Formula 1 race director Michael Masi says changes to track layouts are only demanded by the FIA on grounds of safety, following criticism of Russia’s Turn 2 design.
A big run-off area follows a major braking zone in Sochi, and numerous drivers across all categories cut Turn 2 during last weekend’s Russian Grand Prix. The FIA installed bollards in the run-off that needed negotiating by any driver completely missing the corner, but Kevin Magnussen was heavily critical of a time penalty he received for not following those instructions properly. That followed a heavy crash at the start of the Formula 2 race that was triggered by Nikita Mazepin not rejoining in the agreed manner, and Masi says it isn’t the FIA’s place to force through changes from a solely sporting perspective.
“From a safety end, that side of it is zero compromise,” Masi said when asked by RACER if too much is expected in terms of the FIA influence on track layout. “All of the circuits are very good with that end.
“We need to go through from the other side of trying to balance everything up from a circuit’s end, make a significant investment overall, what is the other activity they have at the circuit, what other impacts are there, etc. It’s not just the one little microcosm. It’s the whole picture.
“A solution that works in F1 and single-seaters; put GT cars on it and it means absolutely zero to them. That’s the sort of balance. And then adding the motorcycle element, and there’s another factor you need to consider. It’s not just a ‘we want this and this is going to happen’. It’s, how does it impact everything, and taking into account all of those inputs.”
While Masi admits there is some frustration about the way certain drivers treat run-off areas, he said that little can be done to Turn 2 at Sochi without a desire from the circuit for a bigger change.
“Frustrating? Yes at times, but it’s one of those things, the nature of what we’ve got at the moment,” he said.
“We just need to continually try and evolve, step by step, to see what we can do. If we look back at it, Turn 2 has had a different iteration each year. It gives you an idea of the complexity of trying to get that corner sequence right from the run-off end.
“At the moment, the turn is what it is. If, together with the circuit, if something is worth looking at for everyone’s benefit, then you never say no. But at the end of the day, Sochi Autodrom has made a significant investment in building a facility not too many years ago. If it is something the circuit would like to change with input from the FIA and the F1 group, I’m happy to look at it. We never dismiss anything like that, seeing what improvements we can make anywhere. It’s no different to any circuit.”