Red Bull urge consistency as track limits calls frustrate Verstappen and Perez

2021 Portuguese Grand Prix

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Max Verstappen was puzzled by the stewards’ decision to confiscate the bonus point for fastest lap which he briefly scored at the end of the Portuguese Grand Prix.

The Red Bull driver believed he had scored the point for fastest lap, immediately after getting out of the car at the end of the race. However his lap time was deleted when the stewards ruled he had run too wide at turn 14.

“That’s a bit odd because they were not checking track limits in 14,” said Verstappen, “but whatever.”

Drivers were issued three different sets of guidance regarding track limits over the course of the race weekend. The third, issued on Saturday, warned them their lap times would be deleted if they went too wide at turn 14.

“Track limits are a bone of contention aren’t they?” Verstappen’s team principal Christian Horner told Sky. “And the consistency of their application.”

Verstappen’s team mate Sergio Perez was also unhappy with a track limits call. He accused McLaren driver Lando Norris of overtaking him with all four wheels off the track.

“He got overtaken by a car over the track limits,” said Horner. “We get a document from the FIA, it changes from one day to the next and the application of these are frustrating. Sergio was super-frustrated by that.”

Verstappen qualified third and was able to pass Lewis Hamilton for second after an early Safety Car period. He then tried to challenge Valtteri Bottas for the lead.

“At the restart I tried to put the pressure onto Valtteri,” Verstappen explained, “but in the end, I think we just lacked a little bit of pace overall so Lewis got by again.”

The Red Bull driver reported problems with his car during the race, saying he couldn’t use third gear and seeming to suffer battery problems in the hybrid system.

However, he felt that the main gap between Red Bull and Mercedes had been in terms of understanding how best to use tyres around Algarve International Circuit’s tricky surface. “This is, in general, a bit of an odd weekend in terms of grip,” he said. “We were not, I think, on top of it here. But we’ll see what we can do in Barcelona.”

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2021 Portuguese Grand Prix

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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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38 comments on “Red Bull urge consistency as track limits calls frustrate Verstappen and Perez”

  1. Should just be white lines and around the entire circuit. It shouldn’t be this corner or that corner within the red or the green or the kerb, it should be within the white lines and everywhere

    1. Hear hear. I don’t know why they choose to make it needlessly complicated and confusing.

    2. I agree.. simply follow basic track and white lines or put gravel traps.. these cars are breaking records as they are now a days allow to go off to carry momentum..
      Otherwise choose oval circuit.. no need to worry about limits

      1. TBF going off circuit to carry momentum is not a new thing. Austria in 2003 was much worse than anything we’ve seen this year

        1. But I agree. Make the Track Limits consistent everywhere

    3. @broke1984 I’ve said this so many times!

      It’s madness. Just demand that one tyre is inside the lines at all times. If they leave and gain any advantage, warn them or penalise them. Depending on the scenario.

      Just bizarre that they opt to continue with inconsistency.

  2. As it says in the article, they issued the guidance on turn 14 so Max should know that. He needs to pipe down.

    However, the Perez Norris thing was frustrating. In days past Charlie would have been on to McLaren to Tell them to relinquish the position. It’s just yet another case of race control not being up to scratch unfortunately, as Horner insinuates.

    1. they issued the guidance on turn 14

      This is a bit of a weird situation. The Race Director’s Event Notes Issue 3, available here clearly specify that lap will be deleted in the race or practice sessions (including Quali) for running wide at T1, T4, or T15. However, they have not explicitly stated that the same will apply when they added the definitions for T5 or T14. Therefore, RB’s complaint may have some standing.

      Was it the right decision? Probably.

      What is the solution? Well there’s 2:
      1. Stop changing the track limit definitions during the weekend.
      2. Use the white lines as the track limits. Radical I know.

      Reply moderated
    2. Yeah, I was also kind of expecting that call to come any minute during the race @john-h. With Verstappen, I saw that it would be deleted live when he set that lap, it was clear he went to wide at T14. RB should have seen that as well and told Max that it might be deleted instead of acting suprprised.

  3. in MotoGP on last lap going off the track is a strict no go and riders are instantly penalised 1 place irrespective of normal track limits being enforced at certain places.

  4. If they issued the instruction before lights out, then it’s fair game.
    Also, totally different from his “pole” lap yesterday. He did gained advantage from going off this time.
    Though, this whole thing is so annoying. I say, let them race in the gravel if they must. As long as there is racing. The grip is on track most of the time, it’s not like they’re gonna cross rally.

    1. did gain*
      oh, I cherish the dream of an edit button. :o)

      1. There’s been thousands of comments by now where an edit button would’ve been useful on this site.

  5. Just make it like every other sport that use use white lines to mark out the pitch/court etc. The white line means the edge of the track, crossover it with all 4 wheels and it’s “OUT” just like every other damn sport.

    It really isn’t that hard. It really is ruining things and then also feeds endless arguments for the next week on social media

    Can you imagine a tennis umpire saying, “yes, it was outside the line, but no advantage was made as he still hit the ball back ok….and yes, I know you’ve done it 29 times and I’ve allowed it, but try not to do it anymore!”

    1. yes, it was outside the line, but no advantage was made as he still hit the ball back ok

      This made me chuckle :)

      Indeed, white lines should be the limit, the kerbs are for drivers to put their outside wheels and get some additional advantage, not their inside wheels.

    2. The problem is this is impossible to enforce in motorsport. When the car goes off there isn’t a brief recess like other sports. Also, no driver is that precise so that lines won’t be crossed ever. There are too many variables beyond driver’s control, take the winds for instance.

      IMO it’s too much meddling with the inevitable.

      1. Think it was Paul Di Resta that I heard today suggest that if 4 wheels go over the white lines, the ECU drops power for 1 or 2 secs automatically. Which I though was a great idea.

        Install sensors on every corner, the technology is already available to do this, all teams use a standard ECU already so adding a wireless sensor to the car that detects if it goes off track surely wouldn’t be that difficult.

        Will never happen of course, but thought it was a great idea.

        1. I think lining sensors across an entire track will be very costly as it will roughly 50-100 metres of sensors needed per corner which would be almost 1km across a track.

          It is cheaper to do this in cricket (at the creases) or tennis where the white lines don’t add up to so much of distance.

          1. Chris Horton
            2nd May 2021, 19:44

            Couldn’t this be done with a geofence rather than physical sensors?

        2. I think reducing power is a very dangerous precedent here. Having cars suddenly slow down, or approach at vastly different speeds, is not a good idea imo. Mugello 2020, Imola this year and arguably Kimi/Gio today proves that.

        3. SteveM – Seems interesting but ultimately I don’t know if it’d be wise. I actually liked @fer-no65 ‘s idea about DRS. But honestly, IMHO, it is easier and more rewarding to let it go, obviously after re-profiling runoffs accordingly.

      2. @niefer I disagree with “Also, no driver is that precise so that lines won’t be crossed ever”.

        I forgot to add this to my comment above but these guys are absolutely capable of threading the cars between the lines for hours on end. They get it wrong only when they CHOOSE to push too hard (usually for moves that aren’t there) or when they CHOOSE to push the envelope because they know they won’t get punished.

        It’s like saying they can’t get down to 80 in the pitlane every time so don’t penalise them there. They KNOW they’ll get a penalty, so they make 80 (probably close to bang on 80) almost every time. They’d do much “better” with the white lines if the rules were clear and enforced. I’d bet.

        1. @gongtong – if there was speed limit on track, I’d agree with you, but in order to lap faster and faster, boundaries must be challenged and track limits are just one amongst many.

          After all, if they were that precise, lap times wouldn’t vary.

  6. The event notes never mentioned T14 as a target corner for ‘lap time invalidation’ at any point, merely a general note about the limit reference, so I understand why Max felt odd. The FIA made an individual exception for him and Gasly (QLF), one each like they made individual exceptions for some drivers in Abu Dhabi at the penultimate corner.
    I agree with Horner about consistency.
    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.
    Lando went wide at T4 while behind but only overtook into the next corner. One can ponder whether he gained a speed advantage, helping him to get side-by-side.

    1. You mean, like barge boards that everyone complained about last year?

  7. Track limits. Even as a fan it is confusing – how do we know which limits will incur a penalty?

    Either:

    A) enforce all track limits with a penalty.
    B) enforce none
    C) install tech to cut engine power automatically immediately limits are crossed
    D) paint the parts of the track that are off limits a different colour – or make the curbs a different colour.

    It’s not hard – but as it stands the way they are enforced is confusing and inconsistent.

    1. BTW the tracks managed by Jonathan Palmer have this tech already !

  8. The fundamental problem with track limits is the fact that it is faster to go off-track than staying on it…as the two deleted laps for Verstappen prove. It’s not like the drivers in the past always stayed within the white lines, but the difference is that they would encounter bumpy grass or gravel when going wide…and inevitably lose time. And that was that.

  9. At every race track limits are an issue. At what point is the FIA going to say enough is enough, the track limits are the white line and if you exceed the track limits you will be penalized 10 seconds and 5 grid positions at the next race. Draconian yes, but with a stiff penalty we won’t see drivers casually exceeding track limits.

    1. I can understand that viewpoint, but your last sentence is important:

      we won’t see drivers casually exceeding track limits.

      What then happens if it clearly isn’t intentional? Take (for example) Max in Q3. He didn’t choose to get a large slide due to a large gust of wind, and it probably cost him more time than he gained by going 5cm wide (although deleting the lap was the best decision). Ok that might not be the best example, but with the speed of these cars now there is now way that a driver will keep it in track limits 100% of the time in every race. What happens if you spin off the track, lose loads of time, and then get a penalty? If the spin enough of a penalty, you still have to introduce a human element of judgement as to where the loss of time is.

      I can completely understand where you are coming from, but I think in terms of penalising, the current 3 strikes, black and white flag, then penalties is the best system in that terms. Invalidating lap times is a separate matter though

      1. Coventry Climax
        2nd May 2021, 23:08

        How hard can it be, for a consistent race-control? When you’ve exceeded tracklimits, but lost time, no penalty. When you’ve exceeded the limits and gained time; penalty.
        You, @RandomMallard, seem to be inventing excuses to not enforce a simple, straightforward, understandable, consistent, clear and ‘same for everyone’ logical rule.

        1. My question is what counts as lost time? Somewhere there has to be a line. Do you have to spin 180 degrees around the track? Or is there a certain amount of time that needs to be lost?

          I think that while Max probably did gain from running wide at T14 on Sunday, I don’t think he would have gained time from running about 5cm wide at T4 on Saturday, having only gone wide as a result of a tank slapper that almost certainly slowed him down.

          I’m definitely in favour of consistent and straightforward track limits, I just don’t think there is necessarily a simple solution because while the best thing would be a ‘one rule for all approach’, the problem is different infringements have different reasons and different outcomes

          1. Following on from this, I definitely feel like invalidating both of Max’s laps, on Saturday and Sunday was the right call. But I can understand RB’s frustration at Max’s lap on Sat being invalidated for running wide at T4, but Lando not having to hand back the place to Perez after he ran wide at T4 on Sunday, gaining what appeared ti be an advantage to attack Perez into T5

  10. Norris gets a speed advantage by going wide which enables him to pass Perez – no problem.

    Verstappen gets a speed advantage by going wide which enables him to score fastest lap – clamp down on it.

    At this point the stewards are worse than worthless. They are the biggest liability to F1.

  11. This is such a tedious discussion every single weekend. I don’t blame the drivers for using every bit of road possible to gain laptime, that’s the essence of driving fast. Plus, if kicking up dust and going a bit on the grass was faster in the older days, they’d have done it. So that’s not the point.

    But if there was a consistent rulling every single weekend, not track or corner specific, but EVERYWHERE, it’d be fine. We’d not go “no, he was okay because he exceeded the track limits on turn 7, not on turn 8 where it’s not allowed”. Even during the weekend they make changes, knowing already what the layout is… this track didn’t change at all since last year, a quick look at the onboard pole lap of last year would give you pointers where the problem was. But still, it’s changing during the weekend…

    They need to get this sorted. Maybe make DRS unavailable to them the next time they get the right to use it, for every track limit offence. Or somethign in that order… but it needs to be the same limit everywhere, at every single corner of the calendar.

  12. Either police them or not, this is silly.

  13. I’m honestly sick of this being a talking point every weekend. This should not be so complicated. There are white lines on every track that make the edge. The cars have to keep at least 2 wheels inside the track at all times. That’s the rule. If you go outside of that, you’re subject to a penalty. Sure they can let you off the hook if it wasn’t intentional and you lost time by going off anyways and maybe sometimes drivers will get away with it and it makes sense to focus on areas where drivers would be tempted to go wide (T1, T14, T15) this weekend, but that doesn’t (or shouldn’t) mean the rule doesn’t apply everywhere else too.

  14. Davethechicken
    3rd May 2021, 7:27

    The debate here is silly.
    The rules are in black and white.
    It is 100% the drivers and teams responsibility to read them.
    If they don’t know the rule they are “insert your choice of Verstappen team radio”

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