Short cuts

Bernie Ecclestone raised a hell of a kerfuffle the other week when he jokingly mooted the possibility of F1 drivers being allowed to take short cuts during races. As I was bumping in to London on the train this morning I suddenly remembered: it’s been done.

At the 1959 US GP, Harry Schell managed to persuade the organisers that he had beaten his previous best qualifying time by six seconds, and he was permitted to start his Cooper from the front row. It subsequently emerged that he had noticed a few unmanned marshals’ posts around the back of the circuit and taken a crafty short cut. Although he claimed the whole thing had been a prank, he was quite happy to accept the elevated starting position.

You couldn’t do this on a modern F1 circuit, though; Sebring was based around the landing strip of a wartime airfield, with a proliferation of convenient taxiways off the main route…

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  • Comments (3)
    • Steven Roy
    • January 28th, 2010

    That sort of thing has been done a lot more recently than that. I remember at least once in the early 80s someone (Piquet?) worked out that he could brake ‘too late’ for a corner and shoot down an escape road. The return fed into the exit of the last corner so instead of going round a slow corner on to the start straight he shot down the return road and arrived at the corner exit something like 50mph faster than was possible via the normal route. I have a feeling others copied this approach.

    I can’t remember where the track was but I think it was one of the American street circuits.

    • antoine
    • January 28th, 2010

    I’m surprised you didn’t do a ‘Pearl in the Schell’ pun…

    • Stuart C
    • February 1st, 2010


    A cheap Howard Jones reference? Surely not!

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