Daniel Ricciardo, AlphaTauri, Circuit of the Americas, 2023

Stewards again urge fix for “completely unsatisfactory” enforcement of track limits

Formula 1

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The stewards of the United States Grand Prix urged the FIA to find better means of enforcing track limits after indicating some violations went unpunished in that race.

Haas requested a review of the results of the race because they believed the stewards had overlooked multiple track limits breaches by rival drivers. The stewards rejected their request on multiple points, including the team’s failure to provide compelling new evidence to support their claim.

However the stewards acknowledged some video footage supplied by Haas appeared to show track limits breaches which were not noted during the race. They expressed their dissatisfaction at their inability to enforce the rules with the information available at the time of the race, which took place over two weeks ago

“Notwithstanding the formal outcome of this decision, the stewards have seen individual pieces of evidence that show what appear to be potential track limit breaches at the apex of turn six,” they noted. “They find their inability to properly enforce the current standard for track limits for all competitors completely unsatisfactory and therefore strongly recommend to all concerned that a solution to prevent further reoccurrences of this widespread problem be rapidly deployed.”

While many races have passed without any disputes over track limits, some have seen a high number of breaches. The stewards deleted 35 lap times for track limits infringements in Austin but other grands prix have seen even more: 51 in Qatar and 84 in Austria.

The stewards believe a range of options exist to implement a solution. “Whether the problem is properly addressed by better technology solutions, track modifications, a combination thereof, or a different regulation and enforcement standard, the stewards leave to those better positioned to make such assessments,” they said.

But the stewards made it clear a solution is urgently needed. “Based on the timing of this decision, it is clear that a complete solution cannot, as a matter of practicality, happen this year.

“But given the number of different circuits where significant track limit issues arose this season, acknowledging that the FIA in conjunction with the circuits have already made significant strides, further solutions should be found before the start of the 2024 season.”

Following the Austrian Grand Prix, where the result was subject to a protest by Aston Martin in relation to track limits infringements, the stewards said they “very strongly recommend that a solution be found to the track limits situation at this circuit.”

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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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36 comments on “Stewards again urge fix for “completely unsatisfactory” enforcement of track limits”

  1. Jonathan Parkin
    9th November 2023, 16:16

    Grass and gravel

    1. You don’t even need gravel as the actual run-off itself isn’t really the problem.

      You just need a 2m strip of grass at the back of the kerb to discourage drivers from going beyond the kerb. Once you do that it doesn’t really matter if whats beyond that is tarmac or gravel.

      The only problem with track limits is when you have a kerb that then transitions to the tarmac runoff with nothing in-between as not only is there then nothing there to discourage drivers from trying to go that bit wider but there’s also nothing there to give drivers a better visual on how far they are able to go as well as a bit of feedback through the wheel once they start to put a wheel onto the grass.

    2. See Yellow Baron’s comment at the bottom (currently). That is and will always be the answer.

      Zero common sense left in F1. Whiting would have solved this debacle by never starting it.

      1. Whiting was the primary cause of this ‘problem.’

        1. And how is that?

    3. If the green area on the picture above just needs to be grass. It not more complicated than that.

  2. I’ll repeat what I posted a few months ago:
    – loop 1m outside the track on each critical corner;
    – measuring device in the middle of both axles;
    – if both devises are triggered simultaneously, then automatically cut some power.
    — (I suggested to open the turbo waste gate for a few seconds, as this will reduce turbo power and/or electricity generation whilst giving a sonic feedback to the driver, competitors, and the public.)

    Next problem!

    1. Worst idea in the history of terrible ideas. Please don’t try solving any more problems, mate.

      1. I won’t charge you, pal.

      2. What is wrong with his idea? He has two parts:
        1- a couple of sensors at he middle of both axles, triggered by a strip in the track. Perfect. Both sensors trigger: 100% the car left the track limits.
        2- Cut the power… ok so this is debatable. It means to feedback is clear and immediate to the driver which is good. It means a mild penalty is applied impartially and immediately which is good. Are there potential safety issues? Well this could be looked at.

        I definitely like the sensor idea.

    2. The problem with any sort of cut in power is that if there’s a car running closely behind they may not be able to react fast enough to the car ahead suddenly not accelerating as expected & running into the back of him.

      1. The problem with any sort of cut in power is that if there’s a car running closely behind

        This objection is often mentioned often, but how is a (minor) cut in power any worse than the reduced grip on grass or gravel?

        1. A driver behind can see a car going onto grass or gravel so will expect to have to take avoiding action.

          A driver running a tiny bit over a sensor will be far less obvious to anyone behind. Remember that some of these will be drivers going over the white line by mm.

      2. Any loss in power doesn’t need to be immediate, it just needs to disincentivise going off the track. I think a solution along the lines of reduced harvesting (to ultimately limit deployment) of the ERS for the following lap (past the first braking zone) would be better. Apply a ratchet effect for repeat offences. This would at least give a chance for drivers to be aware that an artificially compromised car is running in front of them.

        The current setup of relying on cameras for visual inspection is clearly not working so a sensor driven solution will inevitably be deployed.

        1. I like this idea, a lot. There is no safety issue and it provides immediate feedback to the driver. The size of the penalty can be proportioned to the offense. Nice.

    3. Cutting power is a terrible idea, and a good way to cause accidents.

      However– the car already has a transponder located in the middle of the car, used for grid placement and jumped start. Timing loops 1m off the track are a perfectly reasonable idea, and can notify not just the FIA Stewards, but also the driver.

  3. The stewards rejected their request on multiple points, including the team’s failure to provide compelling new evidence to support their claim. (…) However the stewards acknowledged some video footage supplied by Haas appeared to show track limits breaches which were not noted during the race.

    What a great system where the people making bad decisions also get to decide whether or not those bad decisions can be reviewed – and can even admit to the review being justified while rejecting it.

    1. It strikes me as almost completely opposite to the way appeals of judicial decisions are made in the real world. In English law, at least, you appeal on the basis that the original judge made the wrong decision because they got the law wrong or didn’t deal with the evidence properly. You need to have special permission to introduce extra evidence on appeal, because the presumption is that you will have provided all the relevant evidence in the first place – you need to have a very good reason why this didn’t happen if you want to rely on something the first judge didn’t see.

      The FIA approach seems to be the other way around – you can’t appeal on the basis that the stewards misapplied the rules or overlooked key evidence, but only if you’ve somehow managed to discover some new evidence that wasn’t available at the time.

  4. We’ve often seen live camera feed from the front wings of the cars, so it is very obvious cameras could be installed in such a way as to show compliance (or not) with the track limits line. For example a camera could be installed on each of the edges of the rear wing facing forwards, with the camera showing both the ground beside both wheels on that car. I suggest they also change the rule from having 4 wheels off the track to having more than two wheels off the track because there have been times when a driver has kept one wheel on the white line.

  5. I know I’ve mentioned this quite a lot, but I still don’t get why the brown-ish surface material used at certain BIC corner exits isn’t used anywhere else in the world.
    That can’t realistcally be a Bahrain-only thing.
    Most importantly, both effective & safe for track limit policing purposes.

    1. What material are you talking about?

  6. Coventry Climax
    10th November 2023, 2:12

    Either have more -and sufficient- stewards and separate their tasks, adjust the rules such that there’s less work for the stewards to do or automate the entire track limits issue.
    That’s where it starts. Then and only after that’s been settled, discuss whats an appropriate and safe penalty. Power loss, drive through, time penalty, I don’t care about what penalty is deemed possible, safe, executable or whatever, I firstly care about the rules being enforced consistently.

    While they’re at it, mandate planks to be built up of layers 1 mm thick and of all different colors. Plank this or that color? OK, so many mm wear; no need for time consuming measurements.
    There’s millions of solutions like this for checking all aspects of all cars -like it should- after the race, and within half an hour.

  7. Does anyone else realise that this whole track limits thing nobody significantly cared about before a few years ago.

    Hack go back to Austria 2003 and see those track limits. Nobody cared because there were other things more amazing to care about.

    This whole track limits thing is the work of a few journalists and commentators that kept speaking to the F1 echo chambers a few years ago and now here we are.

    Because F1 is boring so we talk more about TL than everything else. What a sh * t show.

    Tarmac run off areas had been around for a good while before this became a big issue. So it’s not only due to track changes. Get a life.

    1. If you want it, enforce it totally and fairly, the same through a while weekend.

      If you can’t then don’t.

      It wasn’t a big deal in the past it’s simply a small issue amplified to insanity due to the lack of body that does the job properly.

      It’s made nearly every weekend dominated by track limits instead of everything else.

      Leave it how it was before the marketing team contrived it all, remember that you can’t overtake outside the lines and leave it at that.

      1. If you want it, enforce it totally and fairly, the same through a while weekend. If you can’t then don’t.

        That’s not really a viable attitude to sporting regulation, though – for any sport.
        You judge what you see, and only what you see – the only variable is how you see it. And as the FIA have rightly done – if they felt they couldn’t see something clearly enough, they didn’t penalise.
        Watch any game of football (any kind) and see if you think the referees are faultless throughout – even with their video backup these days… I’ll bet you see things they don’t pick up on, and miss things that they do.
        Personally, I think the human element is still an important factor to maintain – even if it means incorrect decisions are made.

        It wasn’t a big deal in the past it’s simply a small issue amplified to insanity due to the lack of body that does the job properly.

        It was a big issue in the past – that’s why it is finally being addressed. It just wasn’t as big an issue to certain people back then.
        Regardless, F1’s rule books are very explicit – and as such, the rules within them must be both enforced and obeyed (at the discretion of the FIA, of course, as they have that right). Every competitor voluntarily signs up to them in full knowledge of what they contain.

        It’s made nearly every weekend dominated by track limits instead of everything else.

        That’s because the ‘World’s Best Drivers’ still can’t be bothered (or are just plain incapable of) keeping their car on what is clearly defined as the track.
        If you don’t want rules enforcement to dominate your experience of F1, then I suggest you vocally support stronger penalties to act as sufficient discouragement for further breaches – and don’t forget to let the drivers know how poor their driving standards are while you are at it. Every time they exceed track limits, they embarrass themselves and frustrate people like yourself. The FIA aren’t making them drive like amateurs…

      2. 100%.

        Just like many in the F1 media are now hyperventilating and wagging their fingers over two people getting on the track after Brazil before the cooldown lap was 100% complete by everyone. Even the tiniest, most mundane things are now CONDEMNED. IN. THE. STERNEST. TONES. It’s like please give it a rest guy. Soon they’ll be acting like plastic bags are as dangerous as a cliff edge by the side of the track. Cause! Cause! Cause a big could get into a brake duct, overheat a brake and they go flying into the wall! This is serious! That’s where we’re headed with this lot.

        1. Cause a bag*

          …rant ruined

        2. Nick T., no, we are not seeing “the F1 media are now hyperventilating and wagging their fingers” – the only person who really seems to be hyperventilating and throwing a tantrum is you with your repeated angry posts on this topic with the aim of creating a problem that does not exist.

          Asides from the fact that there were far more people who got onto the track than you claim, the complaints were over the fact that the security measures that were supposed to stop people getting onto the track had clearly failed if people could bypass them so easily.

          1. Every single F1 website ran a story on it. Most with their own writer condemning it. And I was basing my comments with what the hosts of one of the biggest F1 related podcasts said about the incursion. And I was basing my numbers on what the articles said, which was that a small group of fans got onto the grass before the cool down lap finished. I’m sorry if you thought all those people going to stand under the podium was what they were talking about…

            And, I am far from the only person who complains on this site about the endless RFs, this new policy that a car cannot be left off the track even if it would be impossible to hit, no running in rain, etc. Maybe you should follow curling if you want an overly sanitized sport. You must have been terrified watching F1 before Massi and Wittich came along.

    2. Track limits do define the circuit. It is part of the challenge.

    3. Because those massive run-offs are getting more and more integrated in track design. At first, drivers were reluctant to use kerbs, because they were higher and could launch/unsettle the car. But we have seen a trend in flatter and flatter kerbs until we were left with painted areas at some tracks. Suspension design also got better with handling kerbs, so the abuse gets more pronounced through the years.

      Look at footage of someone driving around at Spa in the nineties vs now. Nowadays, everyone goes over the kerbs, back then most wouldn’t dare do that.

      The Austria revamp was frowned upon from day one with the removal of the gravel traps.

    4. Actually, the flouting of track limits rules has been obvious on TV for a long time. It gives the impression the drivers lack skill, which isn’t true. I endorse the attempts to punish drivers who go beyond the track limits line. If there is a problem at one particular part of the track then maybe the track limit line needs to be moved, but wherever it is then the rules should be observed.

  8. I beg of you, FIA, do not soften the approach of “the white line defines the circuit” – I think that is one of the cornerstones of the sport that was ignore for far, far too long.

    Is it really so difficult to cover all the lines with cameras of appropriate speed and resolution?

    The pinnacle of Motorsport cannot afford to have it’s most basic rules made unenforceable.

  9. Put a sensorstrip in each corner able to read the tire pressure monitor in each tire.
    4 sensors over the strip generates a light on the steering wheel and at the stewards.
    3 violations disables the battery for a lap and the drs.
    During qualification it’s a lost laptime.

  10. The problem is that Gravel doesn’t generate as much social media engagement as the current $i*&^%$ show we have nowadays…

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