FIA Formula 1 race director Niels Wittich has informed drivers of simpler rules on track limits for this weekend’s Bahrain Grand Prix.
The two experienced race directors have been appointed to replace former race director Michael Masi, who was relieved from his Formula 1 duties by the FIA after three seasons in the role following an investigation into the finish of the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.
The track limits arrangement at last year’s Bahrain Grand Prix proved a source of confusion. Drivers were told their lap times would be deleted if they ran wide at turn four during qualifying but the standard would not be applied for the race.
During the grand prix both Mercedes drivers were given warnings after running beyond the kerb on the exit of the corner multiple times in the race. Max Verstappen later ran wide across the white line at the corner while passing Lewis Hamilton for the lead, and relinquished the place to avoid being given a penalty.
A clearer line has been drawn over track limits in the first instruction from the new race director to drivers. Last year’s three paragraphs of guidance on track limits have been replaced with a single instruction from Wittich which states: “In accordance with the provisions of Article 33.3, the white lines define the track edges.”
Article 33.3 of the Formula 1 Sporting Regulations compels drivers to “make every reasonable effort to use the track at all times and may not leave the track without a justifiable reason.”
The article further adds 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.”
Wittich has over eight years of experience as a race director for FIA-sanctioned series, most notably the German touring car championship the DTM. He had worked previously within Formula 1 race control at a handful of races last season in preparation for a new role within the sport.
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