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Formula 1 Emilia Romagna GP

Imola brings back gravel traps to help drive away F1’s track limits problem

Formula 1’s push to shake off problems with track limits has prompted the expansion of gravel traps at Imola.

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As F1 drivers begin their circuit walks ahead of this weekend’s Emilia Romagna Grand Prix, the most notable changes they will notice are in various run-off areas around the Italian venue.

Key areas of the circuit have been reconfigured, with previous asphalt run off areas being reduced and replaced with gravel traps.

They are on the exit of Piratella, where the gravel trap now runs much closer to the edge of the circuit on the right-hand side.

Then the asphalt run off on the outside of Acque Minerali has also been dramatically reduced and replaced with gravel, which will leave no room for error as the cars swoop through that turn.

There is also now a gravel trap on the exit of Variante Alta which means any mistake drivers make in this area, like Charles Leclerc’s spin in the 2022 grand prix, would likely mean a permanent exit.

The revamped run-off areas were already in place before last month's World Endurance Championship round at Imola.

The change in approach regarding gravel traps comes amid some pushback about the growth of asphalt run offs in recent years.

While asphalt gave drivers room for error and meant mistakes were not terminally punished, they also opened the door to problems with track limits abuse amid F1’s latest stance.

This reached a peak at last year’s Austrian Grand Prix where the lack of gravel traps were regarded as a contributing factor in drivers running wide repeatedly – and there being 1200 offences counted over the course of the race.

The Red Bull Ring circuit is expected to make changes for this year, with it also understood that Monza will make modifications at some corners for this year’s Italian GP.

As part of the revamp of the Spa-Francorchamps circuit a few years ago, more gravel traps were added – something drivers especially liked.

Carlos Sainz said at the time: “Welcome back gravel and pray for more gravel in the future, and grass and everything

“Because it's exactly what I think we all need to make the circuits nice and spectacular again.”

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Imola has also made changes to kerbs – reinstalling double layers at various corners around the track.

They have been put on the left-hand side of Turns 2, 4, 5, 9 and 19 and on the right-hand side of Turns 3, 6, 11 and 12. They have also been added to the exit of Turn 15 (Variante Alta).

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