Were all four wheels over the white line? So, he’s permitted to go wide at turn-4 but if he tries the same thing at turn-7, he’ll get a penalty? What’s the point in laying the road if they can just use the run-off area as part of the track?
These are some of the questions that are floating around the track limits debate. Chapter-four of the mind-numbing regulation gob-offs. We’ve had the Qualifying format reassessment, radio restriction lift, halo-safety wars and now an argument about what is and isn’t the track. It’s starting to get silly. Is there anyone with a clear vision and a capacity to lead the sport in a uniform, simple manner that doesn’t alienate or confuse the fan-base?
Why does it need to be complicated? Focused on changing what doesn’t need to be fixed? All of these decisions have been seemingly rushed into only to serve the purpose of making FOM hold relevance for the sake of relevance.
For the sake of variety, Red Bull boss Christian Horner and Sky F1 analyst Martin Brundle have chipped in with some sense on the issue.
Christian Horner said,
“I think the problem is that you cannot take it corner by corner. My frustration is: come up with something simple.
There is a white line that goes all the way around the circuit – and one very easy way of doing it is if you have all four wheels over that line, you are out. In other sports it seems to work, be it with a ball or a foot – whatever it may be.
There is a reluctance to have done that, which is fair enough, but if there is a reluctance to do that then you have to allow the drivers to use what is there. You cannot have one rule for Turn 1 and another rule for Turn 17 – otherwise that is too confusing for us within a paddock, let alone for the fans.
That for me isn’t clear and we need to move away from. Either come up with something simple or let them do what they like.”
– Christian Horner
Martin Brundle offered a similar outlook, saying,
“I consider myself an F1 fan, and although I would never presume to speak for fans, I know from social media and meeting many that this issue frustrates enormously in terms of clarity and consistency.
Toto and Christian said over the weekend that drivers should be free to make their own line if it was faster because that’s more exciting. Where on earth will that end if they can just make their own track up? We have to have a defined track just like any other sports arena needs defining and refereeing. And the easiest thing for all to see are the two white lines at each edge of the track.
Otherwise speeds will be much higher in reduced run-off areas taking cars nearer to the barriers and grandstands, and which have surfaces not suitable for regular use. Eventually these run-offs will become rubbered-in and the standard line. In Hockenheim, we saw broken suspensions again and flying cars, and a host of expensive new under floors fitted for race day. And then we hear all about safety. This is madness.”
– Martin Brundle
The solution would probably lie in reintroducing traditional gravel traps and grassy areas right next to the white lines on tracks that have ridiculous run-off areas. Turn-1 in Hockenheim was an issue as drivers hurtled all four-wheels over the kerb lap after lap. There used to be gravel there and there wasn’t a problem with track limits back then.
Again, these issues wouldn’t be debatable if something was implemented. Those in charge of the regulatory body need to confirm what they want the sport to be – A world-leading racing series, or a masterclass in disenfranchising fans.