(L to R) Max Verstappen, Charles Leclerc, Carlos Sainz, Bahrain International Circuit, 2022

F1 drivers say new race director has made track limits “very clear”

2022 Bahrain Grand Prix

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Formula 1 drivers say the new track limits rules which have been imposed for this weekend’s Bahrain Grand Prix are “very clear” after last year’s confusion.

At the 2021 grand prix, drivers were given different instructions regarding the enforcement of track limits at turn four during qualifying and the race. This caused some confusion and track limits remained a point of contention throughout the season.

However new FIA F1 race director Niels Wittich, one of two people who have replaced Michael Masi in the role during the off-season, has enforced a more straightforward policy this weekend. In his guidance to drivers before the weekend began, Wittich stated simply: “The white lines define the track edges.”

Drivers including Lewis Hamilton and Max Verstappen criticised last year’s arrangement as “confusing”. But the new policy won praise from Verstappen after qualifying yesterday, who described it as “very clear.”

Pole-winner Charles Leclerc concurred. “It has been very clear,” he said. “You just need to have one wheel within the white line, everywhere, which I think is good.”

Turn four is a regular trouble spot for track limits in Bahrain as there is an alternative track route at its exit where there would ordinarily be a kerb. “I would maybe prefer to have the kerb because you feel it a little bit more,” said Leclerc. “But if it’s consistent, the white line is great, too. And it was very clear for me.”

Rookie Zhou Guanyu was the only driver to have a lap time deleted during qualifying yesterday, at turn four, for exceeding track limits. “Unfortunately, my best attempt was deleted,” he said, “I saw the replay and it was really close.”

Carlos Sainz Jnr he was surprised that had happened. “If it was in turn four then I’m surprised because at turn four it’s been very clear to all of us that you cannot go over the white line.”

“For turn four, that is the corner where you gain the most advantage by running wide,” he added.

However track limits have been a bone of contention in other series sharing the track this weekend. In Formula 3, which is overseen by race director Claro Ziegahn, on-the-road winner Oliver Bearman lost his victory to rival Isack Hadjar after being penalised for exceeding track limits.

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Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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28 comments on “F1 drivers say new race director has made track limits “very clear””

  1. Andy (@andyfromsandy)
    20th March 2022, 8:59

    Yet Perez was clearly over the white line. It took Sky sometime to pick it up but Perez kept his lap. He did do another run that was faster so in effect it didn’t matter.

    1. That was strange indeed. Also Sainz was over the line but no action.
      So it’s nice it’s clear now but without trict policing its useless.

      1. Agreed. It needs enforcing.

    2. @andyfromsandy @erikje Perhaps they didn’t really gain anything like Zhou as individual cases can vary.

      1. It’s not about gaining anything, @jerejj.
        It’s about what the rules say and how well they are enforced.

        Out is out.

        1. RandomMallard
          20th March 2022, 12:43

          Agree with this. If they’re outside track limits, the time should go, no matter whether they gain or lose time from it

    3. Perez mentioned post-qualifying that they deleted that lap, so he had to go out and try again. They didn’t show that in the TV feed though.

    4. I assumed as he went back out and did a faster time, it just didn’t matter. I think he’d have lost his time otherwise.

      If they’re going with the white line being out, as the “pinnacle of motorsport”, there is no excuse to not have this monitored with technology. A notification can pop up to say a car left the track, the video assistant people check it out and if it was the driver’s own fault, they notify the race director who removes the lap.

      The same can happen in the race and if they leave the track x amount of times, it’s a drive-through penalty.

      I’m football, video refs cause a huge amount of controversy but the one area they work well is whether the ball has crossed the line or not. It’s automated so there is no human error and that should be done in F1 as well.

    5. Sky got everything wrong. Only thing sky did better than f1’s new commentary team is that they kept up with the tyre info.

  2. Does the penalty only come if the driver gained an advantage or is any and all extra-track activity sanctioned?

    1. Andy (@andyfromsandy)
      20th March 2022, 13:30

      Track limit regulation doesn’t make any mention about whether a driver gets an advantage or not. The driver just has to stay on track.

  3. So very clear that Brundle and Croft didn’t have a clue.
    Last corner didn’t seem to be being policed.

    1. @eurobrun the Last corner has never been policed because going off at that corner is automatically slower than staying on track via slippery surface material besides curbing, the same with T10 & penultimate corner exits.
      T4 is literally the only one where off-track excursions can be advantageous.

      1. No. If there was there a wall there, they’d be leaving margin. They choose not to, and run the risk of running wide.

        It should be enforced without exception.

        1. Its not us to decide. The responsible ones define where and how track limits are handled. As long as all drivers are handled equally its perfectly fine.

          1. Clearly I can’t decide.

            I can voice an opinion on the matter, though.

          2. Andy (@andyfromsandy)
            20th March 2022, 13:32

            The responsible ones define where and how track limits are handled.

            Well the race director said he will be using the regulations and not 3 extra paragraphs of notes. So over the white line is out around all of the circuit.

        2. @bradders Even Masi in the last two seasons didn’t enforce that corner among others knowing the slippery surface material is self-policing. The part about leaving is somewhat inaccurate.

      2. @jerejj well back to my original point, if it’s that clear, you should tell Blundell and Croft! 😂

  4. So if they are only policing certain corners then its no different to last year. The white line may donate the track, but you can still ignore it as Perez and others did? And as they have already done in both F2 and F3.

  5. “Track limits are very clear” – but still being applied selectively.

    The more things change in F1, the more they stay the same.

  6. BLS (@brightlampshade)
    20th March 2022, 12:18

    The rules are very clear, go outside the white lines and your lap time gets deleted…. unless of course it doesn’t.

    I don’t understand all this gaining an advantage blah blah blah. Make it cut and shut, the line is the limit, no ifs no buts and you stop any ambiguity. Make it the same for all corners, all straights, all tracks, end of.

    1. Yup, lap time deleted part, still needs improvement, other than that, go for it.

      Rule is great.

    2. @brightlampshade Redundant when going off is already slower & or where drivers don’t go off anyway like straights.

      1. A lot of rules are redundant @jerejj, but that doesn’t mean they shouldn’t be enforced.

  7. I think race control is waiting for teams to start snitching on each others so they do have to put system in place. /s

  8. “The white lines define the track edges.”

    Brilliant, almost Einsteinian in its simplicity! Sarcasm aside, I mean, yes, that’s all that needs enforcing. I take it that the drivers (camera zooms in on Max Verstappen) understand that means exceeding limits not just for lap time advantages but also for racing?? ‘I couldn’t make the corner and the driver trying to pass me wouldn’t have made it either’ isn’t an excuse.

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