Why do tracks like Monza, Le Mans and Daytona Road Course feature run off areas that have several foam barriers that drivers need to drive around?

I understand that these were placed so that drivers need to drive around them when they misjudge their braking points instead of just cutting through the whole corner itself, but doesn't this pose a bit of a safety hazard in case a car suffers a brake failure?

Monza has them at turn 1, Le Mans has them at the entry to the two chicanes, Daytona has them at the bus stop, even the GP Course of Nurburgring has it before the actual chicane. All these spots in these circuits are at heavy braking zones at the end of long straights, so aren't the drivers put at more of a risk if a high speed collision with these barriers occurs at these locations as compared to just putting down gravel to slow the cars down?

  • Risk of accident from brake failure compared to risk of accident from running through at high speed, likelihood of a single vehicle into wall versus vehicle into vehicle, ...
    – Nij
    Sep 6, 2018 at 19:12

1 Answer 1


As you mentioned these foam barriers were put in to stop cars gaining an advantage by cutting the corner, either inadvertently or on purpose. Driving around them slows the car down to the extent it is slower every time.

These have replaced the traditional gravel traps as it was felt they spoiled the racing as it meant anyone who went into them effectively ended their race. The idea being more cars racing means better racing for the fans to watch.

But they are purely foam, so if you hit one at racing speed, they don't do anything more than cause minor damage, they might break a wing but they won't harm a driver. They probably only weigh a few kilos, I believe they're polystyrene/styrofoam.

If you watch a reply of the Bottas/Verstappen incident at Monza last week, Bottas took the escape road and clipped one of the blocks with his rear wheel, it didn't cause any damage and the block moved a few inches. I can't find a link to a video unfortunately as the FIA/Liberty don't allow clips on YouTube.

There is this video but it only works in some countries, I can't view it - https://www.al.com/sports/index.ssf/2014/05/what_happens_when_a_race_car_h.html

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