F1 drivers propose fixes to Austrian track limits after qualifying breaches

Verstappen beat Leclerc and Sainz to pole position for Sunday's Austrian Grand Prix

For the second year in a row in qualifying for the Austrian Grand Prix, a host of laps were deleted for drivers running too wide from the final two corners – especially in the middle part of the session when Verstappen eventually took the lead.

He then said the problem “almost looked like we were rookies out there” – a suggestion he continued in the post-qualifying press conference.

There, Verstappen and Ferrari pair Leclerc and Carlos Sainz were asked what changes they would make to alleviate the problem in Austria.

“I mean, if you see the amount of lap times that are being taken off today by the amount of drivers, it’s obviously not that easy and I don’t think we’re all that stupid, right?” said Verstappen, who faced no further action for allegedly impeding Kevin Magnussen in Q1.

“Normally we are all good at judging where the limit is.

“This track, because of the layout and the way the tires work, they overheat a little bit in the lap. It’s just very difficult.

“So, most of the tracks I think are fine the way we’re running them, but some tracks we might have to look at [changes]. Right now, there’s no real answer on how to do that.

“But, I think we’ve tried on some tracks to paint a little wider white line, which I think helped a little bit because I think the white line in some places is a little narrow at high speed we reached at that particular corner.

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“It’s something we can look into.”

Verstappen beat Leclerc and Sainz to pole position for Sunday's Austrian Grand Prix

Verstappen beat Leclerc and Sainz to pole position for Sunday’s Austrian Grand Prix

Photo by: Mark Sutton / Motorsport Images

Leclerc agreed the suggestion could help on Austria’s Turn 4 long, downhill right where times can be lost even with a gravel trap near the outside if drivers go too wide.

But he didn’t think the wider white line would help for the controversial Turns 9 and 10 double right sequence that ends the Red Bull Ring lap.

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“Turn 4 is one of those corners that if you’re close to the gravel by a centimeter or two you can get out, which [solution] certainly makes sense [for],” explained Leclerc.

“I don’t know how much it will change for the last sector, because the last sector with high speed there we have to find another solution.”

Leclerc highlighted visibility as the main problem through Turn 10, where he explained “the nature of the corner is that the car becomes lighter in the middle of the corner because there is this drop in the track”.

“Then, however the car was positioned there it had a big influence on the exit and from where we were so low in the car, we couldn’t see anything,” he added.

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“The helmet cam is very representative of what we see and we don’t see the white lines.

“Hopefully in the future on tracks like this we can have a little more margin and they understand that from the car it’s just impossible to judge.”

Sainz suggested that to help drivers with visibility problems here, maybe “if we can even feel the white line. [when] we are on top or not that will also help us in judging”.

The controversial sausage curbs were removed from the final corner after the 2019 race

The controversial sausage curbs were removed from the final corner after the 2019 race

Photo by: Zak Mauger / Motorsport Images

Verstappen suggested the decision to remove the “stupid” little yellow sausage curbs from the final corners ahead of the 2020 race in Austria was a good idea because it “just breaks the car”, even if it represents a physical preventing drivers from driving. the limits of the track, which are then set to the curbs behind the white lines.

He also lamented that even adding temporary gravel traps at the final turns here would likely be prohibitive on cost grounds, with permanent gravel at those corners not possible because “the bikes [MotoGP] I do not like that”.

“You also don’t like the promoters or the track in general if they put gravel [temporarily] and then they have to remove it again, it also costs a lot of money,” added Verstappen.

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“So, it’s not really a good solution either. This is something we will discuss again at the drivers’ meeting and maybe we can find a solution.”

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Leclerc suggested that F1 going back to allowing painted curbs to define the limit of the track could be a solution at this track.

From the start of 2022, the FIA ​​removed the ambiguity and inconsistency in the previous F1 track limits debate by insisting that the white line always defines the edge of the track at each circuit and cannot be placed by drivers all four wheels in that line even running the curbs behind. .

“My personal preference is to use the red and white curb [as the track limit],” said Leclerc.

“I think that’s what we did for a few years here and it worked well because at least we got a sense of where the limit of the track is wherever you are on that red and white curb – you can feel that you’re there.

“And it’s a good reference. The white line is only visual and we don’t see it. So, it’s very easy to be 5cm from the white line, whereas the curb you can feel where you are and it’s a little easier to judge.”

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