recent incidents we’ve seen, including in other categories. It doesn’t give me a good feeling. It’s a great turn, make no mistake.”

“I love taking it during a qualifying lap, but it’s just when it comes to racing. There have been too many examples of cars returning to the track because it was very narrow; it’s a turn that needs to be looked at.”

“Making it safer while maintaining the speed”

Daniel Ricciardo believes action is needed on this turn, whether modifying the track or just the surroundings. The RB F1 driver hopes, however, that the curve’s profile remains unchanged.

“I love this turn; it’s very, very fun. In qualifications, you have to downshift to sixth and go back to full throttle, so it’s a turn that requires courage. The only thing I don’t like is that, as we’ve seen, when you have an accident, you return to the track.”

“So yes, I don’t like that scenario. From a pure driving perspective, it’s an extraordinary turn, so I don’t want that to change. But, of course, the safety isn’t good. We saw it last year with Albon as well… Unfortunately, it’s a type of turn that’s very vulnerable to a big accident.”

“If they have to change it, if that’s the only way to improve safety, then yes, they have to do it. But if they can make it safer while keeping the speed and everything related to it, then that’s my vote.”

The curb’s profile might also contribute to this scenario, though its occurrence in F2 shows it’s not dependent on the type of car: “The problem is the curb. As soon as you go slightly over the curb, with the current cars, they bottom out and there’s no room to take a wider line.”

“You have to hit that curb perfectly, or you end up in the barrier. Then, with the blind corner… luckily, George had no one behind him because otherwise, I don’t see how the car behind could have avoided the incident.”

Albon also blames the curb’s profile: “Especially with these low cars now, anything we hit, we can use the first part of the curb, but if you go too far and hit the second part, it launches the car. So there are two things that could be improved.”

Exploring other solutions before the last resort

This turn is among the curves modified during the post-Covid renovations in Melbourne, and it would seem regrettable to revert those changes. Oscar Piastri believes solutions must be found, possibly reconsidering the wall’s angle.

“There might be two or three things we could improve,” Piastri added. “We’ve seen a number of accidents where cars were sent back onto the track, which we discussed, and I think that needs to be addressed. Maybe just the angle of the wall or even the speed of the turn.”

“It’s obviously quite a fast turn now. So that’s something we’ve talked about with the FIA. And we’ll see what happens. But yes, there have probably been a bit too many accidents with cars ending up in the middle of the track not to do something about it.”

The main person involved, George Russell, hopes it won’t come to changing the curve’s layout: “The turn is amazing, probably one of the best turns on this circuit, so I wouldn’t want that turn to change.”

“But it’s not just this turn. I think on all circuits where barriers are placed in certain locations, if they propel you onto the track, that’s obviously not a good thing.”

“And we don’t want big run-off areas. We don’t want asphalt run-offs. I think everything is correct. The position of this wall, even if it’s closer to the track but aligned with the circuit, at least allows not to bounce back onto the racing line.”

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