A number of MotoGP riders have hit out at safety aspects of the Red Bull Ring after two huge crashes during today’s Austrian Grand Prix, reiterating concerns raised both earlier this weekend and in previous years.
The MotoGP race was red-flagged when Johann Zarco and Franco Morbidelli had a violent collision on the fast straight leading to Turn 3, with their tumbling bikes crossing the circuit on the exit of the corner and narrowly missing Valentino Rossi and Maverick Vinales.
That came after a terrifying crash in the Moto2 race, when Hafizh Syahrin hit the fallen bike of Enea Bastianini and was launched into the air – sustaining a pelvic contusion.
Doubts were first cast on the safety of Red Bull’s circuit before MotoGP even officially visited it for the first time, with Casey Stoner doubting whether its car-centric safety features were fit for MotoGP during testing in 2016.
Questioning the extensive use of asphalt runoff areas in the wake of Luis Salom’s fatal accident at Barcelona earlier that year, he also first raised the issue that has left many riders speaking out today: the track’s layout.
“You can’t get a much more picturesque circuit than this,” Stoner said at the time, “and it’s something very special.
“The circuit has some nice parts but it’s a bit strange for bikes because some of the corners don’t flow well together, which makes it somewhat difficult.”
Rossi, who was almost struck by Zarco’s airborne Avintia Ducati during today’s MotoGP race, seconded his old nemesis’ opinion today by highlighting Turn 3 in particular – the scene of today’s massive collision – as a choke point.
“I think that the Red Bull Ring is dangerous in some places,” he said when asked about track safety by The Race, “especially where you have hard braking from 300km/h to 50km/h.
“In the hairpin, you have to come in completely the opposite direction, and it is potentially a very dangerous place.”
Cal Crutchlow was even more vociferous in his condemnation of the track, backing up his comments from earlier in the weekend about just how dangerous he feels the close walls and lack of runoff are in the wet.
Doubling down today, he once again called for the circuit to seriously consider a change to the layout of Turn 3 – something he believes Red Bull has the ability to do given its resources and the amount of free space around the bend.
“Imagine that happened in the rain,” said Crutchlow.
“I don’t like the safety of this place. They run a good grand prix, but I don’t like it here.
“I don’t know what they can do about it, but there’ll be a lot of unhappy riders this afternoon.
“But what can they do unless they completely change that part of the circuit? Of course, like I said the other day it’s not like they’re struggling to do that – they could if they wanted to, but I don’t think it will.”
He also raged at MotoGP’s TV direction for repeatedly replaying today’s crash during the red flag delay and before riders returned to track for the second part of the race.
“I don’t know why they play it 50 times over,” said Crutchlow.
“It’s ridiculous for the riders sitting in the garages, it’s ridiculous for the people at home.
“Everyone wants to know what happened, we need to understand that, but…”
The Red Bull Ring hosts MotoGP again next weekend as part of MotoGP’s restructured 2020 calendar.