Drivers have begun complaining of safety changes made to Circuit de la Sarthe ahead of this month’s running of the 2017 24 Hours of Le Mans.
FIA officials decided to add a larger run off area at the final right hander of the iconic Porsche Curves, just before the track shoots into Corvette Corner. Corvette Racing driver Jan Magnussen, who missed the 2015 24 Hours of Le Mans after crashing out at the Porsche curves in qualifying, was among those drivers critical of the changes.
“I’m not necessary a fan of moving the walls and the barriers further away,” Magnussen told Motorsport.com, “If you move them miles away, this track becomes like any Formula 1 circuit and anyone can be fast.”
Magnussen has a good point. Many Formula 1 circuits, particularly the newer tracks, have large run-off areas. This means that the penalty for pushing hard and going wide or off track is minimal, whereas with a circuit with walls it could mean the end of your race or weekend. It therefore reduces the amount of skill and bravery needed to be fast – an especially important factor on an old school circuit like Le Sarthe.
“The Porsche Curves have always been one of the most iconic places at Le Mans and this is going to make it a little bit less thrilling,” said three-time Le Mans winner Andre Lotterer. I think we have to be careful what we do this track.”