After race stewards recorded a staggering 43 track limits infringements at last weekend's Formula 1 Austrian Grand Prix, the general consensus among F1 drivers and bosses is that the issue will only get worse. Paul Ricard, for example, is one of the upcoming tracks with large, paved run-off areas. These usually entice drivers to push the limits of their racing lines, typically resulting in track limits violations. And in the recent case of Red Bull's Sergio Perez, it can even lead to deleted qualifying laps.
Perez's boss, Team Principal Christian Horner, has been rather outspoken about the issue, claiming that this will only be a "bigger issue."
"I think the problem is the nature of the circuits invites the drivers to use the track limits," said Horner, according to Motorsport. "I think [Paul] Ricard will be a bigger issue in that there is a genuine time gain to be had. And obviously, you've got acres of tarmac there, so it's just inviting you to run offline."
Haas F1 racing driver Mick Schumacher echoed the same sentiment, saying that "it’s something to be discussed, as I think in Paul Ricard especially it will be a big concern."
Perez's entire weekend at the Austrian GP was greatly affected by the lap deletion during qualifying, forcing him to start further than down the grid for the Sprint race on Saturday. As Schumacher said, the whole thing is "a bit silly."
“It does look a bit silly if for going a centimeter of track you get a penalty of five seconds, and most of the time when you go off you don’t gain any lap time, which is worse," added the German.
Whether it's at the Red Bull Ring, Paul Ricard, Monza, or any of the other upcoming tracks that are known for having smooth run-offs that hardly penalize drivers for going wide, both drivers and team bosses agree a solution must be implemented. Monitoring track limits visually appears to be the only process in place right now, essentially leaving it up to race control to police drivers throughout the weekend.
Current F1 world champion Max Verstappen, who has previously called these track-limits issues "a bit of a joke," has a solution in mind.
"Then just add a wall or bring some gravel back," said Verstappen, according to Motorsport. "It doesn’t look good for the sport as well. I don’t think we should have this, ah you went 1mm over, that’s a penalty or whatever."
So everyone's up in arms about track limits, very few people (except Verstappen) are offering real solutions, and it's clear that this will be the problem that keeps on giving. Perhaps the new, controversial, FIA race directors will come up with a solution in time for the French Grand Prix.
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