Frank Williams is in favour of the new tarmac run-off areas that some circuits have introduced to replace the traditional gravel traps. The Williams team boss thinks drivers can be slightly cautious at attempting an overtake for fear of damaging...
Frank Williams is in favour of the new tarmac run-off areas that some circuits have introduced to replace the traditional gravel traps. The Williams team boss thinks drivers can be slightly cautious at attempting an overtake for fear of damaging the car but the tarmac run-offs encourage more ambitious moves.
While landing in a gravel trap in the event of a mistake can end a driver's race, the tarmac gives the opportunity to keep going without losing too much time.
"It's difficult to pass with these cars, but most of the circuits haven't developed as quickly as the chassis," Williams said. "Today's circuits are very safe, but drivers don't want to go for the limit because they're scared of damaging the bodywork or undertray if they go off."
"But having a tarmac escape road means that if you go beyond the limit, you just lose a few seconds and start again. The first corner at Indianapolis is like that, and it's no coincidence that you see spectacular duels there. And the new Hockenheim circuit has been built with this philosophy."
Renault's Jenson Button recently expressed doubt about the new look tarmac as it could be dangerous in a brake failure situation but more circuits are adopting the idea. The redesigned Paul Ricard circuit in France has been billed as the safest and most technologically advanced circuit there is and features a complete lack of gravel traps.
The run off areas are painted in alternate bright blue, black and red stripes, each of which is covered in a different grade of high-friction asphalt. "The run off areas are very high-tech," said BAR's Olivier Panis. "There are different grades of coloured tarmac and they slow the car down at very high speed but you can still recover the car and get back on track easily."