Formula 1 has been talking about track limits for years, but this season it has reached a new height, with a failed protest from Haas as the final chapter. The race stewards of the United States Grand Prix were summoned again and rejected the protest, adding that they also believe it is high time the FIA did a better job.
In three weekends this season it was the talk of the weekend: earlier this season, the circuits in Austria and Qatar were already blamed by FIA president Mohammed Ben Sulayem, who indicated that these two circuits had to solve the problem themselves, or that they took the risk that they would disappear from the Formula 1 calendar.
Then it happened again in Austin. That the lines were frequently tested was already expected, and that turn six would be one of the corners where the edge was sought, which should not be called entirely surprising given the past and the layout of the circuit. but the FIA still proved unable to properly control the track limits. A few years ago, the governing body hoped to provide a permanent solution by maintaining the white line as a boundary in every corner on every circuit, but at the Circuit of the Americas the FIA proved unable to actually determine this.
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The teams and drivers of course soon got that through two qualifyings and two races, and so there were more and more drivers who deliberately cut the circuit in turn six. Haas’ investigation focused on Sergio Pérez, Alexander Albon, Lance Stroll, and Logan Sargeant, but McLaren driver Lando Norris admitted in Mexico that he was also guilty of it and that Max Verstappen did too, as the drivers knew there would be no punishments.
It also makes race stewards despondent
The FIA rejected the protest because it did not accept the onboard images as significant and relevant new information, which means that the chance of success of a right of review remains woefully low. As the thirtieth and final point of their statement, the stewards added a number of striking comments, addressed to the FIA. ‘Despite the formal outcome of this decision, the stewards have seen clear individual evidence of potential track limit violations at the apex of turn six. The stewards consider the inability to maintain current track limit standards to be seriously inadequate.”
There was no doubt from the photo material that the four drivers in question had indeed been outside the circuit. ‘We therefore strongly recommend to all involved that a solution must be found to prevent recurrences of this common problem. Whether the problem should be addressed by better technological solutions, circuit adjustments, a combination of these, or other rules, the stewards leave to those who are better placed to make these types of assessments.’
“However, given the timing of the outcome of this protest, it is clear that this will not be able to happen again this year,” continued the statement from stewards Felix Holter, Derek Warwick, Andrew Mallalieu, and Dennis Dean. ‘Given the number of different circuits where track limits problems occurred this season, further solutions will have to be found before the start of the 2024 season, with the FIA having already taken significant steps in collaboration with the circuits.’