Carlos Sainz and Esteban Ocon have both revealed they were ignored by the FIA regarding the safety of the barriers when they crashed at Turn 14 in Miami on Friday and Saturday respectively.
The 5.4 kilometre Miami Autodrome, which winds around the Hard Rock Stadium and an artificial marina, features a tight, street circuit-type section towards the end of the middle sector, and the sweeping left hander of Turn 13 leads the drivers into a heavy braking zone as they get the cars turned in for the heavily kerbed and cambered Turns 14 and 15.
Both Lando Norris and Sergio Perez suggested that there is very little grip away from the racing line, and the scarcity of purchase the tyres are getting on the track surface caught Sainz and Ocon out during free practice as they both slammed into the wall on the approach to Turn 14.
The pair pleaded with the FIA to remove the concrete barrier they crashed into and replace it with a TECPRO one after they suffered aches and pains as a legacy of the impact.
TECPRO barriers are two layers of polyethylene barrier with a gap in between them to absorb the impact of a race car going into it, and the blocks used to build the wall are connected by double nylon straps.
Introduced in 2006, TECPRO barriers are able to absorb the impact of a driver suffering a 55G crash, and with withstand a force moving at around 220kph, according to a report by impactsafetybarriers.com.
Sainz suggested installing those in place of the concrete walls, but his appeals were waved away.
“I mean, I’m sorry to be critical but I told the FIA yesterday my crash in second gear shouldn’t feel that hard, but today my neck was a bit in pain,” he told Sky Sports.
“I told them ‘let’s put Tecpro there’ because it’s [a] very hard concrete wall. Esteban went to crash and I’m pretty sure he felt it too.
“It’s one of those things I will never understand. I did bring it up already, [but] no change.”
Ocon’s accident in FP3 left him unable to contest qualifying, meaning that he will start the grand prix in 20th and last.
The layout of the circuit means there is little room for pragmatism on getting the cars back to the pits in a quick manner – it took an age to remove Alice Powell’s car from the circuit after she crashed in the W Series race on Saturday – so it was all in all a frustrating day for the Frenchman.
However, he confirmed that he is in sufficient physical shape to contest the race.
“It hurts, definitely. It was 51G, a hard impact, but I will be fit to race tomorrow, that’s the main thing,” he explained.
“It’s a mistake I don’t usually do. It’s been a while since I’ve done one like that. But clearly what’s a bit disappointing is the chassis change, really.”
The 25-year-old indicated that the FIA need to take safety more seriously after he too saw his request for softer barriers denied.
“The impact has been so hard in comparison to what it should have been. We discussed it with Carlos yesterday with the race directors, to say we should probably put a TECPRO barrier there, and it hasn’t been listened [to],” he added.
“So that is not acceptable, and the FIA should push harder for our safety.”
While Ocon was forced to sit out qualifying, Sainz finally had a clean run over the three sessions, and got himself on the front row alongside team-mate and polesitter Charles Leclerc.