Marquez, Vettel and exceeding track limits

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    Keith Collantine

    I saw a lot of oohing and aahing on Twitter yesterday about this pass by Marc Marquez on Valentino Rossi at Laguna Seca’s famed Corkscrew corner:


    It immediately reminded me of this similarly celebrated pass by Alex Zanardi on Bryan Herta on the final lap of the 1996 CART season:


    But in F1 such passes would surely be ruled illegal on the grounds that the driver completed the move by going off the track. We saw something similar one year ago today when Vettel was stripped of his second place in the German Grand Prix by going off the track to keep Jenson Button behind:

    Vettel demoted to fifth with 20-second penalty

    There have been many other examples of drivers being penalised for going off the track and gaining an advantage: Button at Melbourne in 2011 and Alonso at Silverstone in 2010 spring to mind.

    Is F1 missing out on potentially spectacular battles by forbidding drivers to gain or keep position by going off the track? Should they soften the rules a bit?


    Oli Peacock

    That was my thought immediately. Marquez would not of passed Rossi at that corner without ‘gaining an unfair advantage’ by cutting it. Heck, it’s like he planned to cut it, there a pic doing the rounds atm showing Marquez on track walk (on a bike) cutting to the inside of the corner. Personally, I think great passes in the future would be tainted if someone were to cut a corner to maintain/gain a position.



    To be fair to Marquez, he was already ahead on the brakes, and he had to leave room for Rossi on the exit. I think that was ok. It’s not like the Zanardi one where he just divebombs down the inside with no chance of making the corner.

    I remember Massa doing a move on Senna in Singapore last year I think, where he went off the track and didn’t get a penalty or have to give the place back, a move I felt was unfair. There have also been situations where the stewards have been too slow to tell the driver to give the place back, and the overtaken driver has either lost more places or pitted.

    I think F1 should punish drivers for overtaking off the track still, but they need to use common sense rather than just put a blanket ban on it, see my comments about the Marquez/Zanardi moves above.



    Well, I believe that the MotoGP stewards didn’t want to punish Marquez for a nice pass. Also, it may be permitted to go through there if you go side by side, because there is not much space at Corkscrew.



    And maybe it is because Marquez passed on the dirt, not an asphalt run off area


    Prisoner Monkeys

    I think the difference between Marquez and Vettel is that Marquez had the position when he ran off. Cutting across the apex like that was probably to give Rossi a but if space and avoid contact.

    Vettel, on the other hand, hadn’t passed Button when he ran wide. He had to go beyond the limits of the circuit to complete the pass, and would not have gained the position if he had stayed within the track limits.



    F1 shouldn’t soften the rules on overtaking within the track limits. If drivers were to constantly go off the circuit in order to pass others, it would make the sport look ridiculous.

    I remember Massa doing a move on Senna in Singapore last year I think, where he went off the track and didn’t get a penalty or have to give the place back, a move I felt was unfair.

    Massa didn’t exceed the track limits when passing Senna in Singapore. He always had at least two wheels within the track.



    Massa didn’t exceed the track limits when passing Senna in Singapore. He always had at least two wheels within the track.

    He was barely inside, if you freeze frame on this video you can see his outside tyre is at least half over the line



    Do none of you guys remember this?


    Go to 49 seconds for the start of the incident but the whole video’s great anyway. Rossi on Stoner 2008 at the Corkscrew. Still one of the best races I have ever seen. Rossi mentioned after the race he should have copyrighted the manoeuvre because Marquez now does the same thing to him!

    So the stewards have set a precedent for an overtake like this. They didn’t punish Rossi (and rightly so in my opinion, that was sensational racing) 5 years ago, so they could hardly punish Marquez now. Rossi couldn’t exactly complain either, he’s raced hard in the past many times. This time around though, Rossi (unlike Stoner) also went off the track, so where was Marquez meant to go if the guy inside him also goes off? I say fantastic racing and let them get on with it. Rossi and Marquez both felt that way as well, and not once during commentary did anyone say it was an unfair overtake.



    Whatever we might think about how “good” or exciting a particular pass like this is, opening up off track passes is an obvious minefield. Drivers would abuse it all day long, and if the rule is you don’t have to stay on the track to pass, how far does that go? If you’re behind a line of backmarkers, and there’s an alternative circuit configuration where you can take an empty tarmac shortcut around them, is that allowed? What if they’re not backmarkers? What if the shortcut lops off some laptime too? What if it’s officially “runoff area”? What use is a chicane, then?

    Moreover, it’s difficult enough to get the variously incompetent stewards to stick to the very clear “the track is delineated by the white lines” rule and the “must not gain an advantage” rule. What hope is there when off-track passing is allowed “when the crowd cheers” or “at corners x y and z”? I for one have no faith at all in their ability to regulate.

    And lastly, I bet that many supporters of this idea look at it as “reward the ballsy move” but are also adherents of the “these tarmac runoffs don’t punish driver mistakes” thinking, which is let’s say an amusing contradiction.



    I think it’s a matter of track, at the corckscrew the asphalt run off is very small , the dirt is just behind it and in both marquez and zanardi’s pass you can see the dus kicking up. most modern f1 tracks however have such huge asphalt run off area’s there might as well be a whole other track next to the racing line. Making use of that is an unfair advantage I think, doing it at leguna seca means the driven/rider takes a huge risk in the dirt and is rewarded for taking that risk, but if he would fail the “punishment”would most likely be a retirement. Not so on most f1-tracks there is no risk, the track simply continues beyond the white line for safety reasons



    I can’t see the MotoGP videos anymore as they have been taken down, but I thought Zanardi’s pass was ridiculous. First he lunges down the inside, then he cuts the chicane as there was no way he was going to make the corner. If that’s not gaining an advantage then I don’t know what is.



    @adrianmorse the videos are still there, you just need to follow the youtube link and watch them there :)


    Euro Brun

    Amazing pass. I don’t think you can compare Marquez and Vettels passes. If anyone tries to say that an F1 car cutting over dirt is gaining an advantage (especially with the current tyres), then i’m a dutchman. Dust on tarmac in Germany is nothing compared to the gravel and sand at Laguna Seca. I’m not gonna chastise the tarmac run offs that are clearly good for safety (and for keeping more cars in the race), but having a fringe of grass, say 2 wheel widths wide would stop people cutting corners in no time.
    Would love to see F1 at Laguna, but could never see it meeting safety requirements. Lap times would be lightening quick too.



    Interesting that F1’s returning to Austria – In the Renault 3.5 meeting there at the weekend, there were so many “track-limits” warnings and one guy lost second place due to a penalty for that reason.
    One slow right-hander in particular (turn 1 I think) had ridiculous numbers of drivers piling in way too fast, overshooting then using the tarmac run-off to accelerate away. Seems to me the location of the run-offs, kerbs etc needs looking at before it’s a Formula 1-standard venue.

    Mark Webber complimented the kerbs at the Nürburgring final chicane, saying they were “self-policing”. Not certain what he meant by that, but sounds like it can be done right with a bit of thought.

    But I dread to think what F1 would do to the Corkscrew if it ever went there – yards and yards of stupid astroturf, asphalt run-off and no doubt there’d be a giant oversized pit building as a shrine to Bernie and home for the Pillock Club.

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