June 18 (Reuters) – Fierce Formula 1 rivals Red Bull and Mercedes found common cause on Friday when they complained about costly damage caused by the curbs at the second corner of the French Grand Prix circuit.
Mercedes’ Valtteri Bottas and Red Bull championship leader Max Verstappen both added to repair bills with off-track excursions during practice sessions at Le Castellet.
“We just did a lot of damage to our car and we’re pretty sure Max didn’t end up there on purpose,” Red Bull team principal Jonathan Wheatley told race director Michael Masi over the radio.
“It seems like such a huge penalty for minor indiscretion on the part of the drivers. I was wondering if you would consider, I don’t know, removing half of them,” he added.
“It looks like the penalty for going over the limit… is about 100,000 pounds ($ 138,250).”
Mercedes sporting director Ron Meadows has also suffered “tens of thousands or hundreds of thousands of pounds of damage” to the floor and front fender of the car by going one meter too wide.
Haas team boss Guenther Steiner, operating on one of the smaller budgets in the paddock, said his drivers have been warned to stay away.
“We shouldn’t let sidewalk damage destroy a car, in my opinion,” he told reporters.
“If you know it damages a car, why do we have them there? … to know that there is something on the track that damages the car, we should be smarter than that.”
When asked what the difference was between that and the walls of Monaco or Baku, whose drivers have to stay away or pay a heavy price, Steiner said there were other ways to enforce the limits of the runway.
“Should we put barriers around the racetracks and then we definitely wouldn’t go in because we are completely destroying the car?” ” He asked.
“There are other places where you go out of bounds and waste time but you don’t destroy your car. That’s what it should be.”
Masi stressed that the curbs were not new, although the cars were different from the last time the circuit was used in 2019, but said he would reconsider the matter.
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Reporting by Alan Baldwin in London, editing by Pritha Sarkar
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