Different track limits rules for qualifying and race in Bahrain

2021 Bahrain Grand Prix

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Different track limits rules will be applied at turn four for qualifying and the race during the Bahrain Grand Prix weekend.

Before the race weekend began drivers were told track limits would not be enforced at the right-hand hairpin, and they could use the painted run-off beyond the exit kerb without their lap times bring deleted.

However race director Michael Masi issued revised guidance for drivers ahead of the second practice, including new instructions regarding turn four. It now specifies different instructions for practice – which includes ‘qualifying practice’ – and the race.

For practice and qualifying, the rules state “a lap time achieved during any practice session by leaving the track and cutting behind the red and white kerb on the exit of turn four, will result in that lap time being invalidated by the stewards”.

However during the race drivers have been told “the track limits at the exit of turn four will not be monitored with regard to setting a lap time, as the defining limits are the artificial grass and the gravel trap in that location.”

“In all cases during the race, drivers are reminded of the provisions of Article 27.3 of the Sporting Regulations,” it adds. This rule states: “drivers must make every reasonable effort to use the track at all times and may not leave the track without a justifiable reason”. The white lines bordering the asphalt define the track edge.

A total of nine lap times were deleted for track limits infringements at turn four during second practice, five of which were set by Valtteri Bottas.

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Elliot Wood
Often found in junior single-seater paddocks around Europe doing journalism and television commentary, or dabbling in teaching Photography back in the UK. Currently based...

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17 comments on “Different track limits rules for qualifying and race in Bahrain”

  1. Ah, the usual F1 thing of overcomplicating things. Based on this, they will change the track from quali to race as the “natural” limits change.

  2. Masi seems to have forgotten why he specifically stopped enforcing TL at the T4 exit last year later on the first weekend. He should make up his mind whether to police this specific part of the track or not. Treating one session differently from the rest is even weirder. Last year, he was unnecessarily excessive in general compared to 2019, but hopefully more like 2019 this year, although I don’t have much hope.

  3. They should just impose track limits as the white line for the whole circuit and every session. Job done.

    Reply moderated
  4. White lines. All tracks. All circuits. All sessions. All season-round.

    Somehow F1 manages to make one of the simplest rules in the rulebook a complete mess time after time. How Whiting and Masi got their jobs in the first place? Can I apply?

    1. Agreed. It needn’t be so difficult.

  5. @huhhii Whiting was okay with track limits enforcement, and so was Masi in 2019, but for some reason, he became unnecessarily excessive last year.

    1. @jerejj No he wasn’t. Not as terrible as Masi, but pretty terrible nevertheless. White lines are to be found everywhere, it would be so simple to use them at any given time. At least in dry conditions. If there’s a wet quali and driver goes wide in one corner and it’s clear he loses time by doing so yet still improves in other parts of the circuit that’d be acceptable IMO.

  6. Codemasters will be fuming at the FIA for this. LOL

    1. @baasbas I’ve read that portion of the sporting regulations, and the point in it is pretty clear-cut, so what’s there to hate?

      1. The fact someone had to put it in the rule book because tracks are designed too lazy… I would say

  7. So what if on sunday some driver decides to overtake around the outside of turn 4, totally and clearly leaving the track?
    The FIA make a mess of such simple things…

  8. This is so stupid.

    Why do they struggle so hard with this, just enforce the regulations as written, the white line is the edge of the circuit, you are not allowed off the circuit. It works for every corner for every track that they will race at, no discussion needed, the end.

    The regulations SPECIFICALLY say that kerbs ARE NOT a part of the track.

    2021 FORMULA ONE SPORTING REGULATIONS
    27) DRIVING
    27.3
    Drivers must make every reasonable effort to use the track at all times and may not deliberately
    leave the track without a justifiable reason.
    Drivers will be judged to have left the track if no part of the car remains in contact with it and,
    for the avoidance of doubt, any white lines defining the track edges are considered to be part of
    the track but the kerbs are not.
    Should a car leave the track the driver may re-join, however, this may only be done when it is
    safe to do so and without gaining any lasting advantage. At the absolute discretion of the race
    director a driver may be given the opportunity to give back the whole of any advantage he
    gained by leaving the track.

    Reply moderated
  9. I don’t get it. If it’s to be part of the track, repaint the lines and reposition the kerb. If it’s not, enforce it. Why must it be any more complex than that?

    1. @tommy-c I know. But I also think they enjoy having arbitrary rules to be able to steer outcomes somewhat. We’ve seen extreme difference in judging where massive track cutting is allowed and the slightest is punished. Don’t forget that sports is the last refuge of the ‘good old boys’ -club, and they don’t want to be checked so rules are deliberately left vague and have varying interpretation.

  10. I think they’re trying to keep the track wide there so as to not discourage action during the race while not have the travesty of every qually lap take the path.
    Either that or Bottas slipped him a fifty.

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