‘On the limit is not over the limit’: How Verstappen optimised his starting position

2023 Australian Grand Prix

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Max Verstappen said he pushed his starting position for the Australian Grand Prix to the limit, following questions over its legality.

The Red Bull driver positioned his car with its front wheels at the edge of the white line which marked his grid box at the final restart.

Verstappen’s start was legal as the International Sporting Code states cars must not stray beyond their starting position. Article 8.6.1.a notes: “For a standing start, [a car] must be stationary at its allocated grid box with no part of the contact patch of its front tyres outside of the lines (front and sides) at the time of the start signal.”

However following the penalties Fernando Alonso and Esteban Ocon incurred at the first two races of the season, Verstappen’s extreme positioning provoked many questions over its legality on social media.

The Red Bull driver revealed he moved slightly in his grid box after he originally pulled up in order to optimise his starting position.

“To be honest with you I think I braked a bit late and then I lost my reference a bit,” Verstappen explained. “But then I looked and I was like I still have a little bit more space. I actually moved a bit forwards and yeah, it was really on the limit.

“But on the limit is on the limit, it’s not over the limit.”

Verstappen had to make three standing starts during the course of yesterday’s race due to a series of red flags. He lost positions to both Mercedes drivers at his original start from pole position, but his final start was successful as he held Lewis Hamilton behind to secure victory in the race.

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“The first one was not good,” said Verstappen. “Just didn’t really get well off the line. I think, actually it just got better and better, my starts. So at least that’s an improvement.”

While George Russell beat Verstappen off the line from second place at the start of the race, Lewis Hamilton admitted he was disappointed not to replicate his team mate’s successful getaway at the decisive final standing restart.

“Up alongside Max at the end, I really was hoping for a better start than I got,” said Hamilton. “We both got pretty much similar getaways and then he had a better second phase.”

Video: Verstappen in his grid position

This video shot by a spectator shows Verstappen stopping in his grid position, then moving his car further forward:

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2023 Australian 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...

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    17 comments on “‘On the limit is not over the limit’: How Verstappen optimised his starting position”

    1. Tiaki Porangi
      3rd April 2023, 8:26

      Have always wondered why other drivers don’t do this. Lewis, for example, started well back inside his box in the second start under the red flags. Being a foot or so ahead must surely count for something…the V8 Supercars drivers have their pit engineers actually calling out the distance to them, like “a couple feet more, a bit more”, until they get to an optimum starting position.

    2. Verstappen probably pushed the limit more than his team would have liked, it’s a fine line between on the limit and a penalty (literally). Verstappen would have looked a complete plonker if he had gone over and ended up getting a 5 or 10s penalty for the final restart and finished last. He didn’t of course but is gaining 5 cm worth losing a win for?

      1. I didn’t think they were allowed coaching on laps to the grid? And surely that would allow, “you can move forwards a few more inches”, but yeah, you’d think in general there would be more interest in getting closer to the limit.

        1. They are from this year.

      2. Good point. Imagine losing a race win and dropping out of the points over it @slowmo!

        I guess this is probably mostly about Verstappen just having gotten slightly ahead and having checked that he was still on it rather than a deliberate plan. But who knows.

      3. And that is why he is World Champion – every cm (literally) counts

        1. Apparently such things only “count” for the third standing start.

          1. Apparently, since that was the only standing start that worked out for him.

    3. You would think the smartest automotive engineers in the world could come up with a marking on the car to line it up perfectly every time…

      1. That’s more complex than you’re making it sound and it’s pretty dumb to think optimizing your starting position by 3” is going to make a difference. While Max may have supernatural driving abilities, he doesn’t have them for lining his car up to within a CM of the line. He just got lucky he didn’t go one CM more.

      2. You would think the smartest automotive engineers in the world could come up with a marking on the car to line it up perfectly every time…

        They probably already have, but since it would weigh more than a coat of paint they won’t consider fitting it while the distance advantage for the one (or 1.05 approx) time it will get used each race is negated by 50+ slower laps due to the extra weight.

    4. There’s a limit. If you do not break the limit your okay.
      That simple.

      1. That simple.

        That lucky.

        1. He won so who cares 🙄…

          1. point was that the forward positioning benefit is probably negated by the ability of others to move forward without leaving the box, before the start ( a sort of jump start) and it the limit pushing comes with a risk of being a millimetre or so too far forward and getting a time penalty.
            Basically a move of dubious benefit with a high risk of exceeding the limit.

            Like I said “lucky” one two counts:
            1. Lucky for him. He didn’t get a penalty
            2. Lucky for us that we didn’t have to hear a load of RBR whines about over-zealous stewards ruining the racing

            1. Where did that bold come from?

    5. As soon as you touch this limit, something happens and you can go a little bit further.

    Comments are closed.