Formula 1 Racing

F1 drivers subject to track walk “bike ban”

Lando Norris, McLaren, cycles the track

The track walk has long been an established part of grand prix weekends as drivers and their engineers complete a lap as they discuss the challenges of the weekend ahead.

The track walk period has a place on the official weekend timetable, and in Jeddah it was listed as 1pm-4.30pm on Thursday, although there’s also a slot later in the evening when the track is usually open to anyone.

Despite its name, some drivers prefer to view the track on bicycles, but that is no longer possible.

With the advent of electric bikes and scooters, the track was becoming increasingly hectic during the walk period, especially when support events like F2 and F3 were on the bill, and a line has now been drawn to ban any form of wheeled transport.

During the recent Bahrain GP weekend, a letter was issued to the teams from FOM, which as the event organiser has responsibility for the track between official sessions.

The note read: “To clarify and to avoid future misunderstanding, the use of any means of transport (bicycles, e-bikes, scooters, e-scooters, etc) is forbidden during the time window stated as ‘Team Track Walks’ on the Event Timetable. No exceptions will be allowed. This decision has been agreed with the FIA.”

Lando Norris, McLaren, cycles the track

Photo by: Glenn Dunbar / Motorsport Images

Despite the reference to the governing body as the note came from FOM and not the FIA, it remains to be seen what, if any, punishment could be handed down to any transgressors.

Asked by if he’d had a chance to view the Jeddah track changes, Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc made it clear that he wasn’t happy with the new edict.

“I didn’t walk around,” he said. “And as I think they’ve just issued a new thing where we cannot go around the track with a bicycle you probably won’t see me around the track anymore, and I’ll just watch the videos!”

In Saudi Arabia, team track walks were further compromised by the track being closed by F1 for filming on Thursday evening at a time when some teams would normally do their walks, obliging them to change schedules and go earlier, and in some cases without their drivers who were busy with other duties.

Nico Hulkenberg noted: “I wanted to do it now, but they blocked the track, and it’s all gone wrong now! I’ll watch the safety car, and I’ll see it tomorrow.”

The filming concerned was for a music video for an upcoming new single from rapper Will.I.Am, whose crew shot scenes at various points…

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