Pierre Gasly, AlphaTauri, Hungaroring, 2022

Gasly pleased FIA is considering “different options” for track limits policing in 2023

2022 Hungarian Grand Prix

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Pierre Gasly had a lengthy discussion with Formula 1’s race directors about track limits policing after his qualifying for the Hungarian Grand Prix was ruined by a deleted lap time.

The AlphaTauri driver’s fastest lap in Q1, a 1’19.116, was deleted due when the stewards ruled he had exceeded track limits at turn five, leaving him only 19th on the grid. His team mate Yuki Tsunoda and Haas’s Mick Schumacher were found to have committed the same violation.

A fourth driver, Sergio Perez, was initially ruled to have gone wide at the same corner. On further inspection of additional footage of the incident, the stewards changed that decision and reinstated Perez’s deleted lap time.

Gasly insisted he had also remained within track limits. The decision against him compromised his race weekend: Facing a start on the back row, AlphaTauri chose to change power unit components on his car and start him from the pit lane, from where he finished a lapped 12th.

Before the race, Gasly had a lengthy discussions with members of race control. “Based on what’s happened I was still quite mad about it because from what I’ve seen and the image that I’ve seen, it’s very arguable whether I was on track or off track,” he said after Sunday’s race.

“Similar things happen to Yuki and Checo [Perez], and from the onboards they were clearly on the track. But anyway, that was it.”

Perez, who was at the heart of another track limits mix-up in Austria three weeks earlier, said the incidents show “the system is not really up to it, we have to review it and see how we can move better forwards to have some more consistency.” Gasly echoed his view: “We either have the right tools to police it in the first way, or in that case you should not do it,” said the AlphaTauri driver.

Gasly said his discussions with F1 race directors Niels Wittich and Eduardo Freitas indicated further improvements to the system are under consideration. “I spent 40 minutes with Niels and Eduardo this morning trying to discuss, and find a way that everybody is happy,” said Gasly on Sunday.

“At the moment they have a huge amount of work, they’re not making their life very easy. Clearly in this turn five they didn’t have the right tools to police it in the most fair way possible. We just spoke about solutions going forward to have first a more consistent way of policing it, and making sure it’s going in the right direction.

“They were quite open, I think they’re expecting feedback, and I’ll get back to all the drivers as well to see if over the next few weeks we can just try to find a way to also provide some solution for them to make it better.”

Gasly explained that in his case the FIA had used CCTV, his helmet camera and the automatic sensors to judge whether he had remained within track limits. He believes the fact his helmet camera was in use at the time of the incident “didn’t allow any other camera basically to check whether I was on track or not.”

The footage used to determine his penalty was “arguable,” Gasly added.

He indicated F1 may bring in additional equipment to monitor track limits in 2023. “That’s what we discussed,” he said. “I know that for next year they’re already looking at different options, but unfortunately I was the one paying the consequences of this happening.”

Some series that raced at the Hungaroring earlier in their year installed additional track limits cameras at key points. F1’s next grand prix takes place at Spa-Francorchamps, a venue which holds endurance races and therefore has developed a working system for track limits policing at night and in foggy conditions with a combination of static and in-car cameras.

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2022 Hungarian Grand Prix

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Author information

Ida Wood
Often found in junior single-seater paddocks around Europe doing journalism and television commentary, or dabbling in teaching Photography back in the UK. Currently based...
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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33 comments on “Gasly pleased FIA is considering “different options” for track limits policing in 2023”

  1. Well, I hope they do find a way to make it clear-cut and more or less automatic to police, since it really shouldn’t be something we need to debate over time and time again.

    1. Just let then use all the track they want on exit and on inside of turns just put a bollard that ruins the wrong wing.
      Problem solved. No policing needed.
      If you don’t want them to use as much track on exit just design the track differently.
      Simple as that.

      1. It’s not that simple, Initially.

        Tracks owners want people to use them, meaning more than just one F1 race weekend a year. So they cannot simply create a track to suit one formula. Possibly unfortunate, but that’s what it is.

        1. Hobo, my argument that cars shouldn’t cut corners doesn’t just apply to F1. I think in any racing series, you should be expected to stay inside the track. But then I thought about what you said and realised that a junior cart hitting a bollard might have quite a different effect, and for bike races, hitting a bollard is probably much more dangerous. I don’t see that as insurmountable though, or even expensive to solve. Tracks could simply install standardised bolt systems on the insides of corners, say an M22 thread with countersunk head. Then if F1 wants extra high kerbs or bollards, it becomes a five minute job to securely bolt the kerb into location using the pre-installed bold holes, and if MotoGP wants the corner clear, they simply cover the bolt holes with flush fitting caps. I’m pretty sure some rumble strip is already bolted into place so it’s not a revolutionary idea.

      2. Good to see another person in favour of limiting the insides only. There is a natural limit on how far wide you can run, created by the rumble strip, the grass or shale, and ultimately the barriers. I really don’t see what the problem is with running wide. However, on the other side, cutting a corner, I don’t see why cars are allowed to use the kerbs on the inside at all. I’m sure it is not beyond the capabilities of the F1 geniuses to create a suitable bollard system for the insides.

  2. I, too, am all for automating the deletion of laps not completed on the racing surface.

    1. Yes i am all for that but it mus be automatic with a computer with sensors so a driver is really outside the line not like Perez where he had still 2 tyres on the white line.

      1. @macleod
        Whilst I am sure automation is technically possible, it possibly is not practically achievable. And even if it is, I am sure there will still be controversial decisions.

        That said, I am hugely in favour of black and white track limits penalisations even if there are occasional controversial decisions. Frankly, there will be controversies whatever the ruling, and at least this is easy to understand and removes a lot of variability.

        1. @cairnsfella

          I think there must be a compromis if the system detect a tracklimits a operator get that in front of him so he can see if that was correct and press out if that was like Perez on the border he can press in. This is how air defense also works. So if the system says ok that means the operator doesn’t get to see it and doesn’t waste time on it.

          1. @macleod
            I don’t have an issue with such an approach. I am merely saying there will always be disputed outcomes even with such systems. I may be mistaken but I believe, for example, the tennis systems decisions are still sometimes disputed.

      2. Macleod, surely the rule that “you have to have all four wheels off track to be considered off track” is simply a rule for the convenience of the judges, so you don’t have to argue about whether or not the driver cut the corner too much. It could have been written the other way, if any part of a wheel cuts the white line, you’ve cut the corner, but then the stewards would have so many violations to deal with. So with automatic sensors, you change the rule to say “if you trigger the sensor its an automatic penalty” and its the same rule for everyone. During practice, the “penalty” should only be a bleep in the drivers earpiece, so they can learn where the limits of the track are, in the same way they learn where the walls are in Canada and Monaco.

  3. I like the rules, but I don’t understand why the policing is manual instead of electronic.

    1. @sjaakfoo The reason electronic pressure pads & stuff aren’t used more is that they aren’t really something you can just turn up & put down as for them to work well, Be reliable & not be at risk of been damaged or moved should a car drive over them they really need to be built into the track & that is added work/expense circuit owners/promoters don’t want to spend.

      1. @gt-racer – Yeah that’s one major issue. A good temporary solution would be to set up a camera that only exists to police track limits. You could run it on a cable over the track (like they do at football stadiums) so it could be positioned to look directly down the line. Then instead of using onboard cameras or hoping the cameramen caught the incident, they’d have a clear view. You could do this at any corner where it’s likely a car would go wide and gain an advantage.

        Another alternative is to mandate an onboard camera that is positioned on the side of the car so there is a clear view of track limit violations.

        1. @petebaldwin I would even go further and use a drone grid combined with existing racetrack scans and precise positioning. They would be able to adapt to any circuit relatively easily.

      2. Motogp track limits are monitored by pressure pads.

      3. GT, yes, pressure pads would be tricky to set up, I agree, but they seem to have some system under each grid slot which detects if a car is moving before the lights go out, and the same system is used in the start finish line for timing, so I’ve wondered why the same type of sensor cannot be used to detect track limits violations automatically.

        I really don’t think it would be difficult to construct robust portable sensors say one meter long, 20cm wide, a curved surface a couple of centimeters high which can be painted bright yellow and bolted on the inside of the track at the apex. Make the rule that if any part of your car hits that one meter wide target, you set off the sensor and get an automated penalty, no exceptions. Yes, it may be difficult to exactly calibrate them consistently, but that is okay because it is still the same for all drivers.

  4. Totally forgot Gasly is still in F1

  5. Andy (@andyfromsandy)
    3rd August 2022, 12:53

    The track limits still has to be investigated by a human because the regulation is leaving the track without justifiable reason. So it has to be looked in case there was one.

    1. Andy, I disagree. If it was a concrete wall and you hit it, it doesn’t matter what the reason was. It may feel unfair, but sometimes life is unfair. Imagine, for instance, that the race leader comes out of a bend and sees a groundhog on track. He might have to stamp on the brakes, flat spot his tyres, and see his rival sail past. Or he hits a patch of oil dropped by another car and takes the scenic route through the gravel trap. It is unlucky, unfair, but you cannot avoid the natural penalty of those situations. So why not the same with track limits? The reason it is a kerb, not a wall is for safety. It isn’t there do that you can take a short cut.

      1. Leaving the track without justifiable reason: I.e. pushed off by another competitor, avoiding a car that has spun in front of you. There will always be good reasons for going off track vs. simply trying to get an extra tenth here and there.

    2. I absolutely agree mate. However the rule needs to be simple for humans to be able
      to apply it fairly and consistently whilst understanding that sometimes there are reasons to be zceee track limits – like being pushed off by another car/driver. At the moment it is not, and because the rule makers try and get cute with an inconsistent rule, everyone is confused and frustrated by it.

      Every ball sport has a boundary delineating the field of play. If either the ball or the player with the ball goes outside those lines, they’re out of bounds. Everyone who follows sport around the world is familiar with this concept.

      Racing used to have a similar unwritten rule. The boundary of the track used to be the edge of the racing surface, as beyond that was grass, sand, gravel, a wall, trees etc. so you did not want to go outside of the track because it would kinda ruin your day.

      The issue has been created by using tarmac run offs which do yield a benefit if you go off the proper track and exceed the white lines.

      So the rule that is needed is really very simple. Keep part of your car on or inside the white lines at all times. At every track. At every corner. On every straight. If you are forced off for whatever reason, these situations are the exception, and will be looked at by the race director before applying a penalty. However the majority of laps being deleted for track limits do not involve a second car.

      If that rule is enforced fairly and consistently, the issue will disappear.

      1. Should have said exceed track limits. Still no edit function Kieth!!!

  6. Here’s a good idea, have Gasly on the sidelines judge track limits for 2023.

    1. @peartree yes GAS has underperformed massively but AT are also responsible for the near zero in season improvements to the car going from a upper midfield team to a lower midfield verging on backmarker team.

      I hope Honda are purchasing the team soon because the lack of development and investment in AT might be a sign that they are going to be taken over.

  7. Hopefully they look into natural track limit solutions too

    1. Jonathan Parkin
      3rd August 2022, 13:56

      In my opinion it’s the only solution

    2. Andy (@andyfromsandy)
      3rd August 2022, 16:13

      That would be fine if the only thing the circuit needed was one F1 race per year.

      They all want to be multi-disciplined so are bike friendly as well.

  8. The technology exists to accurately review line infringements, the Hawk-Eye tennis line calling system for example. This can zoom in to view less than a millimeter. The FIA should call the folks at Wimbledon.

  9. But if you have automatic track limits, then there wont be any grey areas for the preferred driver that weekend.

  10. Simple solution: if you drive off track and can get back on without losing the car, it’s legal. If not, the penalty is automatically served. If it’s got pavement, it’s racetrack and you ought to be able to drive on it, even if you break your car on the curbs.

    1. This is not rallycross. The track is defined by the white line and has been for decades – the rule has been consistent, the enforcement of it laughable.
      I’m all for physical limits. I’ve been watching a lot of older (80’s, 90’s) races recently, and while I understand that we can’t have gravel traps everywhere because of the other formulae racing on the same tracks – we can put high kerbs in. Not sausage kerbs that launch the car, but raised kerbs that if the driver runs onto them will slow them down. Worked really well and drivers gave them a probably wide berth, and I’ve not seen any crashes caused by them.

      If that’s deemed unsafe, then the existing rule properly enforced is fine. Can’t stay on the track? Slow down until you can. Still can’t? Go find a formula you have enough talent to compete in.

  11. Not a great deal of respect for the referee’s authority anymore, is there…..

    How sad it is that we can no longer allow humans to make decisions – we must get computers to do it for us.
    And this is supposed to be a sport?
    Sounds like science to me. Cold, humanity-free science straight from a laboratory.

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