Bans for drivers over track limits are “too harsh”, Formula 2 CEO admits

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Formula 2 CEO Bruno Michel says “common sense” changes are need to stop drivers incurring race bans chiefly due to track limits violations.

Three F2 drivers have been given race bans this years after reaching the threshold of 12 penalty points. Each incurred some of those points for exceeding track limits.

One of those drivers, Oliver Caldwell, earned more than half of his points for track limits offences, including five in a single race in Bahrain. The drivers’ other points were given for more serious infringements such as failing to respect warning flags, speeding in the pits or collisions with other drivers.

Asked by RaceFans whether banning drivers chiefly due to track limits violations was excessive, Michel said: “I completely agree.”

“I think there are absolutely clear reasons for which a driver needs to be penalised, if they do something dangerous or if they’re not applying the regulations,” he said.

“Track limits of course is something that needs to be looked at, there’s no doubt about that. But we had some situations where I think [for] track limits a driver got six penalty points over the same race, or something like this, and obviously there’s something wrong with that.”

F2’s track limits penalties work in much the same way as F1’s, where drivers are given penalties if they repeatedly run too wide during a race. Michel said he plans to discuss with the FIA whether the rule needs to be revised.

“So, yes, that’s something that we need to address with the FIA, of course, because they are the regulators, to see that this can be applied with with common sense. Because track limits are very important but on the other end, having a race ban because of track limits is a little bit too harsh.”

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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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16 comments on “Bans for drivers over track limits are “too harsh”, Formula 2 CEO admits”

  1. Seems perfectly fair to me. If you can’t keep the car on the track, to the point where you run the risk of a race ban, you probably aren’t good enough to belong in the series anyway.

    1. They get warned before penalty points are applied for going off the track. If you still can’t keep it on the track after that, you get the points. If that happens multiple times then eventually you’ll get a ban. It seems perfectly fair to me.

      No-one is getting banned for accidentally going a bit wide a couple of times – it’s for repeatedly doing so and continuing to do so after you’ve been warned to stop doing it. Whether it’s a lack of ability to control your car or just a wilful disregard for the rules, it’s worthy of penalty points in my opinion.

      1. Yes but the driver should receive in-race penalties for repeated track limits violation. They shouldn’t be collecting penalty points at all.

        1. Every driver on an FIA road course is subject to the Circuit Code of Conduct as outlined in the FIA Code. This means, under article 2.d that “the appearance of a lack of control over the car (such as leaving the track) will be reported to the Stewards and may entail the imposition of penalties up to and including the disqualification of any driver concerned.”

          Leaving the track is specifically mentioned as an example of this offense. In fact, it is the only example specifically mentioned. The stewards were well within their rights to penalize these repeat offenders (they are warned, warned again, then penalized, and only banned if they are penalized multiple times!).

  2. 6 penalty points in a race for track limits? Well, this is because the driver went off the track limits enough times to acquire them. I can’t see what is the bad thing in this. And more so in F2, where drivers are supposed to be “learning”.

    1. It would seem that some are a little slower to “Learn” than are are others.
      You either have rules and everyone has to live by them, or you don’t have rules.

  3. Why can’t they just use the black and white flag and give a time penalty after the warning? Penalty points seems silly, those should be reserved for dangerous driving.

  4. Repeatedly breaching any rule – intentionally or not – most definitely does warrant a ban.

  5. Drivers get warned in the briefing. Warned in the practise sessions. Warned in the race. Then, eventually, they are penalized. They have to do this a ton of times before they gather a meaningful number of penalty points. Staying within the tracks it the least you can expect from the highest rated (by the FIA’s scale) series outside F1.

    The problem here is that F1 over the last 20 years has had such bad enforcement of the rules that it has become ‘normal’ to a whole generation of drivers, team bosses and commentators alike. But the rules are really quite simple, and it’s totally possible to avoid these penalties and race bans – as evidenced by the vast majority of F2 drivers.

  6. I agree with the new strictness for this rule. I guess one alternative is to give the offending driver a time penalty for each excursion, e.g. say they got a 2 second time penalty for each excursion, then they’d soon discover they can keep the car on the track.

  7. A track limit violation should certainly punish the offending driver during the race if it results in an unfair advantage, but to carry it over to subsequent races is similar to football players accumulating match bans for every small foul that never warranted an actual yellow or red card in themselves. As long as the punishment in the current event is enough to discourage repeat behaviour from all but the most dense drivers, then its excessive to punish beyond the scope of the current event – if not we end up with convoluted penalty systems that distract from the racing.
    So disagree with almost everyone here. Sometimes rules are bad rules. Then you need to change them. As the series CEO thankfully confirms.

  8. This seems fine. Too harsh would be beheading or something like that. Unless they are in Bahrain or Saudi.

  9. Perhaps they should remember that not so many years ago leaving the track was essentially heading straight to the scene of the accident, some of which were fatal or at the very least resulted in serious injury.

    A ban these days seems a fair price to pay for lack of skill.

    1. I am glad to see the overhwelming majority of the comments here support logic. As @dbradock mentions there are very good reasons why not to want drivers to run off track all the time.

      And as is pointed out by many of us above, a driver has to go off track quite a bit to get enough penalty points that they have to sit out a race. Those are many many warnings ignored, many penalties applied before this happens, and the easiest solution for the driver – just heed those track limits a bit more regularly – was not applied. So then, the penalty system does what it was designed to do, exactly like the points system on my regular drivers licence – breaking the rules consistently means you will have to sit out for a while.

  10. I’m not being funny but if they can’t drive that’s their problem.

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