Max Verstappen, Red Bull, Circuit de Catalunya, 2021

Verstappen: Nothing more I can do to ensure I obey track limits

2021 Spanish Grand Prix

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Max Verstappen says there isn’t much more he can do to ensure he obeys track limits, after an error on the final lap of the Portuguese Grand Prix cost him a championship point.

Following the last race the Red Bull driver said it was “odd” he lost the bonus point for fastest lap because his time had been deleted for running wide at turn 14. Drivers were advised on the Saturday before the race of the change in how track limits were being enforced. This was the second alteration to the guidance during the weekend.

Verstappen has appeared unaware of a mid-weekend change in the enforcement of track limits on two occasions this year. During the Bahrain Grand Prix he expressed surprise on his team radio over the easing of restrictions at turn four, which Lewis Hamilton consistently exploited. He later overtook Hamilton by running off-track at the corner, and had to cede the position, costing him victory.

But Verstappen doubts there is much more he can do to improve his adherence to track limits. “I don’t think there is anything to be done to be on top of it,” he said. “In Bahrain there was some misunderstandings between teams on what was allowed and what wasn’t.

“You can also see it differently. I’m just trying to get everything out of the car when we are not on the same level of Mercedes.

Feature: Has Verstappen done his homework? Six Spanish GP talking points
“But I [could] also easily just be not in that topic of using track limits or whatever. But then I [would be] quite comfortably behind a Mercedes which I don’t like. I always try to get the best possible result out of it.”

During the Portuguese Grand Prix weekend, Verstappen also infringed track limits in qualifying.

“I went twice basically outside of the track limits where it cost me basically a pole and a fastest lap. But it’s also because I don’t settle for second or third.”

Track limits have been a focus of discussion in all three race weekends so far this year. Verstappen acknowledged that enforcing the restrictions is harder at some circuits than others, particularly when F1 visits tracks which are also used for bike racing.

“Some tracks are just a bit more difficult to police, really, with track limits,” he said. “I think we do need to find a solution.

“Of course I do understand some tracks we race with Moto GP and of course they want a bit different kerbs to what we like.

“But I think we need to find a middle way which works for both because with our cornering speeds basically we can really abuse the whole track because of the grip we have with the cars which makes it really difficult sometimes to really judge proper track limits.”

Physical deterrents to stop drivers running wide such as gravel traps should be used wherever possible, Verstappen believes.

“From my side I think we should try and put a bit more gravel back in places,” he said. “Of course that’s sometimes not what tracks want because when you have track days, people go off, the gravel comes onto the track, they need to clean it, it all costs money to put it back in place.

“But I think it’s just sometimes a bit confusing also from the outside where some places you run onto a kerb, some places are policed with a white line. I think we can make it a lot better by making sure that there is a hard limit when you go off a kerb or whatever.”

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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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41 comments on “Verstappen: Nothing more I can do to ensure I obey track limits”

  1. Looks like Jesus is drawing track limits.

  2. (Un)forced errors, that Verstappen has to try and minimize at all costs, while trying to defeat Hamilton.
    This is the first time he will be able to identify whether he is up to the job and can identify his own weaknesses.
    It has got all the ingredients for an interesting season!

    Reply moderated
  3. You can try and stay within them, for one. This is something the team needs to pick up on, especially now it has cost them championship points. No doubt about it that the rules surrounding track limits are extremely complicated and subject to change throughout each weekend and even throughout a session. This is something that has to be fixed too, but while it’s not (and knowing FIA, this might take a while) the team needs to be on top of it and remind their driver of the current limits because Verstappen obviously can’t do it without that help. The team needs to watch their rivals like a hawk and report immediately when the Mercedes cars aren’t respecting the limits.

  4. “I think we can make it a lot better by making sure that there is a hard limit when you go off a kerb or whatever.”

    I think that about nails the best — and easiest — solution that is feasible at the moment. Defining track limit violations as getting all wheels off a red-and-white kerb — the way MotoGP does it — is a more satisfying limit for everyone involved than a painted white line on the inside of the kerbs. It gives the drivers something tactile to aim for and feel inside the car. It matches what we spectators visually expect cars to do nowadays — to aggressively take the kerbs. And in a lot of cases, with the current configurations of many corners, it’s a self-policing track limit because there are other deterrents just outside the red-and-white kerbs — like green diamond kerbs or sausage kerbs — that are slower, anyway.

  5. Those track limits are all the same for everyone but Max just doesn’t like not being as fast as the Mercs so… they should just not enforce them? Then the Mercs will have the same advantage and he still won’t be faster. Or what, the FIA should just let enforce them for Mercedes? You can see in the quotes that he sort of realizes that what he’s saying is kind of silly.

    ““I went twice basically outside of the track limits where it cost me basically a pole and a fastest lap. But it’s also because I don’t settle for second or third.”

    And you lost pole and the fastest lap, so what did you prove?

    I love Max and he’s matured a lot but sometimes…

    1. Not to mention a race win in Bahrain.

    2. He was talking about Mercedes expoliting those corner to win time and that it should be fixed with hard things like cerbs, gravel IF RC isn’t enforce all limits.

    3. Seems to me like he is saying that he is really going to (and sometimes over) the limit since he doesnt want to come up 2nd or 3rd. In that last millimeter extraction of everything in the car you sometimes can go just a bit wide. It just happened twice, but both were costly. That’s the risk he is taking. He is not arguing he went over. And to your first point; no he doesn’t want favouritism, just simplicity/clarity for all. He is not the only driver to debate this topic.

  6. ian dearing
    6th May 2021, 19:25

    Maybe get your team boss to keep his mouth shut about track limits when you are making time on the car in front where it might be of benefit to you to take liberties when you finally catch the guy?

    1. you mean the 29x track limits a .2sec Lewis collected in Bahrein

      1. Hamilton did nothing wrong. Get over it.

        Maybe if Verstappen stayed awake in the briefings and read the notes, he’d have a better idea how to keep to track limits?

        1. It’s the excessive tribalism at the heart of his argument, where only those who have committed the sin of beating his favourite are in the wrong.

          Never mind that both Leclerc and Norris both said that the pre-race briefing permitted that line, or that Max himself was also using that line once the team told him to.

          He doesn’t want justice, he wants Max to be given the special treatment he thinks should be given to him simply because of whom he is.

  7. The physical deterrent of choice at (slow-speed) corner exits wouldn’t necessarily have to be gravel, but for example, the surface material used in Bahrain (T10, 12, 13, 14 + shortly after the T4 exit). That works well, so perhaps the most ideal or effective option.

  8. But I [could] also easily just be not in that topic of using track limits or whatever. But then I [would be] quite comfortably behind a Mercedes which I don’t like. I always try to get the best possible result out of it.

    First, in terms of qualifying, Red Bull seem to be a touch faster. So staying within track limits is advised. Second, he was faster in Bahrain, only he was impatient trying to overtake outside the track limits, and then in Portimão he passed Bottas’s Mercedes just fine. So his issue there seems to be with the specific driver of the Mercedes he’s behind. Third, I’m trying to work out what he’s telling us: it seems to be an admission that he knew the qualification and race guidelines on track limits in all these cases but tried his luck with the stewards. The weird thing is, of course, that had he gone over the track limits as Hamilton had done in Bahrain, he’d probably have caught him a lot earlier in the race. So actually it’s the other way round: Hamilton was the one pushing the boundaries to keep up and Verstappen missed a chance to exploit the track to the full.

  9. Risking more to keep up? Seems far fetched now that it’s established by RaceFans he has had the fastest car in all events so far. It would be more natural to see the Mercedes drivers pushing the limits and Verstappen playing more safe, so I guess it just demonstrates he’s just not on their level.

    1. Really? Fastest car? Really? I thought by now we would be on to Liberty and their media outlets. #factcheck

  10. Anon A. Mouse
    6th May 2021, 20:32

    Well, there are a pair of white lines that flank the track. Keeping the wheels between them would go a long way towards that end.

    1. you do not have to keep all wheels between them.
      one of the many interpretations you missed.

      1. He didn’t say “all of them”. Verstappen thinks it’s “none of them”, Lol.

    2. In fact the revised notes for Saturday morning actually made it even easier for Verstappen since those state that for turn 14 the kerbs are also seen as part of the track. So he didn’t even need to keep it between the lines. He only had to touch the red/white blocks with one of his wheels.

  11. I do not settle for second or third.
    Therefor, I will continue to do the actions that made me second or third.

    The mind of an athlete can be mystifying at times.

    1. As in all walks of life, some athletes are not as smart as others.

  12. Of there were walls around the track would he be saying there’s nothing more he can do to avoid the walls?

    Of course not. It’s 100% a psychological issue.

    1. Go outside track limits at Monaco and your race is over.

      1. Well, he certainly had his share of that ;-)

  13. Two words: White Lines. It really need be no more complicated than that.

    1. I hate to use a football comparison but if (as football) we say that all of the car has crossed all of the line (anywhere around the circuit) then the car is ‘out of play’ and not eligible to gain a position or gain a time advantage in doing so. That is as complicated as it needs to be. Black and white.

  14. The heck Max? It’s the same for everyone. Drive smarter.

  15. He is to blame but won’t admit that this year.

  16. What a f u c k i n g t o s s e r Verstappen is.

  17. Verstappen has appeared unaware of a mid-weekend change in the enforcement of track limits

    How does that even make sense? He was already alerted to the fact that turn 14 was being monitored for track limits when his pole time was deleted in Q3.

    He might not have been aware during Q3 since the amended directors notes actually did not state that they would remove lap times for the supposedly “added” turn 5 and 14. But after Q3 he should have most certainly known.

    1. @f1osaurus Verstappen’s Q3 time was deleted for running wide at T4.

      1. @scbriml Ah indeed. It was Gasly’s Q3 time that was deleted for turn 14. That makes slightly more more sense for Verstappen not to know then.

  18. I am glad Racefans got exactly what they aimed for with this article. Congratulations

  19. The rules should be 100% transparent and should not change during the weekend. Then they should be policed consistently or the track needs to penalize abuse. Gaining time is also a lasting benefit so it should be punished even when not in battle, setting the fastest lap in the race or in qualifying. Make it simple and transparent. And I know Max would stay within the limits.
    BS like in Bahrain is killing fair competition one rule for everyone at all times. That’s basically what Max wants too, although his lines leave too much room for (wrong) interpretation, as a lot of the people here seem to do.

    1. The thing is that the stewards saw people abuse track limits in unexpected places on Friday. What should they do then? Just ignore it? Then why not just ignore for all corners to begin with (which would have my vote actually)?

      It’s not killing fair competition though. They all can do the same thing. Plus Verstappen was going off track in Bahrain in turn 11 almost every lap too where instead Hamilton was keeping it on track.

  20. All Max is saying is he’s got to go for it, mainly speaking for when he is not leading. He’s not going wide on purpose and hoping the stewards let it go on whatever corner it is. If he goes wide it is because he’s not settling for second or third, but rather is pushing hard, but of course he and the team have talked about at some point ensuring he gets a good points haul too. Going wide for pole was him just going for it, just as for the fastest lap point, but he’s not going to stop going for it, is all he means when he says there’s not much more he can do differently. Easy to say from one’s armchair just stay within the lines then, but then to him that means not going for it. I’m sure his intention is always to maximize everything and stay legal as well. And we all have seen what an inconsistent mess ‘staying legal’ has been so far this season.

    1. He can still ‘go for it’ while staying on the track.
      What he actually means is “I pushed too hard and stuffed up.”

    2. 100% agree here.

      These guys are pushing hard all the time. The tolerances between keeping within or exceeding the track limits at the speed and g-forces they are undergoing are minute. Sometimes they go over, sometimes they don’t. Sometimes it gets called out. Sometimes it doesn’t. We have NO idea what it’s like driving a machine like that under those conditions so to comment on “he could to this” or “he could do that” or “he chooses this vs that” are all pointless really. It’s all about the fine fine line needed to extract the maximum out of a package and track that change and evolve ever single lap. Blows me away that these guys can do it the way that they can. Superhuman indeed.

      Physical barriers remove the need for any subjectivity – you glance off a wall, you clearly exceeded the limit. However physical barriers are not possible everywhere – nor desirable. You don’t want walls on the outside of 130R do you? And all of the comments regarding the multi-use nature of tracks are fair too – MotoGP can’t have the same solutions that would work for F1 (like gravel everywhere). To me this whole thing goes away if they just make the rule the same everywhere, for every corner. The track is defined by the two white lines on either side, regardless of kerbs or whatever. Two wheels over the white line and you get penalized somehow. I like the three strikes and then you get a time penalty myself, unless you gain a position, in which case the penalty of giving the place back needs to be immediately applied.

      Just apply the rules to the two white lines consistently. It may take a few races for drivers to rein it in, but it will be equal for everyone, and clear for all of us watching.

      Reply moderated
  21. To this day, he’ll probably won’t win a season opener until he speaks out about the insult.

  22. When there is gravel instead of run off area tarmac, he will surely mamage to stay within
    So it is a mental issue.

    Still i would prefer gravel in these corners, makes it more clear who runs wide and prevents discussion on who went wide and got punished and who did not

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