Despite some driver complaints in Austria, ex-F1 racer turned pundit Martin Brundle fully supports the FIA getting tough on track limits.
As Formula 1 descended on the Red Bull Ring, Race Control decided they would strictly enforce track limits, deleting a plethora of lap times across the race weekend – including demoting Sergio Perez from P4 to P13 on the sprint grid after deleting his final Q2 time and all from Q3 post-session.
Sebastian Vettel, Pierre Gasly, Lando Norris and Zhou Guanyu all received five-second penalties during the race, with 43 laps chalked off for drivers going out of bounds.
In addition, the top three of Charles Leclerc, Max Verstappen and Lewis Hamilton were investigated post-race, with their respective teams found to have sent personnel to attend to their drivers before the weighing procedure, resulting in a trio of €10,000 suspended fines for the teams.
Verstappen called track limits in Austria “a joke” and Norris said some of his strikes were a “bit stupid“, but Brundle, while sympathising with the drivers, believes the FIA are right to create a clear field of play and reward good, accurate driving.
In his column for Sky Sports F1, Brundle wrote: “While the stewards at Silverstone were generally forgiving and liberally applying the ‘let them race’ mantra regarding track limits and defensive tactics, a week later the letter of the regulations was being applied.
“To a large extent I fully support that, and let me explain why. There was much ridicule that 43 separate incidents of track limits violations were reported by the FIA in the race, with several five-second penalties applied.
“Corners one, nine and 10 were being observed (Turn 8 where Perez was penalised in qualifying did not get a mention) and so a 20-car field in a 71-lap race can pass through those three corners up to 4,260 times, meaning 43 infringements is not exactly extreme.
“The well-used lines of ‘if it wasn’t faster they wouldn’t be out there’ and ‘if there were barriers instead of lines they wouldn’t be hitting them’ still apply.
“I totally sympathise with the drivers because peering out of the high cockpit sides of these very large cars, through the Halo and past those weird front wheel fairings at up to 150mph, it’s not at all easy to determine if your wholly out-of-view tyre contact patches are on or marginally over the white lines.
“But we must have a defined field of play and fairness. Skill and accuracy should be rewarded providing we have consistency. If you can’t keep your car fully on the track then leave a margin.
“It’s the same in parc ferme when the top three were reported to the stewards post-race. It means ‘closed park’ until such time as the cars are checked and the drivers are weighed to ensure legality. Nobody should be in there from a team.
“It’s readily accepted by absolutely everyone that if your car is a fraction wider, a fraction lighter or the engine a fraction bigger than the regulations state then you will be summarily excluded.
“If the FIA are having a phase of tightening up on all the other regulations then I support that, and saying we should simply ignore track limits because it’s annoying makes no sense at all – so long as it’s consistently applied, and F1 can surely afford the resource to have the tools to clearly define this critical aspect for fans and all.”
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