It’s time for “electronic gravel traps” to save F1 from itself

Enlarge / Track-edging red, white, and green painted curbs at the exit of the Variante Della Roggia chicane next to the gravel trap during practice for the 2012 Italian Grand Prix on the Monza Circuit, Italy.

On Sunday, under floodlights in Abu Dhabi, the 2021 Formula 1 season came to an end. The most electrifying championship fight in many years came down to a last-lap pass after a dominant Lewis Hamilton got caught out on old tires after a very late caution let rival Max Verstappen pit for much fresher rubber.

Partially due to Netflix’s Drive to Survive show, the sport has reached levels of popularity not seen since the 1980s, even here in America, so many people have opinions about the role that F1’s race control officials have had in influencing the title fight.

However, I’m not here today to dissect the confusion of the last five laps. Instead, I have a bee in my bonnet about an incident that could have decided the championship that happened just a third of the way around lap 1.

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