Featured Is Eau Rouge Too Dangerous?

Discussion in 'Motorsports' started by Jimlaad43, May 10, 2018.

  1. Jimlaad43

    Jimlaad43
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    EauRouge1024.jpg
    Eau Rouge - Raidillon is often near the top of everyone's list of the best corners in the world, but are modern car getting too fast for it?

    It has always been a challenging corner with little margin for error, and large consequences for those who get it wrong. But, after three high profile accidents during the latest WEC 6 Hours of Spa round, some people have started to ask the question, "Is Eau Rouge too Dangerous?"

    During Qualifying, an electrics failure in the DragonSpeed BR Engineering-Gibson BR1 LMP1 caused Pietro Fittipaldi to understeer off halfway through the corner, suffering a sickening crash into the tyre wall, that broke the Brazilian's legs.

    During the race itself, Harry Tincknell suffered a very similar accident in his Ford GT, hitting the tyres, but emerging unscathed.

    During the latter part of the race, Matevos Isaakyan's SMP Racing BR Engineering BR1-AER LMP1 ran wide and took to the inside through Raidillon. The car clipped the ripple strips and was sent into a horrific double backflip across the track, thankfully landing the correct side of the tyre walls and with Isaakyan emerging without injury.

    Lots of high-speed corners around the world have a list of large accidents, but few rival that of Eau Rouge. Just talking Formula 1, you can ask the likes of Jacques Villeneuve, Alex Zanardi, Ryan Briscoe, Giancarlo Fisichella, Ricardo Zonta, Kevin Magnussen, Adrian Sutil and Gerhard Berger what it's like to crash at one of the fastest corners in the world. If you look through GP2, GP3, DTM, WEC, Blancpain GT, you'll see that you can't have a small crash at Eau Rouge. If you go off there, it is usually huge.

    So what is the issue? Is it the corner itself? Is it inadequate runoff? Why are have drivers been breaking legs or backflipping here?

    The simple answer is the high-speed nature of the corner and the small runoff. The geography of the hills behind the corner means that the runoff area that currently exists is too small to slow cars down in the event of an accident. If you look at the size of the runoff at corners like Copse and Abbey at Silverstone, Campsa at Barcelona, Turn 5 at Hungary and many other high-speed corners, you'll see that they have massive space for cars to slide into, but you'll also see that cars still hit the walls there hard. As much as large runoff areas are hated by fans, when you see something like the 2016 British Grand Prix, where everyone was spinning off at Turn 1, you'll see that the large runoff areas are needed on circuits that Formula 1 cars race on.

    But, extending the runoff at Eau Rouge isn't an option, financially in terms of the amount it would cost to flatten the cliffs and also because of the large fan uproar it would cause.

    Runoff is designed to slow cars down in a safe manner. This is why most of them are all tarmac rather than gravel. Yes, we all want to see gravel traps because it stops cars abusing track limits, but you just need to ask Ricardo Zonta about why gravel at Eau Rouge is a terrible idea. Gravel is fantastic at slowing down cars with high floors, such as touring cars, and is the preferred surface for bikes. But for flat floored cars, such as single seaters, GT and LMP's, it can do two things. If the car comes in flat, it skates over the top and starts bouncing, and cars do not slow down while in the air. If the car has significant sideways momentum, or is at an angle, it will start to roll, leading to spectacular accidents, but the real chance of the out of control vehicle escaping the confines of the race track, putting Marshals, Photographers and Spectators at risk.

    No, the solution for accidents like Fittipaldi's is improved impact absorption techniques. The wall he hit had a tyre wall made up of 4 rows of tyres. This seems like an oddly small number for one of the biggest hit points in the world. Despite hitting the tyres at an oblique angle, which effectively increases the number of tyres in front of the car, this doesn't allow the car to slow down in a long enough time. Stowe at Silverstone, for example, has tarmac and a gravel trap double the distance away from the point where cars would lose it than at Eau Rouge, and has 5 rows of foam filled tyre wall, plus Tecpro that is installed for Formula 1 and the WEC.
    tecpro2.jpg
    Tecpro barriers. Grey ones are filled with foam to absorb energy, red is hollow, and uses an air cushion to increase the time of deceleration.

    Tyre walls and Tecpro are both fantastic barriers for containing cars and slowing them down safely, and on a corner such as Eau Rouge, it needs more than 4 tyres. 6 or 7 rows would be adequate, but Tecpro either replacing the tyres, or used in conjunction with, would be ideal. It was designed to be better than tyre walls, and has proven itself to be.

    isaakyan1.jpg
    Isaakyan taking flight.

    But, tyre walls have nothing to do with the other scary accident from the weekend. Track limits through Raidillon are a massive sticking point. Especially in cars that can almost take the right-hander flat, cutting the top of the corner is very easy to do, and has a massive effect on lap time due to the long straight afterwards. Just ask any staff member running a race here at Spa, track limits through there is a horrible thing to deal with because everyone does it every so often.

    Spa has tried to install sausage kerbs there to stop drivers cutting, but drivers have always derided them for fear of an accident such as the one Isaakyan suffered. The argument of "we need that runoff in case of a genuine need to go there" is very strong. In motorsports, if you put runoff and walls anywhere, no matter how random, someone will eventually hit it.

    This wasn't even the first time a car has backflipped off the thin ripple strips placed there. In an F3 race in 2016, Nikita Zlobin (coincidentally, also racing in an SMP Racing car) had a similar accident.


    So the rumble strips simply don't work. They don't deter drivers from running wide enough, and when they do their job, the consequences are too severe.

    Gravel is not an option for this section. As stated before, as much of a deterrent as it would be, it would cause more large accidents than it already does. There is a good reason we don't have gravel anywhere nowadays.

    Astroturf (artificial grass) is another substance used on the exits of corners. It has less grip than tarmac, which does have the intended effect of making drivers think twice about touching it, but it has two main drawbacks. 1: When wet it is almost a one-way ticket to the nearest tyre wall, 2: it can easily get ripped up, becoming an extra danger. The gradient change of the corner would make it very easy to rip the astroturf, making it again unfeasible.

    However, I think the solution to all the problems of Eau Rouge can be found at one of the most paulricardoffic.jpg
    Paul Ricard High Tech Test Track

    Paul Ricard has oceans of blue and red tarmac runoff surrounding the track, but it is more than just regular tarmac. Tungsten is added to the mixture as it is laid, creating a more abrasive surface. This is moderate in the blue, and extreme in the red. This increases friction between the tyres and the ground, which slows the car down, while also wearing the tyres more. This also makes track limits abuse a risk for fear of damaging tyres. This, I feel, is the solution to Eau Rouge's issues.

    The runoff at the top of the hill being made this abrasive tarmac will allow people to have "safe" accidents at that point, while also creating a penalty for those who run wide. The increased friction will slow cars down slightly, negating the speed increase from taking the shorter line and increase tyre wear. It gives a penalty for cutting, without the risk of aeroplane crashes.

    In conclusion, Eau Rouge is on the limit of becoming unsafe again. Cars are getting faster every season, and circuits just have to evolve as well. As much as we hate large runoff areas, they are needed, regardless of opinion. Gravel is becoming obsolete because other options are better. New technologies are not needed to improve the safety of the corner, just looking at other tracks and improving what is already there is all that we require. I don't think the corner itself needs to be touched at all. Just fix what is around it.

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    What do you think? Would you be sad to see the corner removed? Do you agree with my ideas? Discuss down below...
     
    Last edited by a moderator: May 15, 2018
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  2. neuer31

    neuer31

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    I saw that incident with the speed bumps, they must be changed so this (getting airborne) can't happen again.

    I don't think Eau Rouge is too dangerous, it is racing, it is and always was dangerous and every high speed crash can cause that kinda damage. The drivers are aware of it and agree to it.

    There is enough of tirewall there in my opinion - the only thing that could be looked at is using a higher tirewall, as it seems that cars sometimes flip over it ... and maybe a different material.
     
    Last edited: May 16, 2018
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  3. Tom Blackett

    Tom Blackett
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    Man up or take up knitting instead if you can't handle it.
     
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  4. Brownninja97

    Brownninja97

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    The raised white lines off the track are the main issue, they seem to disrupt the air enough so that air goes under the car, its not a flaw with the LMP1 car, its meant to keep people from going off line however its very dangerous.

    That corner is however dangerous, drivers know they are in big trouble if they crash there. Due to its placement it would be hard to find a solution for it, im not sure extra run off would fix the problem, flattening it would cause outcry.

    I do agree with tecpro barriers, even with the extra safety it proves if you ignore that its still got one big advantage, its not a hazard to walk on. I've heard too many horror stories of a driver trying to go over the tyres to get to the other side of the barrier, they are in a shaken state after a crash so the last thing they need is extra hazards to reach safety.
     
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  5. MotherDawg

    MotherDawg

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    That is funny!
    I had one clip, Moss and Stewart talking about safety but I just saw the F3 clip and... been there... done that!

    Enough sanitation! Now a days, every thing is insurance. If there is a push for more safety, it does not come from the racers. it comes from been counters. If we let these people do their things, they'll put halos on Formula VEEs.

    ENOUGH! Bunch of imbeciles.

    So I got 2 clips:

     
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  6. Dr. Death

    Dr. Death

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    Im one of those that dont mind the halo if its for driver safety. That being said, race cars as it is are EXTREMELY safe and changing the trakc layout to something less interesting to drive and see just to stop an accident that has a small % of happening is stupid.
     
  7. Jimlaad43

    Jimlaad43
    Nice apex, I'll take it! Staff Premium

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    If you'll notice, at no point did I say the corner needs to be changed. It's just the state of the runoff I'm talking about.
     
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  8. k_badam

    k_badam
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    Who are "some people", the people i talk to and even some of the nut jobs that religiously follow the iRacing forums and twitter don't say it's too dangerous.

    With safety at the level it is now and cars getting more and more downforce, it's is safe as it ever has been (apart from when they added a chicane to it). Run off is fine to me, as you say, the barriers we have at the moment are working quite well, adding curbs however, i don't think is clever. The guys that run the track either have to pick between occasional corner cutting or a much higher risk of accident due to silly sausage curbs.

    In the case of Fittipaldi's crash, There seems to be quite a hill behind the track there, and a building behind it, so changing the runoff might be quite tricky, although the fact that his car had issues probably has a bigger part to play in that crash, as in Tincknell's crash he got away fine.
     
  9. BoogerMac

    BoogerMac

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    I see no problems here...he landed cleanly. Should've Romain Grojean'd the car so he would've maintained speed. Explains why that driver is a "sim" racer and not real like Grojean.
     
  10. Tbear

    Tbear
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    Great article!

    IF
    there is enough room for this abrasive tarmac to work it's a great idea. I'd rather see this then watch a road grader destroy yet another race track .... or watch somebody die.
     
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  11. Richard Dastardly

    Richard Dastardly
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    How about enforcing track limits as a deterrent, that might be an inexpensive thing to try...

    Harry had the same accident as Stefan Bellof, cars are safe enough for Eau Rouge I think.
     
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  12. NASCRAP

    NASCRAP

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    I miss the old Panoz prototypes. You're not likely to have broken legs when you have an engine cushioning the blow for you.
     
  13. xon3

    xon3

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    Its funny how people after all these years still can't distinguish a gladiator from a race car driver.
    Racing can be safe and entertaining ... actually isn't that one of the great things about sim racing? oops
     
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  14. 147852369

    147852369

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    The problem is not the corner but the cars. Fittipaldi shouldn't have his legs broken because he crashed in a tyre wall at about 200kph, Kubica crashed in a wall at 250kph 10 years ago and he had no leg injuries.
    The other car should never take off like it did, another bad design, FIA has to investigate both incidents.
    Oh and the Paul Ricard stripes don't work at all, if you've ever seen a race there you will know, cars can go over it without any problem.
     
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  15. Jimlaad43

    Jimlaad43
    Nice apex, I'll take it! Staff Premium

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    I mean, this is the most obvious answer, but you just need to watch Sebastian Vettel at pretty much every corner where you can track limit abuse and you'll realise there's no way the FIA will enforce that.
     
  16. Patrik Marek

    Patrik Marek
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    well, .. it's certainly difficult corner, even in sim-racing, it's corner where it's really easy to make a mistake :)

    I really love the idea of the more abrasive surface a-la Paul Richard, but there's not that much of a run off there - is it ?
     
  17. Jamiedh303

    Jamiedh303

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    Risky? yes.
    Dangerous? Depends
     
  18. muzikant

    muzikant

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    Racen is like sex it must be dangerous
     
  19. Richard Dastardly

    Richard Dastardly
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    I've said it before - he was *off the track*. You can't sensibly design a car to behave properly off the place it was designed to be. If he'd not driven it off the track it wouldn't have flipped.
     
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  20. LilSki

    LilSki
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    Corner is fine but I think the tire walls are some of the problem. As shown in the WEC race the car "fetched" up in the tire wall and came to a very abrupt stop. I think they could take some lessons from NASCAR here and implement a section of SAFER barrier. Using the SAFER wall it will give on contact and also allow the cars to "glance off" and continue to roll and slowly dissipate the energy.

    [​IMG]

     
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