“Gravel Trapped”

It is reasonable to believe that, somehow, neither the weekend nor the season were not supposed to start quite like this.

Blending from a long back straight into a tight-ish right hand bend, the sequence normally begins with a little too much speed being carried into a corner, followed by a brief burst of smoke as the front tyres lock up and scream beyond the point of reasonable adhesion.

There is little that even the absolute best drivers can do from here, other than go off the road – although might argue the best drivers would be less inclined to make such errors. Admittedly they do happen occasionally, but not often.

In some instances, one can hope that a clear escape road or tarmac run-off area lies ahead – with the latter, at least an opportunity exists to let the brakes breathe a little, allowing the tyre to release slightly, so the car can simply peel off over the white boundary lines and not incur damage.

In this, one might lose a fast lap, but hopefully little else – on this occasion, Porsche Carrera Cup Germany driver Clemens Schmid was not so fortunate.

The Hockenheimring is not some modern white elephant, lost in the vastness of Asia, nor is it the plaything of a Prince or King in the Middle East. As such, there are reasonably fewer tarmac areas and still a number of, what some might now consider, “old school” gravel traps and as Schmid discovered the Hockenheimring does not forgive in the way newer circuits do,

From the initial lock-up, the Lechner Racing Academy driver ran rough through the gravel, causing pain for his car and engineers. One only needs to see to annoyed and slightly crestfallen faces of his engineering crew, when a driver pulls into the pits, gravel spitting from the radiator.
If nothing else for the crews, it means a lengthy session pulling the underside of the car apart, clearing a turgid mixture of dirt, dust, muck and stones from the slightly wounded machine.

After all this on Sunday evening, your engineers may be looking for a drink… and the first round is going to be on you.

© Leigh O’Gorman.
© Leigh O’Gorman.

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