New track debris fencing gets FIA approval

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The FIA has approved a new trackside debris fence system, developed by Swiss company Geobrugg, for use at Grade 1 circuits that host Formula 1 and other top-level championships. The debris fence is said to provide increased safety, while offering better views of the action for spectators and greater sustainability for racetracks.

The fence system manufacturer notes that all debris fences require steel posts to keep them fixed in place and currently there is a maximum of 4m between each post to ensure the catch fencing is strong enough. But achieving the required strength with fewer posts reduces the probability of a car making contact with one, which in turn enables the debris containment system to operate more effectively.

To this end the new debris fences use 6m spacing between the steel posts, rather than the current four, while offering the same safety performance, maintaining the safety requirements of FIA Standard 3502-2018 for debris fences at Grade 1 circuits.

It utilizes a similar design to the 4m steel post spacing, but with an increased cable diameter of 16mm in combination with high tensile helix spirals to connect the cable to the mesh. The fencing has been put through a series of tests, including a 780kg sphere fired at it from a cannon at 60km/h and a full-size car impacting at 150kph.

Jochen Braunwarth, Geobrugg’s director of motorsport solutions, said, “We aimed for no less than a revolution in debris fences. A massive impact on sustainability while trying to improve safety and installation friendliness of the system was our goal. I believe we have achieved this and more. Circuits looking for a more sustainable solution and improved spectator experience shouldn’t look any further.”

After successfully passing the tests, Geobrugg found that the 6m post solution further increases the safety for open cockpit series and bike riders, by decreasing the likelihood of impact with a debris fence post.

The system also has useful sustainability benefits. Geobrugg is expecting to be able to put up to 600m of debris fence in one 40ft container, rather than 400m, which will reduce shipping weight and transportation emissions. Furthermore, the reduction of posts leads to fewer concrete foundations and faster installation rates, with a 25% reduction across all areas.

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Lawrence has been covering engineering subjects – with a focus on motorsport technology – since 2007 and has edited and contributed to a variety of international titles. Currently, he is responsible for content across UKI Media & Events' portfolio of websites while also writing for the company's print titles.

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