F1 drivers speak on the track limits situation and why is it hard to keep up with it in current times and how can they deal with it.

As the tracks have moved on from gravel traps to tarmac run-offs, the track limits debates have increased where F1 drivers take extra liberty to utilise every inch of the circuit to gain some extra time in the quest to finish as far ahead as possible.

Every drivers’ briefing see the track limits topic getting discussed especially for tracks where it is very prominent. The first half saw Red Bull Ring in the headlines where the stewards cancelled a lot of lap times, which irked the F1 drivers a lot.

Even though the FIA Race Directors’ denote white line as the clear mark, but still there are arguments against it. A lot has been tried to force the drivers to follow that but sometimes it goes in vain. They even install fancy kerbs, but safety situation creates issues.

There is no simple solution to the the problem as it is not easy to bring back gravel trap at every F1 circuit in current times. The white line is perhaps the best solution, but certain tracks have limitations to that too.

Here’s what the F1 drivers make of it:

Sebastian Vettel: “Because we are trying to go as fast as possible. No? Is that not fair? I think if we were all taking it easy, then it would be easy, but we are going as fast as we can and mistakes can happen or sometimes it’s very difficult to judge, you know, to judge five centimetres or 10 centimetres from the inside of the car where you don’t actually see the lines. So I think given that we can’t see much, we’re doing pretty well. I think if we are out, and if we are really out by a metre or more, then I think it’s something went wrong, but if we’re out by a couple of centimetres still a very good judgement but obviously not good enough.”

Charles Leclerc: “I think the best probably, or me personally what I prefer was the kerb, because the kerb you could actually feel it. Sometimes last year we used the kerb as a reference for the track limits and that you can actually feel it on the steering wheel and also when you are on the limit of the kerb you can also feel it. So it’s much easier to be very, very precise. With the white line we are so low that as Seb said, five centimetres out and you don’t really realise it as a driver. So it makes it tricky. But I might think we just have to deal with it this weekend because there are no real kerbs here. So yeah, it’s going to be tricky.”

Lando Norris: “Judging the exact position of your car within a few centimetres when you’re going whatever speeds it’s just not an easy thing to do, especially when you have wind involved or you’re following cars and you hit a kerb or something or bump. Judging it so precisely is just a very difficult thing to do. And when you’re sitting centimetres off the ground…. And especially with this year’s car compared to last year’s. Your first judgement is obviously a visual of where you can actually see the line and you can only see the extra racetrack probably like 10, 15 metres in front of you, that’s the first chance you actually get to see the actual track.

“You use that as a judgement but then you also just use your feeling of where you think you are. And when you’re in the car, when you’re reacting to things, judging things by such a small margin is tough. It’s part of it but it’s tough. It’s frustrating sometimes, like obviously I was one of the guys who got the penalties. It’s nice when you have gravel because there’s a limit there. If you’re in the gravel you’ve made the mistake and you lose a lot of time. You have a sausage kerb at the exit of Turn 1 in Austria and if you go over it you lose time. But like the last few corners if you go off, you go off. So I understand it, it’s just you wish there was just gravel on the exit of every corner and if you go off then you’re in the gravel and that’s your penalty.”

Nicholas Latifi: “I mean, I think the simple answer is like Seb said, because you’re trying to go faster and if you don’t try and push those extra millimetres or centimetres then somebody else will and you might lose a little bit. But yeah, I guess the first thing the driver will use is the kind of visual reference, and it does depend corner to corner, there’s a lot of tracks that you can very easily see the white line from the approach of the entry to the corner. And there’s a lot of tracks where you can’t. I mean, naturally, if there’s a wall at the exit, like on street track, there’s less track limits offenses, because you could see the wall from the entry often. So it is, naturally, as a driver, you’re taking much more margin when there’s a wall at the exit, but you also visually see the wall much better, which in some cases, as we’re saying, you don’t often see the white line, whereas you could feel a kerb.

“And yeah, I just think there’s some instances, some corners, where there is very natural track limits where, you know, there probably shouldn’t be track limits for specific corners. Like, just in Red Bull Ring, for example, the exit of Turn 6, I think Lando maybe got a warning, was it in qualifying or a lap deleted when he dipped his wheel in the gravel, but he still went off the track. And that’s one corner where I think all the drivers would agree that we don’t really need track limits in that corner. Likewise Turn 12 in Barcelona, I know my team-mate got penalty points for doing that, which is a bit of an extreme consequence for just going a little bit wide in a corner where there’s such a natural track limit anyway. So yeah, it is tougher than it looks. But again, it is kind of black and white now, and it’s just tricky to manage sometimes.”

Zhou Guanyu: “Yeah, obviously, I was one of the guys that got a penalty as well, like Lando. And it was quite difficult for me in Austria I was just trying to judge where my wheel was, because I was getting, basically, the warnings, even though I was thinking I was inside the track limit. But then yeah, you get stuck behind a car for almost the whole race. It was very tough with the dirty air. Especially in Turn 1, like sometimes I would go onto the sausage kerb. But you know, sometimes when you’re on top of it, or just by clipping it, it is a matter of, you will be over it if you just riding right on top of it, just by clipping it you just get away of it, on the edge.

“So it’s difficult to judge but I agree with Nick. I mean, it’s kind of black white now. So I don’t think we can change it in a very short term but you know, some corners, maybe they can reduce the restrictions on track limits that you don’t gain that much like a thing. Yeah, I think Turn 7 or something like that. It’s kind of, I mean, everybody takes exactly the same line and you don’t get anything, there’s no danger. So it’s made life more difficult, especially when you do 71 laps in Austria following a car but apart from that I mean we all have to deal with it.”

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