Christian Horner, Red Bull, Interlagos, 2016

Make run-off rules simpler, Horner urges

2016 Mexican Grand Prix

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Red Bull team principal Christian Horner has urged Formula One to simplify the rules which govern drivers leaving the track following the disputes over the last race in Mexico.

Red Bull driver Max Verstappen was given a five-second time penalty after the race for cutting the first corner while battling with Sebastian Vettel.

Charlie Whiting, Interlagos, 2016
Whiting explains why Verstappen was penalised
Horner argued F1 has become “over-regulated” and said “the drivers need to take a rule book with them on a Sunday now in the car and consult it before they either defend or make an overtaking manoeuvre these days.”

He pointed to the difference in how two incidents at the first corner were handled during the race. “There’s too much subjectivity and interpretation of different events,” said Horner.

Lewis Hamilton going straight on at the first turn last weekend, comes out half a kilometre up the road. Is that an advantage or a disadvantage compared to Max going off and coming back in the same position he went off with, with dirty tyres, later in the race?”

“So it’s very difficult for the the teams, the drivers and one can only think for the viewers as to what’s permitted and what isn’t. And I think like all things in lift, keep it simple, keep it straightforward.”

Horner urged F1 to find a solution to drivers going off the circuit which penalises them directly, rather than forcing the stewards to intervene.

“I’d say less rules, more clarity in terms of what the rules of engagement are. Nobody wants to see dangerous driving but let the drivers race. Let them go wheel-to-wheel. Everybody’s talking about the last five or six laps in Mexico because, let’s face it, the rest of the race was pretty boring.”

“The last ten laps were fantastic. And of course there’s been a whole bunch of discussion about it since then. And that’s what Formula One needs to be.”

“Let’s avoid the situation where drivers can cut corners and gain an advantage. Put a gravel trap there. Put something to slow the cars down. And then it takes the subjectivity away from stewards having to interpret is that result different to this one? Is that incident different from that? We can see so many examples of that.”

“I think for the teams, for the drivers and most importantly for the fans, let’s come up with something straightforward and simple that’s easy to understand and interpret.”

2016 Mexican Grand Prix

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Keith Collantine
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  • 20 comments on “Make run-off rules simpler, Horner urges”

    1. The rules are quite simple: If you go off and gain an advantage, you are penalized.

      The problem isn’t the rules. It is Charlie Whiting’s refusal to *enforce* the rules all of the time, but rather only when he personally feels like it.

      1. I disagree. The rules are written in a way that’s open to interpretation. Whether advantage was gained or not is always up to a person’s decision. If you want simple rules, you have to remove the factor of decision. From example, a fixed penalty would do the job.

      2. as @johnbeak mentions, the issue is the “gain an advantage” part and its interpretation. Instead there should just be a clear penalty if one does it to make sure that you lose time by missing your braking point, locking up, or just going off because it is the faster route, without having to spend the effort to check on advantages or not having been gained.

        1. We have a clear goal of preventing drivers from getting an advantage by leaving the track. Making it so that whenever you leave the track, regardless of being intentional or not, you always get a default minimum penalty, would solve that problem. What else will discourage drivers from trying? Simple as it gets.
          The “gained an advantage” part might be investigated by the stewards with possibility of increasing the penalty to reflect the intention.

          We could also make detection of leaving the track automated like in video games. All the cars have standardised ECUs already.
          Let’s add camera systems on track and cars to monitor that like in tennis or ice hockey that can be referred to when there’s a dispute.
          I’d still keep a human factor in, however, as computers may be inaccurate (also because the data is input by humans) or malfunction. We can always fall back to the definition is that you leave the track if you leave it with all 4 wheels.

          1. With the exception of going off track in order to avoid a collision, including being forced off track by another driver.
            In other words, every off should be investigated the way things like pit lane speeding is. With the above exception, there should always be a penalty.

      3. I thought penalties where decided by the stewards at each race, and that Charlie is not one of the stewards. I could be wrong though.

        I further remember that the guy who implored Mercedes to protest VES’ move in Suzuka was part of the steward group in Mexico.

        1. @coldfly

          You are correct mate. Charlie is race director and not a steward, so the stewards make the decisions Charlie has influence and implements those decisions, but he doesn’t really give out the actual penalties, more so controls the race.

          Also as Charlie starts the race Herbie Blash is actually in control to give a safety car in the first 3 laps as Charlie will watch those laps from the starting tower and proceed back to race control and Herb is in charge for that time.

          Herbie Blash does so much of the background work its not funny, he will actually be very hard to replace !

          1. Also Charlie has a big say in if a corner will be a run off area with grass, tarmac or gravel.

            His current stance is to have grass or tarmac and if a driver exceeds these limits then they will get a penalty for that. Personally I disagree with this as it makes it open for interpretation, bring on the gravel trap and I think it will make things better!

    2. I completely agree. All the rules regarding racing and corners are inconsistent and too strict, then not enforced randomly.

      First of all, this is supposedly the highest level of Motorsport, yet they have rules on how the drivers are actually allowed to race and defend. I know we’ve had this conversation in the past and I still maintain it’s too far. I get there has to be limits on what’s acceptable and what is not, but all this is ridiculous. Then there’s corners, it’s just a mess. The best solution for the chicane would be like the final corner at Spa. A huge run off area that has a barrier preventing the drivers from rejoining the track without going back to where they came from.

      1. Then enforced randomly*

    3. I agree, by relying on the stewards handing out penalties, there will always be a delay in it, leading to situations which should not really occur (such as Verstappen staying ahead of Vettel and slowing him down, making Riccardo catch up). Whereas by having something on track which automatically slows the driver who cuts the track down hands the time penalty instantly. Also there will be no subjectivity from stewards in that, if you go off you lose time, simple as that. However I disagree with the proposed gravel trap. In my opinion it is very simple, just copy the escape route from the first chikane in Monza, forcing the drivers going off to zig-zag around objects, ensuring that they lose time. Just remember how Rosberg lost the lead in 2014 by going off there.

      Of course this only works for chikanes. But really, it is only in chikanes that there is a huge benefit from going off the track, as in Mexico. I don’t know if the Monza solution would force Hamilton to lose the lead in Mexico since the closest cars were tangeling, but surely the stewards would not have to look into it at all.

    4. Sooo – why not just place polystyrene walls at places where leaving the track could prove advantageous? They can’t be much of a safety hazard, yet driving into them is not helping anyone. Furthermore they are easy to replace or remove as needed. That would solve most of these issues quickly.

    5. Maybe they should put stingers across the run off areas! Job done – race completely ruined for a mistake just like the old days if you smacked into a wall – but no death! Run off areas are bad and really abused at Spa at Puon and Lasource. They are stricter rules in formula vee for abusing the track limits than F1 – that’s a real joke…..

    6. Why not just a 5 secs penalty every time you exceed track limits,
      then see out the penalties at you next pit stop…or at end of race.

    7. A 5 sec penalty isn’t always a penalty, as it often is possible to maintain track position in situations and on tracks, where track position is everything. Run off areas which effectively slows down the car, without dangerous damage is far better. Either that or a real penalty, like cede 1 or 2 positions positions.

    8. Charlie Whiting needs to consult with other stewards. I am quite sure that if, during the Brazilian GP, a driver lost control of his car and ploughed into the side of the car in front, then the stewards wouldn’t hesitate to give a penalty to the driver who lost control of his car and hit the car in front. However, at the Mexican GP they deemed it was acceptable for a driver who lost control of his car to hit the car in front.

    9. That’s not the only inconsistency. Both Raikkonen, last year in Sochi, and Rosberg, this year in Austria, were penalized for pushing off the track. Verstappen wasn’t.
      In same incident with Rosberg in Austria, Hamilton bypassed him off the track and wasn’t penalized.
      In similar incident of Kvyat and Grosjean in Mexico, Kvyat was penalized for bypassing a car that pushed him outside of the outer corner edge.
      Vettel was penalized for moving under breaking. But in US, instead they penalized Kvyat, when Perez popped out right in front of him. Perez was far worse in that incident as lead to collision.

    10. It can be fairly simple… you go offtrack 2s penalty on next pitstop or after the race, no need for “lasting advantage etc..” just simple went of track. Like Hamilton did, boom 2s on first round of pitstops. Verstapen same deal.. 2s after the race. Then Vettel just had to stay within 2s and get the place.

    11. Luis de la garza
      12th November 2016, 19:15

      There are some variations :
      1.- If you go out by your own mistake, like missing the braking zone, bam! Time penalty depending on the place. Example : hamilton in Mx. 7 seconds back boy! You made a mistake, you pay
      2.- if somebody pushed you out of the track (ver in ros) bam! The car behind must immediately give back the position. An i say immediately because i think honestly ves ruined Vet race

    12. Penalties are never going to work I’m afraid. The lasting advantage thing is totally ridiculous, when you are still in front after a huge off road excursion and CW and the stewards say you haven’t gained any, when by staying in the track you would have lost any number of positions. Too open for interpretation and for plain old cheating.

      The only real solution is letting the track take care of it. Avoid at all cost workable shortcuts like T1-T3 at Mexico. Gravel, tyre wall, polystyrene placards, a bollard on the exit, a minefield, a shark pit, whatever. Or if nothing is workable modify the track to avoid the shortcut. Mexico was a haematic* joke, we should never go through it again.
      *Please replace with vernacular

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