FIA steward weighs in on how contentious track limits can be improved

Thomas Maher
Alpine's Esteban Ocon in action at the 2023 Austrian Grand Prix. Spielberg, July 2023. Track limits

Alpine's Esteban Ocon in action at the 2023 Austrian Grand Prix. Spielberg, July 2023.

Le Mans winner and former FIA steward Tom Kristensen has some ideas on how to improve the issue of track limits.

Following on from last weekend’s chaotic Austrian Grand Prix, in which track limits dominated proceedings due to drivers consistently exceeding them through the final two corners and triggered multiple penalties, the topic has remained on everyone’s mind for the British Grand Prix.

While the Silverstone circuit isn’t likely to see quite the same problems with excessive violations as the Red Bull Ring, Race Director Niels Wittich has tightened up the rules for the final corner at the British Grand Prix – drivers will have their current and following laps deleted for exceeding them.

Tom Kristensen: Walls, gravel, or grass a better solution

Speaking to select media, including, during the British Grand Prix practice day, multiple Le Mans winner and former FIA steward Tom Kristensen spoke about his frustrations of watching the multiple penalties and post-race penalties applied.

“The way it is at the moment, in Austria, was very frustrating for a driver,” he said.

“I would definitely say that track limits should be taking care of itself.

“I like it, personally, I prefer to have it so you’re slowed down when you’re leaving the track.

“That means that, if it’s the white line that is decided, then that means the kerb, or at least after the kerbs, there is something which slows the cars down.

“Then it depends on if it’s fast, middle or slow speed – whatever –  if it’s gravel, grass, or wall.” recommends

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The Danish racer pointed to the example of the final corner at the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve as being indicative of how hard limits can be set and enforce the driver’s respect of a corner.

“We talked quite a lot a couple of weeks ago in Canada, the Wall of Champions – what a beautiful wall it is!” he said.

“You see drivers who have respect for that. Drivers like to be more in that direction than a white line you can’t see or feel at times.

“So the circuit in Austria, particularly the last few corners at Turns 9 or 10, for a driver to drive to millimetre with a sharp edge on a white line, it’s difficult to respect when you’re under pressure to go faster and you know that you’ll have to hit it spot on every time and when you don’t do that, it’s hard.”

Tom Kristensen urges rethink of track limits enforcement

But Kristensen said the rules have perhaps become a little too much focused on the bureaucratic side of enforcement, and he’s eager to find a balanced compromise that will ensure a better solution for everyone.

“My opinion is also that we probably, likely, or surely have too much – it’s tough to say – but looking too much at safety which compromises the sporting [side] of motorsport in general,” he said.

“That is where we have to backtrack a little bit. But being sensible, being the right way because whatever you put up at the turn, it can also damage the tyre, it could cut the tyre, or hit the car when they had those metal pieces on [the kerbs].

“That’s not what we need. We just need gravel or grass.”

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