Bernie Ecclestone’s suggestion that walls be built on corners to force Formula One drivers to respect track limits may raise safety concerns but Australian Daniel Ricciardo agrees something needs to be done.
The Red Bull driver is a big fan of street circuits and told reporters at the Mexican Grand Prix that drivers needed to pay a heavier price for mistakes at other tracks with extensive run-off areas.
“It’s tough, because we always talk about safety,” he said. “But I think walls are actually pretty good.”
“It’s like (Mercedes’ triple world champion) Lewis (Hamilton) in Monaco when he was defending from me and cut through the chicane. If there was a wall there, happy days and I win the race.
“I’m not a fan of the real open stuff,” he continued. “At least have something there that is a deterrent.”
Formula One’s commercial supremo Ecclestone suggested in Austin, Texas, last week that the sport needed to bring back more of the risk element and said he had proposed 40cm high walls to concentrate the mind.
The issue of drivers exceeding track limits and going off without any serious consequences has long been a bone of contention.
Safety remains the prime concern, however, and particularly after the death of French driver Jules Bianchi last year.
Championship leader Nico Rosberg, who has won nine races this season for Mercedes, said there were plenty of more important issues to address “before we start looking at turning back time on safety”.
Mexican Sergio Perez, preparing for a home race with Force India, agreed.
“There are so many more areas where we can improve the sport before starting to put safety at risk,” he told reporters.
“I think we can definitely make the circuits a bit more challenging for the drivers, not necessarily with walls but making the driver pay for mistakes if you go off, having a gravel trap and losing time, that kind of thing.”
Ricciardo said there was regular discussion in meetings about what to do, with higher kerbs a solution in some areas.
“It’s improving but it’s more when a driver can just run off wide and come back on track and not really pay a penalty. At least have some penalty,” he added.
“It allows too many of us to be less than perfect and it makes us look less good as well if we are always making mistakes and not paying a penalty for it.”