Following the race at Austin a fortnight ago, there were allegations that some drivers had taken liberties with abusing the track limits at areas of the track that were not heavily policed.
On-board footage of several cars that were being distributed among teams especially showed a number of drivers being well beyond the track edge white lines at Turn 6 of the Circuit of the Americas.
These incidents had largely escaped scrutiny from the FIA as they were not flagged up in the official list of track limits breaches throughout the Austin race.
The images were enough, however, to prompt several teams to query with the FIA at the recent Mexico Grand Prix about why what appeared to be obvious track limit breaches had not been looked at.
It is understood that the FIA’s response was in line with what stewards stated in the aftermath of the US GP.
It admitted that the CCTV cameras and monitoring infrastructure at that corner were not sufficient to properly police track limits as accurately as is needed, so it could not take matters further.
This had been already highlighted at the Austin race when Williams driver Alex Albon escaped without punishment for multiple breaches of track limits at Turn 6 – beyond the five-second penalty he had been handed for other offences.
Photo by: Glenn Dunbar / Motorsport Images
Alex Albon, Williams FW45
The stewards, explaining why they had not sanctioned Albon despite on-board footage indicating he was over the line, said: “Based on the video footage available (which did not include CCTV), the Stewards determine, whilst there might be some indication for possible track limit infringements in Turn 6, the evidence at hand is not sufficient to accurately and consistently conclude that any breaches occurred and therefore take no further action.”
But the FIA’s argument that monitoring at Turn 6 was not good enough to judge track limits offences has not satisfied Haas, which has now formally submitted a request with the governing body for the matter to be reviewed.
As first revealed by German publication Auto Motor Und Sport, it is understood that as part of its request Haas has submitted detailed on-board images, from both the cars involved and those following them, to highlight alleged multiple rules breaches.
The drivers involved in the matter are believed to include Sergio Perez, Albon, Logan Sargeant and Lance Stroll.
Any sanctions for these drivers could prove critical in shuffling the race order that would potentially move Haas driver Nico Hulkenberg up the order – so could have a significant impact in the constructors’ championship fight.
The FIA has acknowledged receipt of the right of review request and will now reconvene the stewards of the United States Grand Prix to consider the matter.
It is understood that this meeting will take place next week, where the first decision made will be whether or not Haas has supplied enough new evidence to fulfil the requirement for an actual right of review hearing.
The FIA’s statutes are clear that there needs to be fresh evidence available to go through with any official review.
Photo by: Andy Hone / Motorsport Images
Nico Hulkenberg, Haas F1 Team in Parc Ferme
Article 14.1.1 of the FIA International Sporting Code states: “If, in Competitions forming part of an FIA Championship, cup, trophy, challenge or series, or of an international series, a significant and relevant new element is discovered which was unavailable to the parties seeking the review at the time of the decision concerned, the stewards who have given a ruling or, failing this, those designated by the FIA, may decide to re-examine their decision following a petition for review.”
While Haas has pulled together detailed video evidence of the track limits breaches, it is unclear if the FIA will accept this as a ‘new element’, since race stewards have full access to on-board cameras during grand prix events.
Furthermore, the camera angle from on-boards alone is not enough to properly judge a track limits breach as it does not offer a view of all four wheels in relation to the white lines.
In the wake of what happened at Austin, the FIA has made it clear that it will make sure that ramp up the attention it pays to track limit breaches at corners where problems like Turn 6 arise.
A spokesman for the governing body said: “The FIA will update its monitoring infrastructure to provide enhanced coverage to ensure that any potential breaches can reliably be identified during the race in future.”