The discovery of the Losail route was sometimes brutal for the teams on Friday during the first free practice of the Grand Prix of Qatar. The fault with ruthless vibrators with the single-seaters, which suffered because of the high speeds of passage. Several teams accumulated the damage, the most affected being Haas F1, which even had to change Nikita Mazepin’s chassis at the end of the first session and thus deprive the Russian of the second.
« I think some of them damaged their flat bottom, and we damaged the chassis and then we changed it, which took all day since we basically change the whole car. », confirms Günther Steiner, Managing Director of Haas. « He [Mazepin] just went over the vibrators, he wasn’t off line or anything; he was respecting the rules, he just went on the vibrators and it rubbed. And he said he was feeling it on his back. We chatted with Michael [Masi, directeur de course], he said they were standard FIA vibrators. «
On a circuit that had never hosted the premier class, the FIA installed vibrators meeting the specifications usually used on other tracks on the calendar. However, several factors exacerbate their harshness towards the single-seaters, starting with the very fast nature of the layout.
« The vibrators are pretty harsh here », says Andreas Seidl, director of McLaren. « We saw several cars in the paddock today [vendredi], including ours, with damage to the bodywork after driving on these vibrators. So we really need to keep an eye on that for the rest of the weekend. It’s a fast track and I think when you touch the vibrators, it’s violent. In addition, it is a circuit that also allows you to take certain risks to widen because it does not stop you completely. The pilots are also probably taking a little more risk, which causes additional danger to the parts. «
Daniel Ricciardo during FP2 Friday in Losail.
Günther Steiner thinks that Friday will have served as lessons for the pilots to measure their aggressiveness with the vibrators. « I believe all pilots will now be careful », he says.
Besides Haas and McLaren, Aston Martin has also been seen to suffer several property damage while passing over the Losail vibrators, with both Sebastian Vettel and Lance Stroll.
« Both drivers and engineers love the circuit », says Otmar Szafnauer, director of the British team. “Apart from some aggressive buzzers that seem to damage cars when touched at excessive speeds. We suffered damage in FP1, which we did not expect. We have to be really careful to be able to handle our spare parts properly. Front wing, flat bottom, carbon parts: I don’t think we’re the only ones, we’ve seen others hit the curbs hard, which we don’t like, but the circuit itself is good. «