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Qatar's 'chassis-slicing' kerbs changed ahead of WEC round

Some of the kerbs at the Losail International Circuit have been smoothened ahead of the World Endurance Championship's visit to Qatar this weekend.

Kerbs detail

Photo by: Shameem Fahath

Modifications have been made to the kerbs located outside the sweeping Turn 12, 13, and 14 sections following complaints from Formula 1 drivers during last year's Qatar Grand Prix.

The aim behind the changes is to minimise the risk of damage to the tyres as well as the cars, particularly when a driver runs wide over the kerbs and has to rejoin the track.

The decision was made in conjunction with not only Michelin, the exclusive supplier of the Hypercar class in the WEC, but also F1's tyre partner Pirelli. The FIM, the governing body of MotoGP, also agreed to the changes.

This suggests that the updated kerbs will remain in place when MotoGP heads to Qatar next weekend for the opening round of the season, as well as when F1 returns to the Gulf nation in December.

"It was agreed with the circuit to grind down the peak and sharp trailing edges of the 'Misano'-style kerbs at Turns 12, 13 and 14 to reduce the risk of sidewall damage when a car runs wide and rejoins from the direction of the run-off area," the FIA said in a statement issued to Autosport.

Several hypercar drivers have already urged caution about kerb usage after trying out the circuit for the first time during the Prologue pre-season test and free practice ahead of Saturday's Qatar 1812km round.

Toyota driver Sebastien Buemi warned about potential disqualifications from kerb overuse, with hypercars also subject to similar rules regarding plank wear as F1.

"If you do it for 10 hours, the plank is not going to be legal at the end of the race. I think the GTs can gain time, but we don't [by going over the kerbs]," Buemi told Autosport.

#8 Toyota Gazoo Racing Toyota GR010 - Hybrid: Sebastien Buemi, Brendon Hartley, Ryo Hirakawa

#8 Toyota Gazoo Racing Toyota GR010 - Hybrid: Sebastien Buemi, Brendon Hartley, Ryo Hirakawa

Photo by: JEP / Motorsport Images

"It doesn't make sense to cut the kerbs. We call them the slicers, because they slice the chassis. they can do big damage."

Going beyond the white line and taking too many kerbs could also lead to severe track limit penalties, with several drivers across both WEC classes already receiving sanctions in practice sessions.

Asked if he encountered any issues with the kerbs, BMW Hypercar driver Rene Rast told Autosport: "Slightly, yes.

"We saw a lot of track limits on Tuesday [in the Prologue]. We have to be very careful with the kerbs and not cutting tyres or cutting underfloors, damaging the car. You have to be very mindful about where you take the kerb and where not."

Asked if there was any risk of damaging the floor, Rast said: "It can be. If you hit it at a wrong angle or if you take it too much it can actually damage the floor or part of the chassis.

"They are all very aggressive. There is not one. Of course, the high-speed corners, Turns 12, 13, 14, 15, if you go wide there over the kerbs you get first a track limit but you also get probably damage on the car parts."

Peugeot's Jean-Eric Vergne added: "Of course if you try and run too low and you go a lot on the kerb you are going to get disqualified because the plank is going to be too used."

#20 BMW M Team WRT BMW M Hybrid V8: Sheldon Van Der Linde, Robin Frijns, Rene Rast

#20 BMW M Team WRT BMW M Hybrid V8: Sheldon Van Der Linde, Robin Frijns, Rene Rast

Photo by: Shameem Fahath

However, some other drivers found kerbs at Losail more manageable, with BMW's Sheldon van der Linde not expecting any problems during Saturday's race.

"I expected it to be a bit worse," the South African told Autosport. "The ride heights obviously need to be adapted accordingly to get closer to the limit of the car and to maximise the downforce.

"But we didn't have any damage so I don't believe it will be an issue."

Rast's BMW stablemate Marco Wittmann believes F1's new ground-effect cars are more susceptible to damage from kerbs due to the higher loads they put on tyres compared to hypercars.

"I haven't seen anyone having problems either with the tyre or tyre punctures or with the kerb rides," he explained to Autosport.

"Obviously, F1 drivers have higher speeds, they have more loads, so it can be and they also have a different tyre manufacturer so it could be a different topic for them, but for us so far it was not really a big issue, to be honest."

Kerbs detail

Kerbs detail

Photo by: Shameem Fahath

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