Barcelona's Turn 9 safety improved
A number of safety improvements have been made to the Circuit de Catalunya at Turn 9, where Heikki Kovalainen suffered his huge crash in last year's Spanish Grand Prix.
Kovalainen's car speared off the track head first into the barriers after a front wheel failure. His McLaren plunged straight into the barriers and, although the chassis broke in two, he suffered no serious injuries. In light of what happened, the FIA has sanctioned improvements to the track at the corner which should minimize the chances of such a severe accident if a car suffers a similar problem.
The rear of the gravel trap at the turn has been raised by 5 feet to give a gradual upward incline to slow cars that run off the track, while the gravel trap itself has been renewed. Also, an additional "conveyor belt" has been fitted to tire barriers straight on at the corner, to minimize the chances of a car penetrating the barriers again. Furthermore, the curb and artificial grass behind the track at Turn 9 have been extended by 33 feet.
Other changes at the track include the large section of gravel at Turn 3 being replaced by asphalt, as well as further improvements to drainage and other tyre barriers at Turns 1 and 10.
Kovalainen has said he has no qualms about returning to Barcelona 12 months on from the crash.
"Going back to the scene of last year's accident doesn't change anything for me: I really enjoy this track," he said ahead of the event. "I had a great race to fifth here in 2007 and I love the high-speed corners, where you've got to push hard to get the maximum from the car."