Losail track limits rules overhauled after first session

2021 Qatar Grand Prix

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The track limit rules for this weekend’s Qatar Grand Prix were rewritten after the first hour of running at the Losail International Circuit, which is hosting its first Formula 1 race weekend.

The track, which was designed for Moto GP bike racing, is largely bordered by low kerbs and asphalt run-off. Drivers were originally told five of the 16 corners on the 5.3-kilometre course would be monitored to ensure they were not running excessively wide.

However during the first practice session drivers were able to run wide of the kerbs at many points on the track. FIA F1 race director Michael Masi indicated was considering a review of the track limits arrangements in a conversation between him and Red Bull sporting director Jonathan Wheatley.

“What are you doing with track limits at the minute?” Wheatley asked. “Just taking a view, letting people find their feet,” Masi explained.

Following the session revised instructions to the drivers were issued in which references to the five specific corners – turns four, 12, 13, 14 and 16 – were removed. Instead drivers have now been told they must not stray beyond the kerbs at the exit of any corner.

“The track limit on the exit of each corner at this track is defined as when no part of a car remains in contact with the purple and white kerb,” the updated race director’s note reads.

“For the avoidance of doubt, drivers will be judged to have left the track on the exit of a corner if no part of the car remains in contact with the purple and white kerb.”

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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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22 comments on “Losail track limits rules overhauled after first session”

  1. This is great news, finally full course track limits. This should be fun to watch.

    1. Are you serious? If so I’d say “be careful what you wish for”.

      I really can’t understand this opinion (that has taken hold of Brundle and others) that wants MORE steward activity. More arbitrary time penalties being handed out to drivers. More race results being decided after the chequered flag.

      There seems to be a certain machismo behind it, “they’re the best drivers in the world, they should be able to keep the car on track” etc, but all you’re doing is making the sport utterly tedious.

      How about this idea? Provided they’re not cutting any corners, leave the drivers free to navigate the circuit as they wish?

      If a race circuit is designed in a way that the fastest way around it is by running off track then that it a failure of track design.

      1. @MelesMeles I concur.

      2. @MelesMeles as a society we draw lines between what is acceptable and what isn’t, no matter if it is racing or trading investments. When those rules are not applied equally, people seek reassurance of the rules. In this case, a clear black and white line has been drawn which I think is good for the sport. Every track has an edge, keep the car inside the edge no matter if there is a large run off area or grass. Force someone off the track, that is a penalty. No more gray areas for stewards to apply rules in an unequal manner.

        For the record, I love Indy car approach to let them race because they apply the rules in a very equal manner. This makes Indy car fun to watch. F1 could fix their issue by naming one steward that serves for a full season, who is the voice of consistency. Current method is broken, so tighter rules are a good fix.

      3. Absolute nonsense.

        “The track” goes where the white lines are. That IS the track. Any area outside the lines is not the track.
        If drivers are leaving “the track” without a justifiable reason, they are breaking the rules.

        Consistent enforcement wouldn’t lead to more stewards intervention for very long, as the penalties would provide sufficient deterrent against future breaches.

        This is literally the simplest part of any sport, and F1 continually completely stuffs it up in the most spectacular way possible.

  2. Red Bull asking for an investigation into track limits is humorous.

    1. 5 meters wide of the outside of a corner is legal in a redbull , all 4 wheels inside track limits for everyone else

      1. that is more like 5 car lengths for Max, 1-3 car lengths for other RedBul group, and an inch inside the white lines for everyone else.!

  3. Oh Michael…

    The kerb is not the track!

    The track is delineated by the white line.

    Why is so much time being wasted on defining track limits when they are already defined? If you fully cross the white line and gain an advantage you should be penalised, it’s really simple.

    Maybe we just need a VAR/ Hawkeye solution?

  4. Did they just finally define a track?
    That’s got to be a first!

  5. Wow, same rules for every corner. So simple, so elegant, so un-F1

  6. “For the avoidance of doubt, drivers will be judged to have left the track on the exit of a corner if no part of the car remains in contact with the purple and white kerb.”…Except Car33 which can do what the hell it wants..

    1. and if it is car 33 specifically, we wont review it even if the Armageddon day is arriving! there is noone who can force us to review any action by car 33

  7. Changed again during the weekend, and not to using the white lines everywhere.
    What an embarrassment. Absolutely disgraceful.

    Why can’t they just do what Article 27.3 says?

  8. Max can now push people six car lengths wide isntead of four now! And it all remains acceptable! Encouraged in fact!

  9. Unless I am very much mistaken (and I am very much mistaken) was it three strikes and then a black flag at a certain corner or was it overall? If overall I can see there potentially being a lot of of penalties during the race perhaps.

    However, running wide here looks like its hurting the cars and/or the sand trapped in the astro turf makes it look like there is a physical detriment for trying to stay within the limits. Although the white line is the limit not the kerb. But that is another debate for another thread.

    1. 2 strikes, and 3rd black if i m not mistaken. or B/W, unless your car is numbered 33, you have unlimited tries to go as wide as track walls allow it.

  10. Given this, I can only say one thing: LOL

  11. I refuse to beleive that with all the scientific knowledge F1 has, that we don’t have the ability to produce a surface outside of track limits that is safe but punishes those who go off the track by making them slower. If it is impossible to do that then I know tecnology exists which can detect cars going off-track – and automatically apply an appropriate time penalty. Regarding the ‘forcing another car offtrack’, I agree that consistent stewarding is required, and perhaps that should mean a team of stewards that police the whole season rather than odds and sods. In addition to that there should be a method of removing stewards who are unfit for purpose and the same for the race director. All decisions should be clear and transparent and provably non-biased. If there is good reason to believe a decision is wrong or biased, then there should be a court of appeal which does not require new evidence, but can review the evidence that was used, as well as any new evidence that may be supplied.

    1. the tech exist, however, depending on the car no you are driving, it may not be available for a review at all! and there is nothing you can do about it

  12. “What are you doing with track limits at the minute?” Red Bull sporting director Jonathan Wheatley asked.

    “How wide do you recon Max will want to go off the track this weekend?” Supposed Race Director Masi responded.

  13. So by the time we get to racing, no track limits will be enforced, except for maybe Nikita Mazepin and Yuki Tsunoda who seem to be the only ones that they enforce this sort of thing on.

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