Some corners ‘special cases’ in track limits disputes

2014 F1 season

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

  1. Wonderduck (@wonderduck) said on 23rd March 2014, 16:15

    …certain corners on certain circuits that require special treatment…

    Then change the track limits, change the corner, or hold the drivers to the rules. Don’t screw around and say that they deserve “special treatment” that’s open to a judgement call that the Stewards will invariably get wrong, just fix the turn or enforce the rules.

    This isn’t difficult, but Whiting et al seem to insist on making it so.

  2. Look back at Suzuka 13 when a Toro was penalized for passingon the ooutside of the long sweeping left hander. Whoever it was that passed on outside was exceeding track limits but it was a reasonable pass and he was penalized. If I remember the he was trying to avoid the person he passed due to high closing rate and didn’t have much of an option. Gonna find a link or confirm who it was.

  3. Hairs (@hairs) said on 23rd March 2014, 17:13

    This really is a stupid way of bringing in needless confusion to what should be very simple: the track is defined by the white lines. Everyone stays within the white lines. If you drive outside the white lines, you get penalised. Nobody it’s going to be “robbed” of a great pole lap became a lap on the edge inside the lines is the same as one outside the lines. As to overtaking, that raises the question how drivers in years past were able to overtake using wider cars on narrower circuits, when stewards didn’t give them the leeway they do now?

    The fia, yet again, choosing to shoot themselves in the foot rather than allow a simple, easily defended system to be put in place.

    There is only one requirement for track limit rulings: they must be consistent. This proposal seems defined to ensure they won’t be.

  4. Frans said on 23rd March 2014, 17:14

    I don’t mind the drivers being allowed to go beyond the track limits on some corners, as long as every driver got the memo and they pass the memo to the viewers!
    When some drivers does go beyond the track limits and some don’t, I do question whether everyone got the memo or it’s just by request.

  5. AdrianMorse (@adrianmorse) said on 23rd March 2014, 18:08

    I appreciate the simplicity and consistency of the ‘stay within the white lines idea’, but I really hate penalties for exceeding white lines, which usually occur around overtakes. To name three situations from last year: Grosjean on Massa in Hungary, Ricciardo on (I believe) Sutil in Japan, and, most ridiculously of all, Hulkenberg defending from Perez in Singapore.

    Unfortunately, I do not think the circuits will be changed, and the rule is not going to go, so we will be stuck with it. In case of Singapore, they could just get rid of the white lines and let the walls define the track limits – but that’s not going to happen either. So we are not only stuck with this rule, but also this discussion will recur with every contentious penalty.

  6. Irejag (@irejag) said on 23rd March 2014, 20:26

    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.

  7. MtlRacer (@mtlracer) said on 23rd March 2014, 20:40

    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.

  8. SauberS1 (@saubers1) said on 23rd March 2014, 21:32

    This is very strange for me.

  9. Brian C (@bcracing) said on 23rd March 2014, 22:48

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

  10. Neil said on 24th March 2014, 2:51

    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.

  11. slackbladder said on 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

  12. Kazihno (@kazinho) said on 24th March 2014, 3:47

    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.

  13. GeeMac (@geemac) said on 24th March 2014, 6:51

    “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.

  14. Mark (@marlarkey) said on 24th March 2014, 10:31

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

  15. toddjamin (@toddjamin) said on 24th March 2014, 10:41

    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.

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