Red Bull complaints over “brutal” track limits calls cut no ice with FIA

2021 Portuguese Grand Prix

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FIA Formula 1 race director Michael Masi dismissed Red Bull’s complaints over track limits decisions during the Portuguese Grand Prix weekend.

Horner said the stewards’ rulings on drivers going off-track had been “quite expensive for us this weekend”.

He referred to “the pole position yesterday”, which Valtteri Bottas took for Mercedes after Max Verstappen’s quicker lap time earlier in Q3 was deleted for a track limits infringement at turn four.

At the end of today’s race Verstappen had another lap time deleted for straying beyond the track limits at turn 14. That decision cost him the bonus point for fastest lap, which went to Mercedes driver Bottas.

After the race Verstappen described the decision as “odd”. No other driver had a lap time deleted during the race for running wide at that corner.

“But for track limits that we didn’t see anybody else have the penalty that Max did today,” said Horner. “He would have achieved that lap.”

Verstappen was also involved in a row over track limits in the season-opening race in Bahrain, where he had to surrender the lead to Hamilton after overtaking him off-track.

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“The whole track limit debate is just frustrating,” said Horner. “I mean, it’s been brutal for us across the first three events. The win in Bahrain, the pole position yesterday and then the fastest lap. So it’s been pretty expensive for us.”

Max Verstappen, Red Bull, Autodromo do Algarve, 2021
Verstappen lost his fastest lap bonus
However Masi pointed out that drivers had been consulted about the revised definition of track limits at turn 14, which was announced on Saturday morning. He said Verstappen’s penalty was issued “as per the event notes.”

“Following a review of what happened on Friday in particular, turn 14 was being used far more,” Masi explained. “It wasn’t an issue in 2020 but became one in 2021. So as a result I gave all the drivers the latitude to use the red and white kerb at that corner in a similar manner to turn five.

“However they were told that if they gained a lasting advantage out of each of those – [by] overtaking a car, [being] faster in a mini sector, whatever it may have been – that it will be looked at.”

Verstappen’s line through the corner was a clear violation, said Masi. “Having looked at it post-race, it’s very clear that Max was… off the track [and] that he was faster in that mini-sector than anyone and as a result got the fastest lap of the race, which is a world championship point.”

A total of 18 laps times were deleted during the race for infringements at turns one, four and 14, in addition to others earlier in the weekend.

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“There were a number of lap times that were deleted during the race. Also, there were a few that were deleted during qualifying. And obviously we had a greater number – where there was less of an impact – during the practice sessions, that were deleted.

“So I think that shows that we were policing the track limits for everyone equally. In addition, it was consistent with the manner in which the event notes were portrayed, particularly the additional version three that went out on Saturday morning, and that was following the discussion at the drivers’ meeting about what would and wouldn’t be tolerated.”

Horner also claimed Sergio Perez lost a position early in the race because Lando Norris overtook him while driving off-track. Masi said the stewards examined this incident and concluded the pass was legal.

“That was actually reported by Red Bull during the race and was reviewed and no, Lando did not overtake Sergio at turn four outside of the track. It was a passing manoeuvre under brakes into turn five at the end of a DRS zone.”

Norris said he never doubted the pass was legal. “I thought I was fine,” he said. “I’d have to see from an on board and from the T-cam or something. But no, I went to the inside – if I went off, I would have gone to the outside of him or something.”

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2021 Portuguese Grand Prix

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Dieter Rencken
Dieter Rencken has held full FIA Formula 1 media accreditation since 2000, during which period he has reported from over 300 grands prix, plus...
Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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44 comments on “Red Bull complaints over “brutal” track limits calls cut no ice with FIA”

  1. Horner is getting desperate as the high hopes for this season fall apart.

    1. high hopes are a merc fabrication. Masi showing his incompetence at all times, of course he had a mini purple there, it is a fast race lap, he could have a made a mistake there and still be purple also he had the tyre on the kerb but for this even the white line is what it counts, every weekend it is something different, whatever fits the narrative.

  2. Isn’t the point that Lando went wide the corner before (4) in order to get a run on Perez into 5?

    Surely that can’t be allowed? Is Masi really saying that’s ok?

    1. @john-h While Lando never overtook when off track, one can ponder whether briefly going wide at T4 gave him a speed advantage into the next corner, helping him to get alongside in the first place. Although, maybe he would’ve got that run into the hairpin even without crossing the curbing. Not necessarily a clear-cut, given that Max more likely lost than gained speed and time on his invalidated Q3 lap. Individual cases can vary.

  3. NoT a LaStInG aDvAnTaGe…. Seriously, those words need to get removed in any form from the regulations. What a ridiculous way to run a world championship.

    Either have the rule that the white line is the limit end of story and anyone fully over it for any reason will be penalised or let the drivers drive on whatever part of the circuit is the fastest.

    Anything else will always open up room for debate, subjectivity and ultimately disrepute.

    1. That sounds good in principle, but what if someone runs wide after losing a front wing? What if someone has an oversteer moment, losing time but goes over the white line, would you punish them for that even though they’ve just lost the backend and lost time anyway?

      1. Who says they need to be punished as I said, they can go the other way if they think it’s fairer. In both of those situations even if there’s an additional punishment, is still fairer than the current, sometimes punished, sometimes not, shambles.

        It needs to be the same rule for everybody, not one rule for somebody if they are in a fighting position and the cameras are all on them, while others may get away with it every now and then, or maybe not.

      2. If you mishit the the tennis ball because you tripped, and it goes out, you lose the point. Out is out; an unintentional foul should be punished the same as an intentional foul and will prevent controversial decisions.

        Reply moderated
        1. Indeed @greenflag. We can then lament that it is a shame the player tripped. But everyone is in the clear on whether it is within the rules or not. I agree this should be evident, it is what the white lines were painted on for, @Skipgamer.

          The most conistent rule is the one that is already in place – if you go off track, you are off track and can be penalised for it. A lap time set that way won’t count (i.e. it is deleted). And it makes sense that if you do it several times, you can get time penalties, like you already get for the “monitored places”. A pass made that way has to be undone – the spot given back, or if that is no longer possible, the driver should get a penalty.

          As for the thing you bring up there @john-h, I think a penalty when a driver does a single infraction (without it helping them set a faster lap, or passing/defending a position) should not immediately be punished. But if they would do it repeatedly, it should.

      3. @john-h They have 3 warnings before being penalized, so if they keep it on track rest of the time, it’s not an issue. Lap time deleted which shouldn’t matter as probably won’t set fastest lap without front wing.

        As mentioned in the past, just have sensors and consistency, all running off track gets lap time deleted nd warning until 3rd offense. Only exception, being pushed off the track.

        1. Yeah agree with that @jeanrien. The three strikes and lap time deleted makes sense.

  4. “But for track limits that we didn’t see anybody else have the penalty that Max did today,” said Horner.

    I don’t get how he thinks only Verstappen was hit by having his lap time deleted. In total 18 lap times deleted. 13 lap times deleted for turn 1, 4 lap times for turn 4 (also Verstappen) and 1 for turn 14.

    So he’s saying Verstappen was the only one penalized at turn 14? Or the only one who had the final fastest lap time deleted?

    The race director notes v3 changes from Saturday morning don’t mention turn 14 for track limits “lap time deletion” during the race though. That’s only for turns 1, 4 and 15 where it states that breaking track limits: “will result in that lap time being invalidated by the stewards” during “any practice session or the race”.

    The stewards now put this under the general term “gaining an advantage”. But then why explicitly state for 1, 4 and 15 that the lap time will be deleted and not for 14?

    Especially since during the Bahrain weekend “gaining an advantage” was explained to mean “gaining track position and not giving it back” rather than gaining a small time advantage or small tyre wear advantage.

    Either way, why can’t they just stop complaining about these track limits? It’s just a horrible mess when they try to enforce them anyway. Especially if they do it for a few turns and not for all.

    Even worse when they don’t accommodate for drivers going off by accident. In Q3 Verstappen clearly lost time with his car stepping out like that. Yet they invalidated his lap time anyway.

    1. Magic word is in the race….

      1. @macleod He is always in his own little world, he appears on this site only after a good result of HAM and of course he spams on every single article. A self-respecting person shouldn’t even bother messing around with him.

        1. @f1-fan, Thanks i will keep that in mind ! A bit sad i will ignore him in the future.

      2. @macleod @f1-fan The list I gave is for lap times deleted during the race only

        I don’t get how he thinks only Verstappen was hit by having his lap time deleted. In total 18 lap times deleted. 13 lap times deleted for turn 1, 4 lap times for turn 4 (also Verstappen) and 1 for turn 14.

        So magic words are really “reading comprehension”

    2. @f1osaurus Gasly lost one of his QLF laps for the T14 exit. Two drivers over the weekend, one each.

      1. The regulation the stewards used for both Gasl & Verstappen was 12.4.1.e of the FIA International Sporting Code which allows them to do the following:

        12.4.1.e deletion of a Driver’s qualifying and practicelap(s);

        I don’t see how they can delete a race lap from that provision, and as far as I can tell neither the FIA Sporting Code nor the F1 Sporting Regulations lay out any way for race laps to be deleted/invalidated, which means that only the Race Directors’ Notes set out how that works, and they only mention time invalidation for turns 1, 4, and 15. They outline the track limits at turns 5 and 14 but do not say anything about track time invalidation there, so it seems like by the words of the documents it isn’t possible for them to invalidate this time?

        This obviously gives the conclusion that you can cut the track as much as you want when going for the fastest lap, which is silly, but appears to be what the FIA in their infinite wisdom have written.

        Reply moderated
        1. Except that Article 27.3 of the sporting regulations also applies…
          A fastest lap and the accompanying championship point would classify as a lasting advantage.

      2. @jerejj Well I assumed he was referring to race lap time deletions only. During the race only Verstappen had his lap time deleted for turn 14 infringement

  5. Just watched the onboard footage from Norris and he went off track with all 4 wheels before he did the overtake on Perez.

    Not sure if taking more speed from a corner by going off track is seen as a lasting advantage though.

    As for the situations with Max, these were so obvious there is no need to discuss imho

    1. @anunaki Maybe he would’ve got a run on Perez into the hairpin even without going wide past curbing. Not necessarily a clear-cut, given that Max more likely lost than gained speed and time on his invalidated Q3 lap. Individual cases can vary.

  6. I didn’t see the footage of Norris leaving the track. But Max did both times he was penalised.
    Stay on the track, you won’t lose your time.

  7. Put the gravel in.. and we are done

  8. reginald Lee
    3rd May 2021, 2:15

    Enough said. Stay on the track and your time will not be deleted, especially when you are trying to get fastest lap.

    Reply moderated
  9. F1 needs to solve this. Or they go Indy way and just leave drivers drive, or simply make the rules and follow it.
    Every time a pilot passes with all 4 wheels of track limit is punished. Norris used it to pass Perez. Return position. Verstapen used to get best lap, delete. I wod go further. Every crossing, get 1s. Whether at pit stop or at end of race. There would be no space for complain.
    And define track limites at once and don’t change during weekend.

    1. 1s would be silly. And useless. If you’re stuck behind someone, you just do it, then take the second and tadaaa. Extra points or victory with no real consequence.

      And that’s the issue. Without the “lasting advantage” check, either every crossing of the white line gets punishes heavily, or punishments will just be taken. None of which are better than what we have now.

      1. @losd

        either every crossing of the white line gets punishes heavily

        That’s what we should have. They should stay within the lines or face consequences.

        1. @aapje Absolutely not. Monaco is a useless race for a reason. Nobody taking chances is a big part of that reason.

          1. @losd

            Monaco is useless because there are no overtaking opportunities, not because of the walls. See singapore for a good race with strict limits.

          2. @aapje. It’s better, but not much.

  10. Someone has to direct race director Michael Masi to not be whimsical. There should be one set of rules on Friday and it should stick for the entire weekend.

    1. Davethechicken
      3rd May 2021, 7:32

      Ideally yes. But if it becomes apparent that drivers are gaining advantage unfairly, it should be stopped.

      1. There are 1 set of rules (see my post further down), but the FIA aren’t applying them at all. That’s why there are more memo’s then racedays in a weekend adding to confusion and annoyance.

  11. Davethechicken
    3rd May 2021, 7:36

    Horner’s comments sound like a sore loser.
    The rule is clear. It is his team and drivers business to read them before each session in a GP weekend.
    Crying that Max was the only one penalised at turn 14 is silly. He clearly left the track. Unless he names another driver who did not have their lap time deleted after leaving the track at 14, he has absolutely no valid argument.

    1. @Davethechicken Gasly lost one of his QLF laps for the T14 exit. Two drivers over the weekend, one each.

      1. Davethechicken
        3rd May 2021, 7:53

        Thanks Jere.
        I think Horner’s words would be better spent in private with his driver telling him to play by the rules.

  12. I agree. I’ve suggested this before, but put a physical deterrent at all slow-speed corner exits and leave lap time invalidation only for the high-speed stuff like pre-2020. This shouldn’t be too much to ask.
    I can understand them as T14 was never a target for lap time invalidation. The FIA made individual exceptions for two drivers, one each. Similarly, they made exceptions for individual cases at Yas Marina’s penultimate corner, despite not being mentioned in the event notes.
    Consistency, first of all, but even easier would be merely bringing back the 2019 level of TL enforcement as nothing was necessarily wrong with that. Still, Masi mysteriously became unnecessarily excessive after his first season as the FIA race director.

    1. @jerejj Imagine what would happen if they actually applied all the rules as they are written :0

  13. Here’s an easy solution for the track-limits (https://www.fia.com/sites/default/files/2021_formula_1_sporting_regulations_-_iss_8_-_2021-04-28_1.pdf)

    27.3 Drivers must make every reasonable effort to use the track at all times and may not 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.

    Sounds easy enough, right? Now FIA just apply your own rules consistently and no one’s gonna talk about tracklimits anymore… big bonus: you won’t have to write 3 memo’s about monitoring track limits in 2 days…

    So am I missing something? I don’t get why there’s discussion about track limits at all!

    1. Justifiable reason: that’s for the teams to prove that there is one (such as taking avoiding action in case of a crash, or some technical failure, or even a drivers error). If it’s justifiable then there’s no way it can lead to a faster laptime or any other advantage.

  14. Pjotr (@pietkoster)
    3rd May 2021, 10:16

    Max fastest was on camera. Botta’s run was not. That is why they came up with the penalty.

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