The persistent issue of track limits and the penalties associated with them at the Qatar Grand Prix has left Formula 1 veteran David Coulthard “a little bit angry.”
Track limits have been a recurring topic throughout the season, sparking debates within the paddock about whether to allow drivers more freedom or enforce strict policing of the white lines.
The Qatar Grand Prix saw a staggering 51 track limit violations during the race, not including the lap times that were deleted in qualifying and the Sprint Shootout.
Charles Leclerc and Lance Stroll faced penalties after the Sprint race for repeatedly exceeding track limits, while Stroll, Sergio Perez, Alex Albon, and Pierre Gasly received multiple penalties during the Grand Prix itself.
Coulthard expressed his frustration, urging Formula 1 to prioritise racing and let drivers push the boundaries.
He argued that if all drivers are consistently exceeding track limits, it levels the playing field, saying, “I was actually a little bit angry because I love the sport and I love the history of the sport, and in the history of the sport, we didn’t have seasons where we were talking about track limits.”
Referencing the recent race in Austria, Coulthard emphasised the need to shift the focus back to the essence of racing.
He stated, “We had it in Austria, super frustrating, we’ve got it again here.
“We need to go into top-three conversations and, okay, you could see scrutineering still has to be passed, but in terms of driving standards, let them drive the racetrack.
“They will always find, like water down a mountain, the path of least resistance and the fastest way around the track.”
Sergio Perez, who received three penalties during the Grand Prix, voiced his dissatisfaction with the stewards’ decisions.
He lamented the difficulty in judging track limits and referred to the situation as a “joke.”
Perez also criticised the last-minute changes made to track limits after Friday’s practice sessions, stating, “I think it’s really bad that we come up with a solution last-minute and then police it that bad and start giving penalties away.”
Stroll, who faced two five-second penalties on Sunday, shared Perez’s frustration.
Stroll argued that the penalties were unjust, considering the challenges faced by drivers during a race, such as extreme temperatures and intense G-forces.
He expressed his dismay, saying, “It’s a joke that they’re giving penalties for this.
“They don’t understand what Formula 1 is these days.
“We’ve seen this weekend, just people getting penalties, and it’s not like we’re gaining an advantage when you’re going off the track by three millimetres.”