Fernando Alonso believes that "extreme" aerodynamic development in Formula 1 this year may have played a part in the spate of crashes in Monaco this weekend.
With F1 figures breathing a sigh of relief that Sergio Perez escaped serious injury in his frightening qualifying crash – after several incidents at that location in qualifying – there have been widespread calls for changes to be made to the Monaco chicane in time for next year.
Although the design of the track at that point – with the end of the tire barrier separating an escape road and the circuit itself – has come under scrutiny, Alonso thinks that F1 also has to look at the way cars are behaving this year. When asked for his explanation as to why four drivers have crashed at the same point, Alonso said: "I don't know really. I don't know the exact answer, but for sure there is a bump there in the braking zone which is not helping.
"It is the nature of the circuit that maybe you lose the aerodynamics there, because of the way it goes around the circuit. It is a combination of many things – the poor grip that we have with the new rules and this year, the aerodynamics of the car that are for sure going for an extreme way of developing the car with the blown diffuser and exhausts. That is the way it is, unfortunately.
"For tomorrow there is not much we can do. But for next year we can see if there is a need to re-asphalt that area. For tomorrow, we need to brake earlier."
One of the main contributing factors in all the crashes – suffered by Vitantonio Liuzzi, Vitaly Petrov, Nico Rosberg and Perez – is that the braking area is very bumpy, which is causing drivers to lock up their rears and lose control at that point of the track. Petrov said the situation at the exit of the tunnel was unsafe, and something needed to be done to the track surface.
"It's dangerous," he said. "I nearly crashed there and Nico [Rosberg] was very lucky this morning. It is since they resurfaced the track after the tunnel.
"The bump is five times worse than last year and it was really difficult to brake there all weekend. I have a real problem with my back now. I think they should change it, because it's dangerous."
Rubens Barrichello added: "With the bump like it is right now the car jumps, goes to the side, loses its brakes and you have no run-off. This morning I bet you that not just Rosberg but everyone else had their hearts in the mouth, because he was so lucky. If he had gone straight forward [into the barrier] it would have been a massive shunt. Also, you cannot just complain – you either do something about it and take the whole corner away, or you just live with it."
Despite Alonso's feelings about the 2011 car designs contributing to the crashes, Mercedes GP team principal Ross Brawn was adamant that blown diffuser development was not to blame.
"I wouldn't say there was any evidence for the blown diffuser," he said. "I think it is just a very tricky part of the track. You have quite a high lateral load on, you are braking and it is bumpy.
"In Nico's case, we were planning a high fuel run because there were a couple of things we wanted to try and resolve for tomorrow, so he had high fuel and as it was a long run. Tire pressures were low and it just caught him out. It had no relevance of the blown diffuser.
"It is bumpy there and there is a high lateral load. And if you are on the limit of grip then that is the consequence. Normally we are reasonably comfortable there, but in that incident with Nico, the tires were low, he had a lot of fuel on board, the car was bottoming and it made it pretty tricky, so it is just a very difficult part of the track."