Pastor Maldonado, Lotus, Albert Park, 2014

Some corners ‘special cases’ in track limits disputes

2014 F1 seasonPosted on | Author Keith Collantine

Pastor Maldonado, Lotus, Albert Park, 2014Exceptions will be made to the rules regarding abuse of track limits where they are needed, according to FIA race director Charlie Whiting.

In a media briefing at the Australian Grand Prix, a summary of which was published by the FIA, Whiting noted that drivers had argued there are “certain corners on certain circuits that require special treatment” when judging whether a driver had gained an advantage by going off the track.

“Track limits have become a very emotive subject,” the summary noted. “Fundamentally, a driver is required to use the track at all times. If any part of the car remains within the boundaries of the white lines, he is deemed to be using the track. If he has all four wheels over the white lines, he’s off the track.

“A driver is allowed to leave the track and rejoin without penalty, providing he does so safely and providing he does not gain an advantage. It is up to us to decide whether he has gained an advantage from being off track. 
Circuits are designed so that going off track should always be slower – or at least not faster.

“My view is that if you have two wheels on a bumpy kerb and two on artificial grass, that is not faster. Not everybody shares that view but it is held by the majority.

“In Jerez, we held a meeting with the drivers to discuss the matter. They agreed with the general point of view but argued that there are certain corners on certain circuits that require special treatment. Therefore we will treat each circuit individually rather than making a blanket ruling.”

Track limits were a point of contention in the final race of last season in Brazil where Felipe Massa was penalised for repeatedly cutting across the pit apron at the final corner on the Interlagos track. The stewards had issued a notification before the race that drivers who cut the corner would be punished.

An update to the 2014 rules states drivers must not gain any “lasting” advantage by leaving the circuit.

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71 comments on “Some corners ‘special cases’ in track limits disputes”

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  1. From a pure ‘rules’ point of view, I don’t think that drivers should be allowed to go beyond the white lines. But now, with more sensitive views in regard to safety, they seem to be more lenient when it comes to drivers going off track.
    While I agree that safety is vitally important, it is also responsible for taking away some of the excitement of the sport. I honestly would rather see only grass or gravel beyond the white lines instead of runoff and curbs. Yes, it would suck to have a driver fail to finish a race because of a minor mistake, but as it right now, the drivers are allowing themselves to make minor ‘mistakes’ in order to gain advantages.
    The only thing I could think of to solve this is to put plenty of runoff at each corner, and then after the race give time penalty for instance in which a driver went beyond the white lines.

  2. How many ‘special cases’ will Monaco have?
    Off the track is off the track and the stewards now have the ability to give a 5s penalty that can coincide with a pitstop, so there would be no unduly harsh penalties as was possible in the past.
    Teams will lobby for or against as it suits their car and drivers and the ‘special cases’ will end up being determined by the most persuasive (read: influential) team.

  3. This is very strange for me.

  4. If they don’t want them driving off the track they shouldn’t have paved everything, put the gravel back.

  5. As others have said, all they have to do is put a metre-wide strip of grass on the outside edge of kerbs.

    But maybe the eco-lobby don’t like the idea of a big fat dirty tyre driving over beautiful grass and harming the local environment.

  6. slackbladder
    24th March 2014, 2:53

    Ha! these new cars can hardly get round a track let alone exceed the track limit, this is just so they can pass more often! LOL

  7. Turn 4 at Hungaroring is an interesting piece of land: It is where Massa had his big accident in 2009 and where he was “passed” by Grosjean.

    Without the tarmac run off, the Ferrari may not have decelerated enough, or the gravel trap could have flipped the car and made the impact much worse. But without the tarmac run off Grosjean would have been much less likely to attempt a pass.

    I don’t agree with others wanting to replace all run off with gravel. There is a reason for tarmac run off. It is safer for drivers in the event of mechanical failure. Going back to grass/gravel run off also reduces the likelihood of overtaking. If you are lining up a pass and know that the heavy braking area has a tarmac run off area you know you can go in heavy and if you get it wrong you can continue without losing too much time, maybe not even lose a place. Getting it wrong with a gravel trap can end your race.

    My question is: Why do we need excessive tarmac run off areas on the corner exits? A car park area is too much. If a car goes off track due to an overtake gone wrong, the car park run off allows them to rejoin with no loss of time.

    Tarmac being used off-track in acceleration zones or car park run off areas where one can leave the circuit and have a wide open expanse is where my issue is. It is where ALL the problem is, and it is at nearly EVERY track. “Off-track incidents” over the years have occurred at:
    Australia: T11/12
    Malaysia: T12
    China: T16
    Monaco: Chicane
    Canada: Champions’ Chicane
    Britain: Stowe & Vale
    Germany: (Hock) Hairpin
    Hungary: T4 & T6
    Belgium: Les Combes, Bus Stop
    Italy: Rettifilo & Roggia
    Singapore: T1/2, T7 & T11/12
    Japan: 130R
    Brazil: Senna & Lago (T4)
    Abu Dhabi: Every Corner

    The speed bumps used in some run off areas (like at T1 at Spain & Monza) need to be deployed a little more around the calendar. On tracks where there is tarmac on corner exits (Last corner China, Hockenhiem hairpin or T1/2 Singapore) a thick strip of wet astroturf, placed beyond the rumble strips on the exits of tight corners will do the trick: Go too wide and you obtain an immediate performance penalty.

    If you have a legitimate mechanical issue into these tight corners, the tarmac beyond the braking zone will help arrest the car’s velocity. But the “car park run off” shouldn’t allow an overtake gone wrong to result on no time loss.

  8. “Gained and advantage”, “lasting advantage”, these terms are just shades of grey. If you go over the white lines with all four wheels you have exceeded the track limits and should be penalized. End of. I’ve often wondered why the tracks aren’t built so that the track is lined with kerbing, the a strip of real grass about a car width wide and then the tarmac runoff. If the drivers know they are running onto slippery real grass rather than relatively grippy artificial stuff, they wouldn’t ruin onto it.

  9. So which corners is Charlie saying are the ‘exceptions’ ?

  10. Massa’s was different to me. he was warned personally, and the drivers were warned together, and he wasnt forced. when you are pushed outside on an overtake, thats different to me and sporting, not what massa did.

  11. Trevor Clark
    11th April 2014, 11:30

    It’s funny when they race around Monaco they can keep within the track limits, as the penalty is “end of race”, but in Bahrain there are large run off areas. Now while I agree that these run off areas are for driver safety, there should be penalties for going off track. If the basic premise is to stay “on the black stuff” then with all the technology F1 currently employs, it shouldn’t be too difficult to have track sensors on the inside of corners, picked up be individual cars (similar to lap timers). These sensors would be monitored by F1 and automatic penalties applied per incidence of .10 second, so if 5 errors occur they get .5 seconds added to their lap. OK finishng positions would then be subject to post race results, but these are currently (too frequently in some years) decided in the courts, so no difference! Considering the pay these guys get surely they can keep thier car within the whilte lines, on the black tarmac. With a 12 meter track width and a 1.8 meter car width, surley we are not asking too much? Errors MUST be penalised in every case. I consider putting ONE wheel off the track to be unacceptable, as the drivers are supposed to be at the “top” – the cream of the sport.

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