GREATER NOIDA, India, Oct 29, 2011 (AFP) - Formula One drivers Saturday said they would steer clear of the kerbs at the new Indian Grand Prix track after Ferrari's Felipe Massa lost a front wheel in what looked like a harmless bump.
Racers were united in their praise of the purpose-built Buddh International Circuit but they remained wary of the roadsides after Massa's mishap in qualifying.
The Brazilian's right front wheel was knocked askew after he misread a chicane and bounced over the kerb, prompting him to plough nose-first into the barriers. He was unhurt in the crash.
"Felipe hit not the kerb, but the bit behind the kerb, too hard," said world champion Sebastian Vettel, who qualified in pole position for Sunday's race.
"I'll definitely take a look but I think the only thing we can do now is stay away from them."
Vettel's Red Bull team-mate Mark Webber, who will start second on the grid, said he would also treat the kerbs with caution.
"I haven't seen the incident yet but it looks like he's hit off the back of the contact. Yeah, try and stay away from them I suppose, but it's not always easy," he said.
But Webber also hailed the super-smooth track, which features one of the longest straights in Formula One and top speeds of about 320 kilometres (200 miles) per hour.
"It's probably the smoothest track in the world," said the Australian.
"It's very, very smooth and it's pretty quick and exciting.
"I think the debris off-line (off the racing line) will get worse during the race. In the quick chicanes you've got to have a lot of luck where people are making errors here and there, but generally it should be fine."
India's Narain Karthikeyan said fine dust, possibly cement from construction sites at the giant development site around the circuit, would be a hazard as he tries to keep HRT out of the way of faster cars on Sunday.
Karthikeyan has already picked up a penalty of five grid places for impeding Michael Schumacher during qualifying, meaning he will start dead last on Sunday.
"It's a big problem. It's a big mess, actually. It happened in qualifying as well," Karthikeyan said. "I had to get off-line to allow Schumacher to go through and it takes another half-a-lap to clear all the mud.
"I don't know what it is. It's a funny cement dust maybe, more than dirt, because there's so much construction. Off-line it's very fine dust, so it's been pretty hard.
"That's going to be the key for us: how do you manage traffic, and how you don't pick up the bad cement."