F1 drivers critical of "annoying" modified final Sepang corner

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A number of F1 drivers have spoken out against the new layout of the final corner at Sepang, labelling it as "annoying", "strange" and "not fun".

The modifications to the hairpin at Turn 15, which have made it into an off-camber corner, have been arguably the most notable in a host of changes to Sepang ahead of the 2016 Malaysian Grand Prix.

And, after getting their first experience of navigating the modified final corner in practice on Friday, many drivers admitted they were not keen on the changes.

Manor's newcomer Esteban Ocon was among the harshest critics, saying the corner made for a "boring challenge".

"It's off-camber, totally," Ocon said. "You can't even take the apex. Front wheel is always in the air. It's totally the wrong way of taking a corner.

"It's a boring challenge. It's just going slow around the corner and just light. It's not fun."

His sentiments were echoed by Scuderia Toro Rosso's Carlos Sainz, who said: "It's not normal. I prefer the old one.

"The car pulls to one side because of the amount of banking, which is huge.

"Normally you would do the whole lap laying on the rear tires a lot and pushing like hell and suddenly you arrive to the last corner and everything that you had goes away. It's a bit of strange one, that's why I don't like it."

Renault's Jolyon Palmer dubbed the new Turn 15 "annoying", although conceded it made for an interesting challenge in terms of technique.

"It is an annoying last corner now," Palmer said.

"What they have done is not bad, in terms of making the track a bit interesting. But the way it is off camber means it is always frustrating because braking is difficult... Very easy to make mistakes in locking and lighting it all up in exit. It is annoying to drive.

"But it is a more interesting corner from a technical point of view. The nature of it means you never feel like you have nailed it because it is a bit scrappy."

 

2016 Sepang International Circuit upgrade
2016 Sepang International Circuit upgrade

Photo by: Dromo

Overtaking

Jarno Zaffelli of Dromo Engineering, the company that was in charge of changes to Sepang, said the new final corner would "allow amazing overtaking manoeuvres due to the particular profile".

After the first day of action, F1 drivers were split on whether or not that would be the case.

Said Palmer: "For overtaking, definitely it is not bad. But you have a massive straight with DRS after it so you don’t want to fire one in and get a rubbish exit as you will get done on the exit."

Haas driver Romain Grosjean, however, was not convinced. "I don't know, it may make it [overtaking] worse," the Frenchman said.

Williams veteran Felipe Massa, meanwhile, suggested a lot of drivers would find themselves "sideways" in the corner when engaged in a battle.

"Maybe you will try to pass because of the DRS that will help you," Massa said,

"But it's true that, if somebody is fighting under braking in that corner and braking very late, you will see a lot of lockings, a lot of, maybe, cars going sideways."

Additional reporting by Jonathan Noble and Oleg Karpov

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