Formula 1 Racing

Has F1 managed to snatch defeat from victory on Austria track limits?

Has F1 managed to snatch defeat from victory on Austria track limits?

Oscar Piastri’s spectacular post-Austrian Grand Prix qualifying rant has put the focus back on Formula 1’s track limit problem at the Red Bull Ring.

This reached a farcical point in 2023, when the FIA was left unable to police about 1,200 potential track limits abuses during the main race here, before the governing body and the track embarked on a major effort to fix the issue for 2024.

New, small gravel traps were installed at the final corners, which can be revised when the track is hosting motorbike events, with some track-defining white lines repainted.

One of these additional spots was at Turn 6, where Piastri was judged to have run too wide on his last Q3 lap on Saturday afternoon and his subsequent time deletion dropped him from third to seventh in the final qualifying order.

Afterwards, he didn’t hold back, calling the situation “embarrassing” in an interview with Sky Sports F1.

“We do all this work for track limits, put gravel in in places, and I mean I didn’t even go off the track,” he added. “I stayed on the track and [it was] probably my best Turn 6 and it gets deleted.

“I don’t know why they’ve spent hundreds of thousands, if not millions, trying to change the last two corners when you still have corners [where] you can go off.

“But, anyway, everyone else kept it in the track – I didn’t. That’s how it goes.”

Piastri then doubled down on his comments, with further explanation that when he said he’d stayed on-track, he actually meant not clipping the gravel running wide at Turn 6, as Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc was about to do behind.

“There is no reason this corner should be an issue for track limits,” Piastri added. “Especially when you stay on the track, like I did. Or, not in the gravel.

“So, yeah, for me obviously being the only one that’s had that happen to me, I’m probably more vocal about it right now.

“But I think it’s embarrassing that you see us pushing right to the limit of what we can do and if I’m 1cm more I’m in the gravel and completely ruined my lap anyway and it gets deleted.”

There are a few ways of looking at this.

The first is that it’s wonderful to hear Piastri offering his full and frank views on a contentious issue, after he’d deliberatively avoided saying anything that might make a potential headline after the way his F1 promotion had been handled in 2022. That’s how McLaren went to court to prove it had secured his…

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