Turn 13 claimed two victims. Carlos Sainz on Friday, Esteban Ocon on Saturday. Both drivers complain of injuries, Alpine a broken chassis. Teams and drivers are calling for protection from the wall in this area, but the FIA is not responding.
The spot actually looks harmless. Turn 13 is a left-hand bend, driven at 140 km/h in third gear. He is joined by the chicane. An unprotected wall lurks outside on the short straight in between. And that's exactly what claimed two victims. Carlos Sainz on Friday and Esteban Ocon on Saturday. Both accidents were almost identical. The drivers lost their rear end and spun backwards into the concrete wall. The left wheels of both cars were knocked off.
Despite the relatively low speed, the telemetry showed high deceleration peaks. 47g at Sainz, 51g at Ocon. If the wall had been protected by Tecpro or a tire stack, that would have taken a lot of energy from the impact.
Alpine chassis has to go in the autoclave
Carlos Sainz complained of pain in his neck and hips after the impact. Ocon bruised his knee on the steering wheel. The steering angle was so unfavorable that the left front suspension penetrated the chassis of the A522 and severely damaged the carbon tube. "We can only repair the chassis at the Enstone factory. That's a 10-12 day job. The chassis has to go back into the autoclave," said Operations Manager Alan Permane.
Both drivers attributed their injuries and the massive damage to the cars to the severity of the impact. Sainz addressed the case at the drivers' briefing and called for a Tecpro barrier as a safeguard. He fell on deaf ears with FIA race director Niels Wittich. He informed the Spaniard that the simulations of the FIA accident experts had shown that no protection from the wall was necessary at this particular point.
No room for route changes
Sainz replied that in life you cannot blindly rely on simulations. Reality doesn't always match the world of data. This is evident often enough in vehicle development. Wittich also referred to his simulations, which had shown that Tecpro could even be counterproductive at this point, because the car never turns frontally, but always at a gentle angle and can get caught with the front axle and turn sideways. This poses the risk of a rear-end collision in the race. Sainz countered this again: "I didn't hit forwards, I hit backwards and didn't bounce back onto the track."
Lando Norris backed Sainz and Ocon: "As drivers, we often know better than the experts where the risks lie. You should listen to us from time to time. We gave our recommendation after Carlos' accident, and the FIA did didn't respond. That's not okay." The world association argues that the wall cannot be moved due to the lack of space and that two layers of Tecpro at the point would narrow the route by at least one meter. And then it would be too tight there again.