FIA tweaks track limits ahead of F1 US GP after complaints

For the second round in succession, following on from the Qatar GP when 51 lap times were deleted in the main race, track limits have once again been firmly on the agenda.

In the uncompetitive FP1 session on Friday at the Circuit of The Americas in Austin, Texas, when drivers were not necessarily pushing flat out, Autosport understands that 76 lap time were deleted.

Then, most notably, three-time world champion Max Verstappen was pinged for running wide on the exit of Turn 19 in grand prix qualifying to have his fastest Q3 time scrapped.

As a result, despite having initially pipped Ferrari rival Charles Leclerc by 0.005s, he will now start from sixth place on the grid.

This put track limits high on the agenda for the Friday night drivers’ briefing, which has led to the FIA redefining track limits at three corners.

The governing body notes that: “Following discussion with the teams and drivers yesterday we have widened the white line on the outside at Turns 9, 12 and 19 — this is to give the drivers a bit of extra margin at these corners”.

The fatter painted white line now extends significantly over the first part of the exit kerbs.

In theory, the track limits rule presents a firm cut-out. As such, the FIA opens itself up to criticism for amending the parameters against pressure from competitors.


However, the newly painted white lines are seen as a pragmatic short-term solution to avoid repeated track limits abuse creating further controversy while serious offences will still be caught.

This comes as the data system that supports the Remote Operations Centre in Geneva is being refined throughout the season to make the FIA quicker to respond to more marginal cases.

In the first F1 session to run with the track tweaks, qualifying for the Saturday sprint race, only Alpine racer Pierre Gasly troubled the stewards for running wide in Q1.

Verstappen, who topped the shootout over Leclerc and Lewis Hamilton, said of his Friday misdemeanour: “I knew in [Turn] 19 that it was going to be a close call.

“I had a little mistake in Turn 1, so I had to really push for it in the rest of the lap. It is fine margins.

“Honestly, I didn’t even understeer. I just tried to really maximise the corner and I misjudged it by a little bit.

“It’s very fine margins when you’re pushing to the limit.

“Of course, it’s a bit unfortunate but it makes the Sunday also a bit more fun.”

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