Paul Ricard, 2022

Change circuits and “flat as a pancake” kerbs to solve track limits rows – Russell

2022 French Grand Prix

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George Russell says Formula 1 needs to make changes to circuits to solve the ongoing rows over drivers abusing track limits.

F1’s race direction team has imposed new, stricter enforcement of track limits this year. At the last race in Austria almost the entire grid fell foul of them at least once.

A total of 90 track limits infringements were recorded during the three competitive sessions at the Red Bull Ring, leading to 127 lap times being deleted. Four drivers collected five-second time penalties during the grand prix for repeatedly exceeding track limits.

Russell said he sympathises with the challenge faced by F1’s two race directors Niels Wittich and Eduardo Freitas, the latter of which is responsible for the running of this weekend’s French Grand Prix. He believes F1 tracks need to make it less advantageous for drivers to run wide.

“It’s a very difficult job that the race director has,” said Russell. “Ultimately the race director’s job is to police the rules.

“Now, are the rules and regulations correct for these current spec of cars? Ultimately everything has to evolve.

“For me you’ve got to go to the root cause of the problem and the root cause is the circuits. You can’t have drivers just running wild and doing what they want. But when you go to Austria and those kerbs are as flat as a pancake and you’ve got to judge a white line when the car is rolled and loaded, you can’t feel a white line.”

Sebastian Vettel, 1922 Aston Martin 'Green Pea', Paul Ricard, 2022
Gallery: 2022 French Grand Prix build-up in pictures
Several drivers have expressed concerns that track limits will present a problem again this weekend, as the Paul Ricard is almost entirely bordered by flat kerbs and asphalt run-offs which drivers can use without losing time.

“It’s going to be another difficult race weekend,” Russell predicted. “As long as we’re all on the same page there’s no issue. But I think we’re just working collectively at the moment to try to get us to that one page, whereas, we’re not there at the moment.”

Freitas has given drivers their now-familiar reminder in the pre-race event notes that the white lines around the edge of the circuit will define the track limits. At three areas of the circuits – turns one to two, three to five and eight to nine – drivers must rejoin the track via designated routes if they run wide, as has been the case in previous races at Paul Ricard.

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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...
Claire Cottingham
Claire has worked in motorsport for much of her career, covering a broad mix of championships including Formula One, Formula E, the BTCC, British...

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16 comments on “Change circuits and “flat as a pancake” kerbs to solve track limits rows – Russell”


    I wish more drivers would keep re-iterating this.

    1. It is common sense but somehow nothing is done about it. F1 gave up on astroturf and since then it seems they have forgot why astroturf was a thing. normal tracks do not have problems with track limits because after the kerb there is grass and gravel.

  2. I get his sentiment but the reality is these tracks don’t solely exists as tracks to serve F1. They’re used for many categories including bikes and the track changes that would be good for F1 would injure riders.

    You can implement one off changes each year – they set up Street circuits every year so it’s possible to modify some corners as a one off and I’m guessing this is done already? I’m particularly thinking of sausage curbs being bolted on for F1 weekends but they’re an ugly solution. I don’t see sausage curbs on every corner as the right answer.

  3. I’ve always felt that the problem isn’t so much the kerbs or even the use of tarmac runoff but more what is directly behind the kerbs.

    If the kerbs are flat & then you have tarmac directly behind them like you have at Turns 9/10 in Austria & everywhere around Paul Ricard then you start seeing issues with track limits partly because drivers will always want to push the boundaries but also because as George says it can be difficult to judge in some situations.

    If you go around to Turn 4 where you have a similar flat kerb with grass/gravel right behind it then you don’t have an issue because drivers have a better view of where to place the car with that bit of extra feedback through the wheel if you start to touch the grass or gravel.

    That’s all you need. A kerb no wider than the 2m width of the cars with a 2m strip of grass behind it. Then you have can tarmac or gravel behind that to make up the actual runoff. That setups not only acts as a better deterrent as you should lose grip if you go onto the grass but also gives that bit of extra feedback to help drivers feel when they are going a bit too wide off the back of the kerb.

    And in terms of the ideal type of kerbing. I’ve always liked the style of double kerbing they use at Bahrain. You rarely see drivers running off those because the design sort of pulls the car out wider if they go too far over them. You see that a lot off the final corner at Bahrain. I think they also have a strip of astro-turf behind them.

  4. It almost seems like we are edging back to the old regime of policing curbs based on advantage. At the margins you have to say that if a car locks up or has a tank-slapper and goes off the track it’s silly to impose a penalty. Likewise if you cut the entire inside of a corner to make a pass that’s a foul. Everywhere in between you make a judgement. And the idea that this it’s like soccer or tennis just doesn’t work. In racing using up as much track as possible in the turns, every time, is basically the point. And in tennis if your shot is out you lose the point or lose service. There are no points or possession to lose in racing, and trying to calibrate a forfeiture of advantage by a one-size time penalty is incredibly crude, indirect, and will generate controversy.

    I think it turns out that a “strict” rule replaces the need to make judgements with occasional absurd results and confounding enforcement issues. As they say hard cases can make bad law.

  5. Surely given that there is a battery system on board, couldn’t you simply restrict battery usage in some way once you have gone outside the geo-tagged track. I am not sure you should be limiting fuel flow instead though.

    A example could be to only allow the hybrid system to deploy for a set percentage of power for the following lap making you vulnerable to people behind you but not be fundamentally unsafe through being too slow.

    Seems hugely overkill but surely this beats having to redesign circuits or kerbs. Drivers just can’t stop complaining about kerb design, too high and they risk destroying the car and too flat you can’t tell where the track is!

  6. I’m coming round to thinking that every corner should just have a marker on the inside apex, a sensor strip bolted into place. No penalties for running wide, but if any part of any of your tyres touches the sensor strip it is an automatic drive through penalty to taken immediately, i.e. no waiting three laps before you take the penalty, no taking a time penalty at the end of the race instead of serving the penalty, and if you hit two sensor strips on the same lap, that’s a five second stop go, hit three sensors in one lap, and it’s a 10 second stop go, hit more than three and they need to get a breathalyser out and check to see if you’ve been drinking.

  7. “But when you go to Austria and those kerbs are as flat as a pancake and you’ve got to judge a white line when the car is rolled and loaded, you can’t feel a white line.”

    You can’t feel it, but you can see it before you get to it. It’s what you are aiming for, so you obviously know where it is.
    Using the excuse “I didn’t want to compromise my speed just to stay on the track” is completely unacceptable and actually quite pathetic.

    Track limits will only be taken seriously and respected when the rules have been applied firmly and consistently for a while.
    The longer and more consistent, the more respect there will be.
    It’s only a problem now because they’ve been utterly terrible at enforcing the rules for so long.

  8. I’m a firm believer in self policing track limits, even if it makes it makes spins or riders falling slightly more likely. Once drivers and riders know what’s there they will drive/ride accordingly.

    Surely the brains in F1 can come up with a better solution. Can we make a hard wearing, generally flat surface that is very low grip? There must be a way. I like the exit kerbs at Road America, a ridged concrete surface which doesn’t launch cars, but doesn’t offer much grip. I’d go for flat concrete exit kerbs with a ‘pimpled’ surface. The drivers could also ‘feel’ these in answer to George’s comment.

    Sausage kerbs are the only answer for inside kerbs but I would fill in the back to stop cars approaching from behind being launched by them.

    My absolute favourite solution would be to have no kerbs, just long grass. Not practical I know, but we wouldn’t be having this debate!

    1. Andy (@andyfromsandy)
      22nd July 2022, 9:20

      It is a BS debate from some drivers who it would seem want some form of crutch to help them with bad corner positioning and entry speed.

    2. My absolute favourite solution would be to have no kerbs, just long grass. Not practical I know, but we wouldn’t be having this debate!

      Not really a debate to be had – most people want naturally enforced limits, however they simply aren’t always practical.
      Especially not when there are such a wide range of events that circuits need to cater for.

      Just as an example, a couple of years ago Silverstone had removed an old tarmac apron at the exit of Chapel leading up to the GP, planting grass there instead.
      After Friday practice (where dozens of cars had run wide and dug it out) they replaced it with tarmac overnight, for reasons of safety and practicality….

      1. The exit of Becketts, leading into Chapel….

        1. Like you say, not really a debate.

          But that was short grass on which the drivers could go without damaging their front wings. I said long grass which probably would. Then the driver would have to drive as if a wall was there, but a lot safer than wall.

          After a while the grass may become damaged to the point it is no longer a deterrent, but compared to your example, this would take much longer when the drivers know they must avoid it or risk damage.

          1. What sort of long grass are you thinking of? Bamboo…?

            Anything long or strong enough to provide a deterrent would also be a hazard. And when it broke away (after just one or two passes) it would chew out the ground under it.
            As in, the exact same reason most circuits don’t use grass at corner exits anymore…. The use, you know, kerbs.

  9. Every time this comes up, I make the same comment.

    Giant foam/inflatable blocks positioned at points where track limits are abused. Consequences in the rule book for hitting them, as well as potential car damage (but not to the extent that driver safety is compromised). You could possibly tether them so they can only move away from the track edge if hit.

    Drivers will instinctively try to avoid hitting them.

    Make them sponsor friendly.

  10. Andy (@andyfromsandy)
    22nd July 2022, 9:17

    The regulation is leaving the track without justifiable reason. There could be a reason if the car is crowded off at the corner. Having devices that turns off the power is not right for every situation.

    I think sausage kerbs have been attributed to some cars getting airborne so a danger in themselves.

    Now that drivers know there is zero tolerance they will have to find a way to judge where the front wheel is even if they cannot see it. They are the best, they will have to adapt or accept time penalties.

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