Martin Brundle has been discussing track limits after they once again came into play during the United States Grand Prix.
Having set a time worthy of pole, Max Verstappen saw his quali lap deleted after he exceeded track limits on Turn 19. The Dutchman is not the first to fall foul of this rule and will most likely not be the last this season but it has becoming increasingly prevalent in recent years.
With an FIA determined to stick to the rule book, Sky pundit and former racer Brundle has suggested one alternative that could stop the problem.
Martin Brundle proposes solution to ‘ugly’ track limits problem
At some circuits, there is a natural deterrent for exceeding track limits whether that be gravel, grass or even a wall at the street tracks but for the majority of race venues this season, large run-off areas accompany many turns meaning drivers suffer next to no negatives for going too far wide.
That is of course in a driving sense; the consequence of doing so from a rule sense is very real with the FIA more keen these days to enforce the track limits rule, stating that if no part of the car is over the white line then the lap will be deleted.
A number of qualifying sessions have had the words ‘track limits’ associated with them this season but races too have found that particular rule cropping up. In Austria, an additional 12 track limits penalties were handed out hours after the chequered flag and in the most recent grand prix, Alex Albon picked up an additional five seconds onto his time for failing to keep it within the white lines.
Brundle, who was at that race as part of his media duties, noted the rising frequency of the problem
“Track limits reared its ugly head again, as they always do at COTA, and pretty much everywhere these days,” he wrote in his Sky column,
“The white lines defining the edge of the racetrack in the three most critical corners were cheekily widened overnight on Friday, and this meant that in the race there were 35 recorded track limit infringements in the eight corners monitored. Given 17 cars finished the 56-lap race, those corners were navigated successfully over 7,600 times, to put it in perspective.
“The conundrum remains the same, drivers will always push the outer limits because it’s faster. High kerbs can damage cars and tyres, and launch them dangerously into the air. Big tarmac run off areas give options to avoid incidents and keep cars in the race, and avoid safety cars and red flags. There wasn’t even a yellow flag let alone a safety car in the race.
“All the support race categories in Austin had more lenient interpretations of track limits and it didn’t look especially professional, and certainly not acceptable in F1. It’s a problem that’s easily fixed with the unyielding walls and barriers of a street circuit, but much more difficult for the many different circuits of the world. Specific and more colourfully painted zones which must be driven over and have sensors or a permanent camera observing for instant feedback may be one solution.”
One solution Bundle was not willing to accept though was letting the drivers decide for themselves where the track ends.
“The drivers are clearly struggling to see the painted white lines at high speed while peering out of a cluttered cockpit, so bright zones and a touch more leeway would help reduce the issue. Something slippery and uninviting just the other side of the kerb may have to be a solution.
“Turn one in Abu Dhabi interests me because there’s a slight drop down onto the run-off area which compromises the drivers into the high speed turns two and three, and so they tend to be more accurate there. Whatever the fix, letting drivers make up their own racetrack is not one of them.”