FIA doesn’t see need to intervene over bump-induced F1 crashes

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Joined: Nov 2016

Accidents suffered by Lando Norris in the Las Vegas Grand Prix and Carlos Sainz in Abu Dhabi GP practice were both triggered by the cars hitting bumps on the track.

The current generation of ground effect F1 cars are especially sensitive to bumps because they perform better when running very close to the ground, and are typically set-up with very stiff suspension.

But despite the Norris and Sainz incidents, and teams clearly pushing things to the limit in running as low as possible, the FIA thinks it is not so troublesome that it needs to get involved on safety grounds.

The FIA’s head of single-seater matters Nikolas Tombazis says that ideally it would be better if cars ran higher, but equally there were limits as to when the governing body should interfere with performance matters.

Asked about potential concerns over bumps causing crashes, Tombazis said: “Well, we do need to make sure circuits, generally speaking, avoid features which may cause that.

“It’s a thin line between if maybe there is the possibility for the circuit to sort out some features in detail, and where the teams may just need to raise the car a bit more.

“We obviously will try to fix these areas of the circuits.

Photo by: Zak Mauger / Motorsport Images

Carlos Sainz, Ferrari SF-23, crashes out in FP2

“Are the cars too low? Yes, we would rather they were running a bit higher.

“But the inherent characteristic of a ground effect car is that it tends to have more performance running low. So that’s something that I don’t think we can easily avoid.”

Standard skid blocks

The need for cars to run super close to the ground for performance reasons triggered other problems for teams this year beyond the potential for incidents.

The disqualifications of Lewis Hamilton and Charles Leclerc from the United States GP because their underfloor planks had worn away too much showed how critical ride heights can be.

It also put a spotlight on the fact that it is time consuming for the FIA to check all car planks after each session, so some cars may escape scrutiny.

There has been talk in the past of a standard plank and skid block arrangement to help speed up the checking process, but this is something that teams have previously resisted.

However, the issue will most likely be put back on the agenda for the next rules cycles from 2026.

Tombazis added: “Sometimes we want to do things but we still need to go through governance and the teams need to vote for it – and we don’t have enough support. So, for 2026, we believe we need to simplify very much that area.”


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