Drivers and team principals agree that ‘amateurish’ track limit farce ‘can never happen again’

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Picture Credits Red Bull Content Pool

During a weekend steeped in controversy over track limit violations, further penalties were handed out even after the race ended. As a result of this, team principals and drivers have aired their concern. Whether it be Zak Brown saying it can never happen again, Christian Horner saying it makes the sport look amateurish or the blunt response from Kevin Magnussen that it is ‘bul$!%’ – everyone seems to have something to say about F1’s latest hot topic.

Last Sunday’s Austrian Grand Prix saw a host of drivers handed 5 second penalties for exceeding track limits – and that was before the chequered flag fell. During the race, more than 80 laps were deleted for track limit infringements but the drama didn’t stop there.

F1 race results are always preliminary until a classified check but when it was announced, in the hours after the race concluded, that Race Control had revised results after reviewing more than 1,200 instances where a car was reported to have potentially left the track – the sport was in unknown territory. Five hours after the chequered flag was waved at the Red Bull Ring, the revised race results were released and with it came the announcement that further penalties had been handed to more than half the starting grid.

McLaren’s Lando Norris saw himself promoted to P4 as a result of this revision but despite this, his team boss Zak Brown told reporters this past Monday that this situation cannot happen again.

“We can’t have it again. We can’t have a race and five hours later you have that degree of change and penalties. It definitely wasn’t ideal what happened yesterday, that’s stating the obvious [but] it has no long-term impact because I don’t think it will ever happen.” Brown said.

Comments on the issue of track limits had already been heard on Sunday when Red Bull Racing team principal Christian Horner had stated how he felt it did not cover F1 in glory.

“I think it made us as a sport look a little bit, um, when you’ve got so many infringements it’s a bit amateurish. I think that with a strip of gravel or something as a deterrent to run out there. The problem is, it’s very difficult for the drivers they can’t see the white line from the car seat so they’re just purely doing it from feel and the circuit invites you to go there. So, I think that is something that needs to be looked at for next year to perhaps add more of a deterrent for the drivers to be drawn onto that part of the circuit.” suggested Horner.


Gravel is unsurprisingly always considered as an option but then swiftly rejected due to Moto GP requirements. A fact Horner is well aware of as shown in his recent remarks.

“Maybe gravel, something like that. I mean the argument is always the Moto GP but I think you know you gotta have something that’s flexible purely for Formula One only.

“We’ve got some very capable engineers you know in this business and the collectiveness – perhaps it’s maybe just the trajectory of the corner where the actual white line is…it’s very easy to say from a binary point of view you’re either in or you’re out but I think that sometimes you gotta look at the characteristics of a corner as well and I think that for sure if there was a gravel line there the driver wouldn’t go there – wouldn’t be tempted to go there.” concluded Horner.

Motorsport publication Speedcafe has announced that motorsport’s governing body has now called on bosses at Red Bull Ring to install gravel traps. A suggestion that was previously put forward by Michael Masi when the Australian was race director and has also been reiterated by one of his successors, Niels Wittich – but was never implemented.

Sunday’s situation was already being predicted after Friday’s qualifying had seen many drivers sanctioned for exceeding track limits. One such driver who was guilty of this was McLaren racer Oscar Piastri and the Australian explained the ‘tricky’ situation that drivers had been facing.

“On the first lap, when you’re following someone very closely, you can easily lose half a metre, let alone a few centimetres off your line, and it’s tricky to manage that…But it’s never fun to have to go through a race and work out who’s got penalties, and in qualifying, crossing the line, and then waiting for a minute to see if you’re in or out because of track limits.

“Obviously, I know it’s the same for everyone but we can try and do things to make the spectacle better for everyone. As drivers, and for everyone watching on TV – and we have to account for MotoGP who use the track as well – we have to come up with a better solution.” claimed Piastri.

F1 drivers are always on the limit – if not beyond it. They do this in the pursuit of success as well as entertainment. But the sport is in danger of becoming a victim of its own success.

The spotlight has never shone brighter on F1 and it is also shining on these farcical scenes which maybe would have just been accepted in years gone by. Even so, there is a widely held belief, by the drivers at least, that the enforcement of rules this past weekend was ‘super too harsh’

Seven-time F1 Drivers’ World Champion Sir Lewis Hamilton found himself dropped down to P8 after further penalties post race – despite crossing the line in P7. In comments published by RacingNews365, the former F1 Drivers’ Champion shared his thoughts on the situation.

“I think they need to probably find a new solution for this track. Years ago when we didn’t have the track limit thing it was much more enjoyably to drive.” Hamilton said. “It’s strange to be driving and have to have to comment on the car ahead, because that’s what the team wants you to do. They did it in Barcelona, but it’s not racing right?”

Yuki Tsunoda was handed two sanctions during Sunday’s Austrian Grand Prix and then received a third 5-second penalty in the hours after the race concluded.

“I got a warning, but some of the track limits I didn’t feel like I was outside of the white line,” Tsunoda told media. “I know they were being super too harsh or whatever. But like some of those, frankly, I don’t feel I was outside of the white line.” However, this viewpoint was contradicted by Oscar Piastri who told reporters “I heard Tsunoda had 10-second penalty, and I think he was lucky enough not to get a few more to be honest.”

Always one to provide a good soundbite, Haas F1 Team’s Kevin Magnussen told Kevin Magnussen was clear in his evaluation: “It’s a fun track, but it’s bulls**t when it’s like that.” He then continued to share his wider concern. “It ruins the whole thing. You can’t push. It’s better when there’s just a natural limit. I actually think this track does have a natural limit, with these low cars and these big curves. You wouldn’t be going fast if you went over, but you can kind of go to all the way to the limit of that second curve, and then you get the track limits offence, so I think it’s unnecessary. I know that the FIA is looking looking at a better solution.”

Mercedes- AMG Petronas Formula One Team boss Toto Wolff clearly feels he has the solution to the problem – or rather two solutions. Neither of which mentioned the ‘unfavourable to Moto GP gravel option’ – though only one to surely be taken seriously.

“Everybody really is in the worst possible situation, with the regulations and the race-track and the FIA trying to enforce them to the best of their ability…You can either come back to sausage kerbs and break the drivers and the cars, or just remove [track limits] overall and let them race the fastest line.

“We need to find a solution for the interest of the track, which is a super and traditional track, and for the stakeholders because we want to achieve spectacular racing that is not influenced by penalties given for the right reasons.” Wolff stated.

There is obviously no simple solution – otherwise it would have been implemented already. There is clearly no way to find a solution which will suit every category of motorsport that races around the Red Bull Ring. However, with F1 bigger than it has ever been, no one involved in the sport wants a repeat of Sunday. Nevertheless, safe to assume the producers of Drive to Survive are not too disappointed by the recent events as it will surely make a superb episode – just one that we hopefully don’t see repeated next season.