F1 drivers call for changes to turn 6 run-off at Albert Park after Russell and Hauger incidents

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In the wake of George Russell’s crash at the Albert Park circuit during the Australian Grand Prix, several Formula 1 drivers have raised concerns over the track’s safety, specifically around the Turn 6/7 section.

This particular section of the track, where Russell experienced his crash, has been pinpointed as especially problematic due to the angle of the barrier on the left-hand side that directs cars back onto the track. This concern isn’t isolated to this year’s incident but follows a pattern observed in previous races, including Alex Albon’s crash last year and Dennis Hauger’s in the Formula 2 feature race on Sunday morning.

Among the vocal critics was Haas driver Nico Hülkenberg, who highlighted the inherent danger posed by the corner’s current configuration.

“We’ve seen that corner last year, also with Alex, who crashed there. That barrier puts a car back on the circuit,” Hülkenberg remarked. His concern underlines shared anxiety among drivers over the potential for stationary vehicles to pose hazards on blind, high-speed sections of the track. “We need to look at that and change something there for the future because that’s really not good when you come around that corner and you have a car in the middle of the track,” he added.

Carlos Sainz also voiced his apprehension, highlighting the need for a re-evaluation of the barriers’ configuration in light of the recent accidents.

“That corner needs to be reviewed… It’s not the first time that after a collision the car comes back into the track. It’s a corner where we’re doing 250km/h [155mph] and it’s blind, and I just don’t like the last few incidents that we’ve seen in this corner, also in other categories,” Sainz articulated, stressing the urgency of addressing these safety concerns.

The reprofiled Turn 6, widened by more than seven metres as part of the Albert Park circuit’s major upgrade, now sees drivers taking the corner at significantly higher speeds, making it a thrilling yet potentially dangerous part of the track. Albon, who also suffered an incident at Turn 6 this year, pointed out the issues with the exit kerb and the wall’s angle, suggesting that adjustments could mitigate the risks.

“There’s kind of a double-stepped kerb on the exit and especially as we have these low cars now, we can use the first bit of kerb but if you go too far across and you hit the second kind-of ramp section, it forces the car into the air,” Albon explained, advocating for modifications to enhance safety.

Sauber’s Zhou Guanyu echoed Albon’s sentiments, emphasising the challenges posed by the current generation of ground effect F1 cars which are more likely to bottom out and leave drivers with little room for error.

“The moment you go a little bit over that kerb, [with the current cars], they bottom out and then basically there’s no room for you to take a wider line… Take that kerb… you take it perfectly or you’re in the barrier,” Zhou remarked, underscoring the fine line drivers must walk between speed and safety.

Amidst these concerns, Russell defended the corner’s configuration, suggesting that the problem lies not with the corner itself but with the barrier’s orientation.

“The corner is amazing, probably one of the best corners on that circuit so I wouldn’t want to see that change… But if you hit that wall, you just bounce back into the track,” Russell stated, advocating for a repositioning of the barrier rather than a major overhaul of the corner.

Daniel Ricciardo, too, expressed his admiration for the corner’s design but agreed that safety improvements are necessary.

“If they can make it safer but keep the speed, then that’s my vote,” Ricciardo said, highlighting the need to balance racing with the imperative of driver safety.

The drivers’ concerns were reportedly discussed during the Australian GP’s briefing, indicating a collective push towards enhancing safety measures at the Albert Park Circuit. With the FIA’s approval required for any changes, the conversation around Turn 6 at the Albert Park Circuit reflects the ongoing dialogue between drivers, teams, and governing bodies in pursuit of safer Formula 1 racing.