Max Verstappen, Red Bull, Autodromo do Algarve, 2020

Kerbs to mark track limits at Portuguese GP after spate of invalid laps in 2020

2021 Portuguese Grand Prix

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Track limits will be monitored from the off at this weekend’s Portuguese Grand Prix, using the less strict guidelines that last year’s race weekend finished with.

The opening day of Formula 1’s first event at the track last year was dominated by track limits concerns. Over the first two practice sessions 125 lap times were deleted for drivers running over the white lines that mark the edges of the track at the exit of the Primeira right-hander at the beginning of the lap and the crested turn four.

As a result, F1 changed how track limits was policed at those corners. Over the rest of the weekend, drivers who cut “behind the red-and-white kerb on the exit” at those corners were considered to have left the track. This distinction has been kept for 2021, and any lap time a driver sets while leaving the circuit at either of those corners will be deleted.

The exit of Galp, the long downhill right-hander turn 15 which ends the lap, is also being policed. The quick corner has an extensive run-off area. According to the race director’s event notes, “a driver will be judged to have left the track if no part of the car remains in contact with the track” there.

Algarve International Circuit, Portugal, 2020
Track data: Algarve International Circuit, Portimao, Portugal

Any lap time a driver sets while leaving the corner at turn 15 will be deleted, as will the subsequent lap, due to the corner’s location.

If drivers exceed the track limits at any of those corners a total of three times during the race, they will be shown a black-and-white flag. A further transgression by the same driver will then be reported to the stewards. Last year Lance Stroll and Romain Grosjean were penalised during the race for track limits violations.

As at Imola two weeks ago, where Stroll and Yuki Tsunoda were penalised for separate track limits offences during the Emilia-Romagna Grand Prix, the limits will be policed in the same way in all sessions. In the season-opening Bahrain Grand Prix different interpretations of the rules were used in different sessions, leading to confusion during the race.

In a change for this year’s Portuguese GP, Pirelli have decreased the minimum starting pressures for the rear tyres from 20psi to 19psi to meet the very different demands on the rubber from the undulating Algarve circuit.

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2021 Portuguese Grand Prix

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Ida 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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42 comments on “Kerbs to mark track limits at Portuguese GP after spate of invalid laps in 2020”

  1. Sweepstakes anyone?
    How many further updates will there be to the track limit rules this weekend?
    I say 2 after this.

    1. Keith could start a separate site for this, @eurobrun.

      1. Put me down for three by the time the race is started and two warnings during the race.

  2. T4, like every other slow-speed corner, should have a physical deterrent instead. The last corner is the most pointless (or weirdest at least) corner of choice for lap time invalidation since this form of enforcement began in 2013. Masi still doesn’t get the memo, even though it’s obvious and was already before last season’s inaugural event. The turning angle is too ‘slight’ for off-track excursions, especially on a dry track.

    1. The turning angle is too ‘slight’ for off-track excursions, especially on a dry track.

      @jerejj care to elaborate on what you mean by this?

      1. @minnis The slighter a turn or curve is, the less likely for a car to go wide past the white line/curbing like at several tighter corners, such as Bahrain’s T4, Silverstone’s Copse, or the other two target ones of this track to name a few.

        1. The optimum angle for a car to drive at is 180 degrees (i.e, going straight) – all drivers will aim to make a corner as close to 180 degrees as possible by ensuring a wide entry, touching the apex, and a wide exit (i.e, approximating the tangent to a curve as closely as physically possible) in order to keep minimum speed as high as possible.

          With any corner that is not exactly 180 degrees, there exists the possibility that a driver will go off the track in an attempt to closer approximate the tangent. There is often some sort of penalty for doing so, such as kerbs/grass/dust that will reduce a drivers speed sufficiently that the risk/reward ratio of running wide is too slim, especially in more slight curves.

          Here, the FIA have obviously thought that a sufficient risk/reward ratio exists that drivers may wish to go wide to gain more lap time. If the curve is sufficiently slight that drivers will not wish to run wide – well, then there is nothing to police. If drivers do wish to run wide, then they are correct to police the track limits.

          I fail to see your issue.

        2. @jerejj Yeah, it’s called taking an early apex. But it isn’t a reason to drive right off the track.

          There shouldn’t need to be a wall or gravel in order for the rules to apply. What are the rules even for, anyway?

    This really is the first thing every driver learns when they get into a go-kart for the first time.
    Why can’t ‘the pinnacle’ get it right?

    Pinnacle of stupidity.

    And @eurobrun – I’ll put $10 on 1 change on Friday night.

    1. White lines when i was carting the end of the track was where the grass or tyres started and When i cart indoor i never seen them either.
      When you race you ignore white lines as they aren’t important (they were to make the track visiable for viewers) so trackdesigners should make sure that turns can’t be cut off by drivers.. just put gravel, grass or curbs (or a wall)

      So a turn you can undercut just make it impossible todo so.

      1. An correction the finish and start line were white :)

      2. @macleod White line rule applies to the places where I arrive-and-drive go-kart – although I’ve only been to one track where breaking the rule was beneficial, due to one of the following:

        1) Design of the track naturally punishing excursions over the line
        2) Run-off that slow the kart down
        3) Obstacles (like tyre walls) in the way
        4) 100% reliable monitoring by humans
        5) One place had a bizarre mechanism which cut half the engine speed when crossing the white line

        Take your pick (or picks, since in practise venues need a combination of approaches).

      3. Uh.. Yeah…
        Public go kart hire with your boozy mates and actually beginning a career as a racing driver aren’t quite the same…

  4. Will they change the rule every race? What a joke.

    How hard is it to paint the white line where it needs to be.

    1. The white lines already are where they need to be. That’s the problem. They don’t recognise them or enforce them as the limit.

      1. One race its the white line, the next race its the kerbs. Why cant they paint the white line behind the kerb if thats what they want in some corners. The kerb would be part of the track in this case. Fans would know exactly where the track is the whole season.

        1. Why should they move the line?
          It’s already written in the regs (Article 27.3) what the track is defined by. Using anything other than the white lines is a contradiction, and therefore, is inconsistent and inviting controversy.

          They can still use kerbs – but only with 2 wheels.
          When all 4 are outside the lines, they are off the track.

          1. @S I would argue the sporting regs — which explicitly say the kerbs are not part of the track — have been rendered obsolete by the evolution of car and kerb design.

            The reality today is that non-sausage kerbs are so slight that they’re generally taken to be part of the track — a MotoGP bike is not violating track limits when all of its tyres are on a kerb, beyond the white line. That suits me fine, as it’s more satisfying to watch drivers fight to stay on the kerbs than it is to watch them try to keep their tyres on a white line.

            If the white line is going to be used as the consistent, universal limit, @vjanik’s suggestion of painting it behind kerbs where necessary makes a lot of sense to me.

    2. Yes, every bureaucracy needs to increase.

  5. So are they adding kerbs or not. I’m confused.

  6. Losing 2 laps for a T15 excursion could be pretty huge in qualifying! All the more drama for us.

    1. @zann Don’t worry – no one will go off. No one went wide there last year – no one will go wide this time either. It’s a pointless place for TL enforcement anyway because of the steering angle.

      1. Having track limits enforced on only certain parts of the track is the pointless and ridiculous part.

        It’s like saying they are allowed to speed in the pits provided they aren’t near any garages.
        Or they can weave around in the braking zones, but only at turns 1, 5 and 13.

        Consistency is what we have all been asking for, isn’t it?

      2. Yes @jerejj, unless it’s really more T14-15 they mean – a cunning way to spice things up!

        1. @zann No, only T15. Otherwise, T14 would also be mentioned in the event notes.

          1. I don’t think you’ve quite understood the issue @jerejj.

          2. @zann How? T14 and 15 are separate corners.

          3. Now you are all “Off Track” and these posts and all of your next posts, will be deleted.

  7. Tommy Scragend
    29th April 2021, 14:15

    “a driver will be judged to have left the track if no part of the car remains in contact with the track”

    Michael Masi wins the Stating The Obvious Grand Prix.

    1. It wasn’t applied in Bahrain, so not as obvious as the regulations make it look.

  8. Masi really not covering his tenure in glory over what should be a pretty simple task. I don’t remember Charlie Whiting ever having issues at almost every race. I’m beginning to think Masi is not very good at his job, full stop. And no it’s not just the kerbs. It’s starting sessions with cars being recovered. It’s the safety car and safety light incidents. He’s becoming a bit too visible for what should ideally be quite an invisible role.

    1. The reason Whiting didn’t have any issues with track limits is because he didn’t enforce any. This is the main reason F1 are having the difficulties they are now – they all still think they should be allowed to drive wherever they want.
      If they’d just enforced the rules consistently all along, there wouldn’t be an issue. The rules would be respected 99.9% of the time, rather than 5% of the time.

    2. @bealzbob Agreed. Whiting wasn’t perfect either, and overall, I don’t have a great preference over these two.
      Masi has been decently okay except for some stuff, like what you mentioned. Track limits enforcement is pretty much the only matter I don’t like about Masi + Occasionally using full SC instead of VSC or standing restarts after red flag, but mainly TL. He was okay with TL enforcement in 2019 but suddenly became unnecessarily excessive after his first season as the FIA race director.

      1. Yeah, applying the sporting regulations as they are written is so excessive…
        And they are still only doing a fraction of what’s actually written, with all these exceptions.

  9. It’s 2021, can we not do this electronically already? Sheesh

  10. There should be no such thing as track limits. It should be asphalt and everything else. If a driver wants to leave the pavement let them. If there’s no wall or gravel or grass or molten lava pits it should be fair game. Every driver can do the same thing and find the fastest way around the track for them. One of the main problems with the racing is the cars have outgrown the tracks and there’s now only one racing line in every corner. The one decent thing about NASCAR races is that you have variations in the lines that cars will run. Some find it faster to hang it around the outside of turns while others like to hug the inside. It makes it hard to discern who’s actually ahead at times.

    1. The problem with no track limits is drivers are going to start taking shortcuts until you end up with Mario kart.

      1. @aliced that’s why if it’s not paved it has to be punitive. Like rumble strips or preferably molten lava.

    2. This.. and only this. No TL means no problem. Can drivers cut a corner on your track? Than that’s the tracks fault. In any case, it would be the same for everyone and therefore automatically be ok. No more whining on the radio. No more instructions to give a position back. No more time penalties after the race for this. Problem solved.

      And no, painting lines on a car park is not a track. End of.

  11. Turn 15: “a driver will be judged to have left the track if no part of the car remains in contact with the track” there.

    What is the track then? The red or the white part of the kerb? Surely not the track as we know it with the white line. Maybe the green part outside of the kerb?

  12. I guess no one told Villeneuve and Arnoux about the white lines.

  13. I wish they’d just get this straight. Define the track limit clearly, mark the track limit on the track in paint, if vehicle exceeds track limit then lap is deleted.
    If they want to move the limit line painted on the track, fine, do it.
    As it stands right now track limits are a mess of conflicting and arbitrary decisions with no clear definition.

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