Motor racing-F1 teams unhappy at costly car-damaging Le Castellet kerbs


Formula One F1 - French Grand Prix - Circuit Paul Ricard, Le Castellet, France - June 18, 2021 Mercedes' Valtteri Bottas during practice REUTERS/Yves Herman

(Reuters) - Fierce Formula One rivals Red Bull and Mercedes found common cause on Friday in complaining about costly damage caused by the kerbs at turn two of the French Grand Prix circuit.

Mercedes' Valtteri Bottas and Red Bull's championship leader Max Verstappen both added to the repair bills with off track excursions in practice sessions at Le Castellet.

"We've just done a shed-load of damage to our car and pretty sure Max didn't end up there on purpose," said Red Bull team manager Jonathan Wheatley over the radio to race director Michael Masi.

"It just seems to be such a huge penalty for a minor indiscretion on the drivers' part. I was wondering whether you would consider, I don't know, removing half of them," he added.

"It just seems the penalty for going wide... is about 100,000 pounds ($138,250)."

Mercedes sporting director Ron Meadows was similarly aggrieved at "tens of thousands or hundreds of thousands of pounds worth of damage" to the car's floor and front wing by going a metre too wide.

Haas team boss Guenther Steiner, operating on one of the smallest budgets in the paddock, said his drivers had been warned to stay clear.

"We shouldn't have kerb damage destroy a car, in my opinion," he told reporters.

"If you know it damages a car, why do we have them there?...to know that something is on the racetrack which damages the car, we should be smarter than that."

Asked what the difference was between that and the walls in Monaco or Baku, which drivers have to stay clear of or pay a heavy price, Steiner said there were alternative ways of enforcing track limits.

"Should we put barriers around the race tracks and then for sure we wouldn’t go in them, because we destroy the car completely?" he asked.

"There are other places where you go off the track limits and you lose time but you don’t destroy your car. That’s what it should be."

Masi pointed out that the kerbs were not new, although the cars are different to last time the circuit was used in 2019, but said he would review the matter.

($1 = 0.7233 pounds)

(Reporting by Alan Baldwin in London, editing by Pritha Sarkar)

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