FIA president Mohammed Ben Sulayem has warned the likes of the Red Bull Ring and the Lusail International Circuit that they most find a solution to stop drivers exceeding track limits or face being axed from the calendar.
Last weekend’s Qatar Grand Prix was a busy one for the stewards, who once again had to award several track limit penalties.
Turns 5, 12 and 13 were the three most troublesome corners for the drivers, with the circuit having even been narrowed between Turns 12 and 13 after qualifying.
Zhou Guanyu was a huge benefiter of the track limit penalties, as he was promoted from P12 to ninth after the race due to penalties for Sergio Perez, Lance Stroll and Pierre Gasly.
The last time track limits were as big an issue as they were in Qatar was at the Austrian Grand Prix, where over 1,200 track limit warnings were awarded by the stewards.
It’s clear that track limits at certain circuits must be addressed as an urgent matter, with Ben Sulayem admitting that circuits will be axed if they don’t make changes.
“You’re absolutely right about it, we had the same issue in Austria, it was 1200 [offences there],” Ben Sulayem told Motorsport.com.
“And I have to say, congratulations to the stewards because they spotted it. But is that the solution? No.
“The solution is to improve the track itself. I know some are resistant to it, but to tell you the truth, if they don’t, there is no race. It is as simple as this. We can’t afford this.”
One of the best ways to stop drivers from exceeding track limits is by designing adequate kerbs, with drivers having been forced to avoid these in places at Qatar or risk damage to their car.
The FIA clearly have several ideas on how circuits can address track limits to ensure that drivers stay within the white lines, although for some it’ll likely have to work for categories like MotoGP as well.
No matter what circuits decide to do to solve the problem, the FIA president insists that it must happen now.
“We have to work on a solution,” explained Ben Sulayem. “One of the solutions is to make it slippery when they go off. Nobody can stop the drivers except the drivers themselves.
“We can think of the height [of the kerbs]. Does it damage the cars? Or maybe there is a possibility of putting some gravel, but with gravel, we have to be very careful.
“How deep is the gravel? Because you don’t want anyone to get stuck. And how big is the gravel? because you don’t want the car to be damaged. It is a balance.
“But I believe now it’s not a matter of: oh, do we do it? We have to do it. And we have to listen to the drivers mainly, to the feedback from them.
“I will have to make it urgently because it has to be implemented for next year. We cannot afford [for it to continue], especially where we see it all the time.”