Friday’s Free Practice sessions at the Paul Ricard circuit were dominated by concerns from drivers and team bosses alike regarding kerbs that were causing problems for the cars.
The yellow kerbs in question are positioned on the outside of Turn 2, and multiple drivers found themselves bouncing over them during their practice runs, including Pierre Gasly, Valtteri Bottas and Max Verstappen.
In Free Practice 1, Mercedes’ Bottas lost part of his front wing after going wide at the corner and claimed after the final session of the day that he believed the floor of his W12 to have been damaged too.
Speaking to Sky F1 after FP2, he described the kerbs as “quite harsh”. These sentiments were echoed by Mercedes-AMG F1 Team Principal Toto Wolff, who thought they are “too radical”.
Championship leader, Verstappen also experienced a bumpy ride over the kerbs during Free Practice 2 and lost a chunk of his front wing which the Red Bull Racing team were quick to request back over the radio.
— Formula 1 (@F1) June 18, 2021
We heard several complaints being made throughout the day to Race Director, Michael Masi, asking him to review the height of the kerbs which were causing “hundreds of pounds worth of damage” to the cars.
Each time however, teams were informed that the kerbs had been there in 2019 when Formula 1 last visited Paul Ricard for the French Grand Prix, and therefore they should have been expected to be there again.
The general consensus amongst the paddock is that the kerbs are too high and as a result cause too much oscillation when the cars go over them which leads to the damage some of the drivers have seen.
When it comes to qualifying on Saturday, this could be particularly dangerous as the drivers will be pushing the cars to the limit to set a quick lap. In the race, if cars going over the kerbs leads to debris being littered across the track, safety then becomes an issue too.
Masi did say on one of his radio calls that he would review the situation tonight, however the line so far has been that if drivers could deal with the kerbs in 2019, then they should be able to deal with them now.
With increasing frustration at drivers disrespecting track limits, it seems unlikely that the Race Director will want to make it easier for cars to go wide by removing the very part that is most likely to put them off doing so.