Formula 1 Racing

Despite Piastri’s frustration, Red Bull Ring’s track limits solution is working · RaceFans

Carlos Sainz Jnr, Ferrari, Red Bull Ring, 2024

The FIA urged the operators of the Red Bull Ring to solve the persistent track limits problems which turned last year’s race into a farce.

The sport’s governing body had to investigate over a thousand suspected infringements, identified scores which were missed during the race, and handed out a dozen penalties to drivers after the chequered flag dropped.

Finally, the Red Bull Ring succumbed to the pressure to add gravel traps at the final two corners. And the execution has been spot-on.

Already at other tracks this year gravel traps have been added or expanded to reduce the possibility drivers can gain an advantage by going off the track. Shanghai, Imola and Catalunya have all sported various tweaks.

Running wide in the last two corners offers no advantage

Not all of them have got the balance quite right, however. While some have added gravel traps which border the edge of the track, they are often separated from the white line which defines its limit by wide kerbs. As those kerbs can measure up to two metres across – the same size as an F1 car – drivers have found it is still possible to go beyond the track limits and gain an advantage, either by avoiding the gravel trap or brushing it so lightly they can still avoid losing time.

But turns nine and ten at the Red Bull Ring, once a textbook example of how not to police track limits, are now a model other tracks should copy. Not only because the strips of gravel on the outside discourages drivers from running wide, but because the narrower kerbs (engineered by painting over the inside part) mean drivers cannot fully cross the white line without ruining their lap time.

As a result, track limits infringements at these two corners during qualifying fell to almost nothing. In qualifying for the grand prix last year 45 track limits infringements occured at these two corners. This year there was only one, for Charles Leclerc who spun off and ruined his lap.

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Nonetheless the end of qualifying was overshadowed by a row over track limits. Oscar Piastri lost what would have been third on the grid when his final flying lap of 1’04.786 was deleted as the stewards ruled he went beyond track limits at turn six.

Wider turn six kerb creates opportunity for infringements
Wider turn six kerb creates opportunity for infringements

As the stewards rejected McLaren’s appeal as inadmissible, we’ll never know how they might have ruled had the facts of the decision been tested. However images of the incident show…

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