Alex Albon, Williams, Hungaroring, 2022

Drivers are treated “like we are amateurs” over track limits disputes – Verstappen

2022 Hungarian Grand Prix

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Max Verstappen says Formula 1’s race direction team are too reluctant to take the views of drivers on board after further complaints over track limits during qualifying for the Hungarian Grand Prix today.

The Red Bull driver was one of only four who had a lap time deleted in qualifying, and it didn’t affect his starting position. However his team mate Sergio Perez had one lap time deleted, and subsequently reinstated, after flirting with the white line which marks the edge of the track at turn 15.

F1’s race directors have imposed a strict and consistent definition of track limits this year and deleted any lap times where a driver has gone beyond the white line at the edge of corners. Verstappen acknowledged this had partly come about due to feedback from the drivers.

However he said further confusion over track limits arose during yesterday’s drivers briefing. “Drivers last year said we have to be more clear and strict on what we were going to chase in terms of track limits,” said Verstappen. “But, for example, last night they started talking about turn 13, the exit, the dotted line is the track edge.

“But there’s a kerb and a white line next to it, which for me personally is the track edge. You just have so many silly little things which make it more difficult for them to police.”

He believes some of the confusion over track limits could be lessened if the race directors were more willing to take drivers’ feedback on board.

“As drivers we always want to help and give our advice, but nothing is heard,” he said. “For me that’s extremely frustrating.

“I don’t want to fight with them, I want to just advise them, but it seems like they don’t really care and they actually, for my thing, they look at us a bit like we are amateurs. I don’t think that’s correct.”

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Verstappen said trying to enforce track limits by using cameras to judge whether a driver has crossed a line is less effective than relying on physical deterrents to impose boundaries.

“Most of the time when you look at onboard cameras, most of the time the camera’s on the wrong side. So the angle looks always like you’re off, but sometimes you’re not, you’re still on. So it’s very hard.

“I think we can do ourselves a favour by making it a lot easier by just adding a bit of gravel on the exits or whatever. Like Austria, for example, why do we need track limits in turn four, turn six? There’s naturally gravel and even if you go out by this much, you will penalise yourself if you just go wide. Even if you go a little wide you damage your floor anyway so your car is going slower.

“So they just make it super-hard for themselves. Of course people say just ‘stay within the white line’, but that’s easier said than done. But then again, what I said about this dotted line as well, it’s just so confusing everything.”

Perez was also involved in a confusing track limits decision in Austria where he took part in Q3 before the stewards realised the lap time which earned his progression from Q2 was achieved by violating track limits. They retroactively deleted all his times from that point, dropping him out of the top 10 on the grid.

“I just think that the system is not really up to it,” said Perez. “We have to review it and see how we can move better forwards to have some more consistency.”

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2022 Hungarian Grand Prix

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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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19 comments on “Drivers are treated “like we are amateurs” over track limits disputes – Verstappen”

  1. James (@laughingorc)
    30th July 2022, 18:10

    As Crofty and Brundle have frequently said on commentary, drivers don’t have any problems staying clear of track limits when there’s a wall, so the drivers are perfectly capable of staying within the white lines of the track when they want to.

    If they were to add a gravel trap on the outside of every corner it would completely mess things up at the track for the other series of racing that the track might hold. The rules are pretty clear this year for the first time in ages.

    1. James, yes, I can only agree with all of that. The penalty for hitting the wall is sufficient deterrent, which makes me feel that changing the current penalty to a five second stop go penalty would also be much more of a deterrent that a five second time penalty. It doesn’t wreck the car, but it sure would ruin the driver’s race, and I’ve no doubt they’d then learn very quickly to stay on track.

      I’m also coming to think that they should forget about policing the outside of corners, and just make that part of the track dusty or something, or have rumble strips etc to really discourage drivers from going to wide. Just police the insides. Effectively put a hi-tech pylon on each apex, and say the car has to go round the outside of that pylon. If it hits the pylon at all, it triggers an alert to race control and is an immediate and automatic stop go penalty with absolutely no grounds for appeal. So what if a car manages to cut a corner so much that it goes inside the pylon without hitting it at all. The driver will certainly know they’ve done that, so they should report into the pit they’ve done it and the pit should call them in for a stop go. If the stewards discover someone has cut the corner and not self-reported, the car needs to be black flagged because either the driver is deliberately cheating, or so blind to where he was on the circuit that he is a danger to others.

      But however it is done, let’s just make an immediate and automatic penalty with no possibility of mitigation. I am so sick of hearing drivers getting the lawyer on the phone to argue about who forced who off track. If there was a wall there, it wouldn’t matter. You’d be out of the race.

    2. They might say that but they’re wrong. Plenty of footage of cars brushing or tapping walls. Sometimes there is damage sometimes they get away with it. …like going ever so slightly wide and kicking up some dust from behind the kerb. Sometimes they’ll get away with it. Sometimes they’ll lose time or even spin

      1. Baasbas, well not entirely wrong. If a car goes half a car’s width over the white like, they are kicking up dust. If a car goes half a car’s width beyond a wall, it is going home on the flatbed.

    3. @laughingorc

      As Crofty and Brundle have frequently said on commentary, drivers don’t have any problems staying clear of track limits when there’s a wall, so the drivers are perfectly capable of staying within the white lines of the track when they want to.

      I have two issues with that from Crofty and Brundle. First, part of the reason that drivers are better able to avoid walls is visibility. It’s much easier to judge the distance between your tyre’s sidewall and a wall—both of which you can see from the car—than it is to judge whether your tyre’s contact patch is touching a part of a white line painted on the ground that has long since disappeared underneath your car.

      Second, to say, “If they can stay within a wall, they can stay within a line” doesn’t make much sense if the consequences of going over the track are less (as AlanD puts it) than going home on a flatbed. Drivers are naturally going to take more risks and absorb the weaker consequences—they wouldn’t be maximizing their potential if they weren’t, especially in qualifying when there’s no consequence except losing your lap. Even in a grand prix, three strikes and a 5-second penalty may well be faster overall than the time a driver would lose by giving a sufficient margin to avoid a weekend-ending crash every lap.

      I noticed that in the IndyCar race today, unusually for that series, they did police track limits in one corner (though perhaps not surprising given that it’s the only track designed for F1 cars on their calendar). I hate that it was necessary, but there are two things I liked about their implementation: It was enforced with a timing stripe—not relying on stewards to notice it visually against a white line. And the penalty was not a time penalty, but losing two positions. I really like this—that way, you can’t simply take the 5 seconds and rely on pulling a gap (or having an existing gap) to maintain position. You could have a 30 second lead on the field and lose it in an instant. And it also means an overtaking driver can’t simply escape penalty by giving up the lasting advantage and having another go—you would not only have to drop behind the car you passed, but you would also need to give up one more position. If F1 isn’t going to modify its tracks as Verstappen suggests, I wouldn’t mind seeing them adopt an approach like this.

      1. @markzastrow
        I tried to Google Indycar tracklimits info, but could not find anything? What is a timing stripe, how is it used? I like the two places back penalty, much more effective deterrent than a five second penalty.

      2. I think Brundle is much more knowledgeable on this than you are.

    4. +1
      Absolutely 100% Correct!

  2. To an extent, yes. Max is right that having gravel on exits would make themselves a favor.
    However, rather than gravel, grass, or something else, I again suggest placing Bahrain’s solution at all slow-speed corner exits, as that’s proved the most effective & safest solution for TL enforcement purposes over time.
    Doing this shouldn’t be too much to ask.

  3. Where is the confusion?

    All year the rule has been the same at every corner on every track. The white line is the edge of the track and that putting all 4 wheels over that white line results in lap time deletion and in races potentially a 5 second penalty after 3 strikes.

    It’s been clear and consistent.

    1. +1 and it is for the better.

    2. Which white line? The solid or the dotted one?

  4. JustSomeone
    30th July 2022, 19:16

    Don’t worry, it’s Max, he only wants things the way he wants it to be. Anything else is someone else’s fault. (e.g. sausage kerb in Austria a long time ago)

  5. Jere, not sure what the “Bahrain solution” is. Was that raised kerbing or something?

    1. It’s the type of kerbing they use there. It’s a sort of double kerb, You have the initial raised section but then a 2nd slight step at the back.

      They had a similar style kerb around Paul Ricard at a few places.

      It’s a kerb stylethat works well because if you get the car too far over it the car sort of gets pulled out wider and you can also bottom out badly if you try to stay on it and get caught on the highest part at the back of it.

      It works great as a deterrent as drivers know they are going to lose time if they use too much of it.

      1. You see an example of them at 20 seconds in this practice highlights clip from Paul Ricard with Max running over one.

        1. Thanks @stefmeister that explains it really well.

  6. The announcer that is clearly anti-HAM was chirping about the Mercedes being over the line. The replay showed the tires were directly on the line with rubber on each side of line. Get rid of that announcer.

    1. Jim, sounds like you might have been watching the same feed as I watched. I was also scratching my head wondering how on earth they could think that was a line violation.

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