F1 drivers agree that visibility from the car is not so good but penalties for such is a bit on the harsher side as FIA seemingly has acted upon it.
The opening two F1 Grands Prix at Bahrain and Saudi Arabia saw an interesting, and some might say amusing scenario where Esteban Ocon was penalised for placing his car incorrectly in its position on the grid for the opening race. At Saudi Arabia, Fernando Alonso then received a five second penalty for starting too far to the left of his grid place.
In fairness, there was not an advantage to be gained by the Spaniard starting where he did. It’s an interesting issue and so much so, George Russell, one of the F1 GPDA directors, feels it to be an odd situation too which perhaps will need discussions in their briefing to understand what can be done about it.
“I understand why these rules are there,” said Russell. “At the end of the day, we’ve got to stick within the guidelines. I think a little bit of common sense needs to be shown and ultimately, I think Alonso was a bit to the left. He gained nothing from this. Perhaps a five second penalty is too much”.
“I guess, it is frustrating for everybody. There’s a lot of conversations that were going on in Saudi Arabia about which lines you could touch, which lines you couldn’t touch, especially at the pit exit, and on the pit entry. And then as I said there too, we saw a number of cars get laps deleted for touching a bit of the red paint, ending their lap”.
“I just thought that was a little bit senseless, really, so I think we all need to come together and just find a common centre ground,” summed up Russell. The issue really comes down to how difficult it is to see one’s grid box from a Grand Prix car. It must not be forgotten and realised that drivers sit very low in the cars, a fact not lost on Russell himself.
“It’s incredibly difficult,” Russell continued. “We’re sat so low and to put some perspective, we only see probably the top four or five inches of the tyre so you can’t actually see the ground itself. We’ve got these big long yellow lines pointing out… I can’t even see the yellow line, let alone the white lines determining your lateral position”.
“It’s really, really tough so that’s why I think in this regard we need to show a little bit more common sense.” He was not the only one with the idea, Red Bulls’ Max Verstappen agreed with him in terms of visibility but he reckons it is same as the white line rule for track limits that is placed for the F1 drivers.
“It is painful when it happens but it’s a bit the same with the white line with track limits,” said Verstappen. “Sometimes you argue: did you gain anything going wide or not, going outside of it? I think at one point we do need a rule. It looks really silly if people start to take advantage of going really left and right but yeah, I didn’t know what we can do better”.
“The visibility is just really poor in the car, that is I think, probably the main issue where you end up sometimes not fully, correctly in your box,” summed up Verstappen, whose Red Bull F1 teammate Sergio Perez concurred with the visibility portion.
“It’s really difficult just to see where you’ve stopped,” said Perez. “I think, in my opinion I just overdid it and I stopped too early, but you have no idea when you are in the car. You don’t know if you went too far or from behind or too far forward. So I think it’s something… we need better visibility to be able to come up with a better idea than we currently have it”.
“It’s good that there is a rule in place, but at the same time, sometimes it’s like luck, to be honest, where you position yourself,” summed up Perez. It’s interesting that the opening rounds have seen an issue occur at both races and it’s an area which as the F1 drivers concur is difficult to get correct from the point of view of visibility.
But nevertheless, the penalties has resulted in some change as the FIA has widened each pit box by 20cms, taking into account the opening two races incidents from the Australian GP onward and a move which should end the saga.
Wider grid slots for #AustralianGP https://t.co/rvfxYlNV0N pic.twitter.com/eQ4jrhZWPl
— Craig Scarborough (@ScarbsTech) March 29, 2023
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