George Russell, Williams, Autodromo do Algarve, 2021

Drivers given extra track limits rule for turn five at Algarve

2021 Portuguese Grand Prix

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Additional track limits restrictions will be imposed at a fourth corner on the Autodromo do Algarve following Friday’s running at the track.

F1 race director Michael Masi has advised drivers and teams that track limits will also be enforced at turn five, as well as turns one, four and 15.

Teams were warned about the original three corners in a document issued on Thursday. An updated guidance document issued following second practice stated that in addition to those enforcements, “the track limits at the exit of turn five are defined as when no part of the car remains in contact with the red and white kerb.”

Turn five is a left-handed hairpin which lies at the end of the new, second DRS activation zone along the back straight. As the corner is likely to see more moves for position this year, the updated guidance should help prevent disputes over how far drivers may go to defend or take a position at its exit.

Algarve International Circuit, Portugal, 2020
Algarve International Circuit, Portugal, 2020
In the original guidance issued on Friday, teams were warned that lap times achieved by cutting behind the red and white kerbs at turn one, four and 15 would be deleted. In the latter case, they would also have their subsequent lap time deleted, as running wide there would allow drivers to carry more speed across the starting line.

During the course of today’s two practice sessions, 65 laps were deleted due to track limit violations at turns one and four. Daniel Ricciardo, Charles Leclerc, Nicholas Latifi, Nikita Mazepin, Kimi Raikkonen, Fernando Alonso, Valtteri Bottas and Sebastian Vettel, George Russell and Carlos Sainz Jnr had times deleted for violations at turn one. Sainz, Leclerc, Latifi and Mazepin joined Pierre Gasly, Lance Stroll, Yuki Tsunoda, Mick Schumacher and Lando Norris in also getting times deleted at turn four during first practice.

In the afternoon session, Lewis Hamilton and Max Verstappen joined the ranks of those losing lap times with violations at turn one and Antonio Giovinazzi, who had sat out first practice while Callum Ilott drove his car, also had a time deleted for exceeding the limits at turn four.

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2021 Portuguese Grand Prix

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Author information

Hazel Southwell
Hazel is a freelance journalist who roams the paddocks of Formula E, covering the technical and emotional elements of electric racing. Usually found at...

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24 comments on “Drivers given extra track limits rule for turn five at Algarve”

  1. But not for setting a lap time, so not hugely noteworthy. Pretty much a copy-paste wording concerning Mugello’s penultimate corner or chicane leading into the last corner.
    My point about Algarve’s last corner still stands valid as no one left track there even once in either session, and 99% guaranteed will remain this way throughout the weekend like last year, so entirely redundant.

  2. @Eurobrun

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

    Halfway there ;)

    1. Exciting! More fun than race predictions 😉

    2. I said 1 on Friday night…
      Looks like I did pretty well.

  3. “updated guidance document” will be one of the most-repeated phrases this year

  4. “the track limits at the exit of turn five are defined as when no part of the car remains in contact with the red and white kerb.”

    According to this year’s Sporting Regulations (Rule 27.3), “… 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. …” As far as I can tell from looking at satellite imagery there is a white line defining the track limit at Turn 5, and the kerb is beyond or outside the white track limit line. That suggests to me even if a car has two wheels on the kerb and the other two beyond the kerb and not on the track then it has breached the regulations.
    I don’t know if the Race Director has the authority to stipulate how far beyond the white track limit line a car may go before the Stewards can do something about it. Rather the situation is once all 4 wheels have gone beyond the track limit line then regardless of the distance they went the Stewards have the right to delete that driver’s lap time. So if the driver has two wheels on the kerb at Turn 5 and two wheels beyond that then they can delete that driver’s lap time. Basically we now have a rule that isn’t precise but has become subjective.

    1. @drycrust Masi has always ruled with complete disregard for that section of the sporting regulations. The stewards have turned a blind eye to that section as well. If they actually enforced the white line at all places, nearly every qualy lap at the Red Bull Ring would be in violation multiple times, because the kerbs are so wide the drivers put all four tyres on them with room to spare. I’m just surprised no team have gotten clever and told their drivers to stay within the lines and then protested every other team’s laps to lock out the front row.

      I think Masi’s approach is the right one; that section of the sporting regs is obsolete and should be changed. The way that cars and kerbs have evolved, the red-and-white kerbs are for all intents and purposes part of the track. The drivers treat them that way, the cars’ suspensions are built to drive on them, and they’re no longer the deterrent they were meant to be. MotoGP riders say the anti-slip paint on the kerbs at European circuits is so good, the kerbs usually have more grip than the track itself.

      Little wonder that MotoGP has explicitly changed its definition of track limits to include the red-and-white kerbs everywhere they exist. I’d like to see F1 adopt that too; given the current state of the sport, that seems to be the most practical and realistic definition of the track limit.

      1. I feel the opposite.
        As the kerbs are now flat and fast, they should be under even tighter scrutiny. If they were high, rough and slippery, they would be a natural deterrent to leaving the track.

        As for MotoGP – they only have 2 wheels. It’s fair enough that they can use them.
        By the time a car has 2 wheels beyond the kerb, they have all 4 outside the line.
        And regardless of whether 27.3 is considered to be subjectively obsolete or not, it’s still in the current regulations, and therefore, must be enforced.

        If you want to see disregard for that rule, look back to Whiting’s time.

        1. @S Whether you like it or not, in the real world, rules can be disregarded by mutual consent if all parties to the relevant social and legal contracts choose to do so. It happens every time a police officer chooses not to pull over a driver who is 1 km/h over the legal speed limit.

          Enforcement aside, on the merits of the issue, the whole point of natural deterrents like kerbs is that they deter. If they no longer do so, they’ve outlived their usefulness. If you prefer, just paint the white line behind the kerbs. But we don’t live in a world anymore where it makes sense for the red-and-white kerbs not to be considered part of the racing surface.

          1. It doesn’t matter whether there is a kerb, gravel, grass or tarmac. The track is defined by white lines.

            The ‘real world’ isn’t relevant here (though being lax in enforcement encourages transgression there too) – in the sporting world, rules are everything. If they are subjectively or inconsistently applied, they are useless.
            F1 clearly benefits from the controversy this creates, so they are satisfied to not have consistency – despite pretty much everyone everywhere calling for more consistency.
            F1 are quite the outsider, though, in the sporting world.

            Seriously, kerbs shouldn’t need to kill people in order to be effective and useful, should they?
            Ultimately, they exist to prevent surface damage off the track, not to make the track larger.

          2. If they are subjectively or inconsistently applied, they are useless.

            You are correct: the white line is a useless rule.

          3. Maybe so – but nevertheless, it is the rule.

          4. For me it just need to be consistent. Other racing series can enforce the track limit within the white lines rather easily. It just F1 that seems to have trouble in doing it. I personally don’t mind if kerbs being counted as part of the track, but currently the way they do it is selecting few corners where kerbs are part of the track. This is really annoying to follow. Either all the kerbs are part of the track or not. And like you’ve said, if they want only few corners where the kerbs are okay, then paint the white line at the outside edge of the kerbs, problem solved. I remember the first time I know about this exception thing when I was annoyed with some drivers basically leaving the track to overtake and turned out to be that specifically for that corner the kerb was part of the track. Right now I need to guess which kerbs are okay or not. I’m not going to remember corner 5, or some numbers since I’m just a casual fans of F1. The way they do this just makes it hard for people to follow the racing.

          5. @markzastrow I agree with painting the white line on the other side of the kerb so the kerb is part of the track. I can’t understand why a sport that prides itself in ingenuity can’t work this out. Just because a kerb is part of the track doesn’t mean a driver must drive on the kerb, but it does make it obvious to everyone where the track limits are.
            @S I like your comment, “… in the sporting world, rules are everything. If they are subjectively or inconsistently applied, they are useless.”

  5. This whole ongoing saga is just a total embarrassment. What is this the pinnacle of, if the drivers can’t even stay on the track? And aren’t even encourage to?

    Just enforce the white line everywhere. They’ll soon stop going over the lines.
    Why complicate and confuse things by introducing an unnecessary inconsistency?

    1. This whole ongoing saga is just a total embarrassment.

      Well, I completely agree with you there.

      Just enforce the white line everywhere. They’ll soon stop going over the lines.

      I doubt they’ll stop, actually. They might get better, but they’ll take risks, like they always do, and sometimes it will work, and sometimes it won’t.

      The problem for me is that while the whole exercise may be fair, it becomes deeply unsatisfying. The best drivers and the fastest cars are reduced to competing in car park autocross, seeing who can best keep their tyres on a white line, which is a boundary the drivers can’t even see well — since, unlike a wall, it disappears under the car — and certainly can’t feel at all. At least when the red-and-white kerbs are considered part of the track, the drivers have some physical feedback to react against.

      1. The ‘best’ drivers should be able to keep their car on the track.
        They don’t usually have too much trouble keeping their car on the track when there is some other surface beyond the line.
        Staying on the track requires compromise, driving skill and racecraft – ignoring track limits is just taking away their need to be good at what they do.

        1. None of that is counter to what I’m saying, though, which is not that track limits should be ignored but that they should be drawn on the outside of kerbs.

          Obviously, until we can convince tracks to reconfigure themselves with purely natural, physical track limits, we’re stuck with some form of arbitrary track limit. I just don’t see any good reason why those track limits should be drawn on the inside of kerbs, and many good reasons to draw them on the outside of them.

          1. The lines and kerbs are all specified in relation to each other in the FIA track design and grading system.
            If that is all wrong as you say, then that needs to be changed – along with every FIA graded circuit in the world that was built to the current design specifications (which explicitly specify that all kerbs must be outside of the track edges – quite obviously because they are outside of, and not at all part of, the track).

            Either way – F1 needs to run by the rules that are currently in place, not the ones that have not yet been implemented.
            Or worse, the ones they decide to make up their own on the fly.

  6. The Track Limits Updates need to be tracked.
    Keith was asked to set up a feature so there could be a contest, and naturally a winner.
    My vote was 3 updates and it is looking pretty promising.
    If not at this track, then the next one or alternatively all the tracks and make the contest based on a cumulative number for the season.
    Also a bonus point at each track for guessing how many drivers will be pushed back on the start grid due to their fastest Q time being deleted.

  7. I’m pretty sure that track limits have only become important in order to give Crofty something to yabber on about during broadcasts.

    Between that and sprint races there’s not much to chat about mindlessly for those guys.

  8. In other news the organizers of this years summer Olympics have told the press that they will not alter the rules in the long jump competition to allow athletes to put their foot over the leading edge of the take off board. Since this is what all the athletes were trained to do their entire careers, the statement is not expected to cause any controversy among athletes, the press or the audience.

    According to some rumors, the Wimbeldon tennis tournament organizers are preparing a similar statement saying that the written rules of tennis will apply to this years tournament, just as usual. An anonymous source close to the organization was quoted saying: “If a player hits the ball outside of bounds, it will result in the loss of the point, it’s the rules”. According to the same rumors the same rules will apply to all the matches in the entire tournament, including all the finals.

  9. Track limits, currently the most tedious aspect of F1.

  10. RocketTankski
    1st May 2021, 11:50

    just redraw the track limits 2 metres outside of where they currently sit, and have that as the new limit. Drivers may cross the limit on 5 corners, by 78%, on Tuesday, Thursdays and Weekends only.
    Special dispensation can be given to the teams the FIA likes the most. Terms and conditions apply.

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