Track limits at the Red Bull Ring were a huge talking point at the Austrian Grand Prix, with podium finishers Charles Leclerc, Max Verstappen and Sir Lewis Hamilton slamming the race directors.
Following on from Michael Masi’s sacking at the end of last season, the FIA introduced two race directors for this year; Niels Wittich, and Eduardo Freitas.
The pair don’t actually direct together; instead, they work on a rotational basis in order to reduce the stress of travelling around the world for a single person.
However, this has led to a number of problems already this season, with the main issue being inconsistency among the pair.
Drivers have become unhappy by the varying rules at each Grand Prix, based on who is in charge for that particular weekend.
Following the recent round, Verstappen called for the race directors to “work with the drivers”, after the number of penalties and warnings awarded in F1, F2 and F3 were a “bit of a joke”.
Track limits were the number one problem during the Austrian GP, with over forty warnings having been given out just in the F1 race alone.
Some drivers, including Lando Norris, were even awarded with a five-second time penalty for exceeding track limits too many times.
Verstappen discussed in great detail after the race his opinion on the current race direction, admitting that the current situation “doesn’t look good for the sport”.
“I don’t think necessarily it depends on one race director, I think it’s more about working with the drivers instead of just keeping your stance and just being stubborn,” Verstappen began.
“You know, we want to make it better for everyone and it’s not like we’re fighting for ourselves. We have good conversations between the drivers and at the end of the day, the more or less, on most things we agree.
“Of course, everyone has their own opinions about certain things, but like track limits, I think track limits debate this weekend has been a bit of a joke, not only in F1 but in F2 and F3.
“It’s easy to say from the outside, yeah, but you have to just stay within the white lines. It sounds very easy, but it’s not because when you go that quick through a corner and some of them are a bit blind, if you have a bit more understeer, tyres are wearing, it’s easy to just go over the white line.
“But do we actually gain time? Maybe yes, maybe not. And to be honest, there’s only two or three corners where you can really just go a bit wider. And yeah, I don’t think we should have this value on one mill over that’s a penalty or whatever.
“Then just add a wall or put some gravel back where we… like Turn 6 on the exit. I think that’s great because there is gravel, you punish yourself if you go wide.
“So these are things where we have to look into how we can make it better because also for the stewards and just the people involved with checking these track limits.
“I mean it’s almost impossible to check these kind of things because you need what… almost like one guy on one car the whole race to check the whole lap if he’s not going outside of the white line, where on this track, at least, in some places, you get naturally penalised if you just you know go a bit wider and you touch the gravels.
“These kind of things, I think it just doesn’t look good for the sport as well and this is just one thing. Then the other thing is racing incidents and stuff. Yeah for sure we can do better. I think we will work on it we’ll try to make it better,” concluded the reigning World Champion.
As well as track limit warnings, all three podium finishers were awarded with a suspended €10,000 fine for breaking parc ferme rules.
A further five drivers were awarded with penalties during the race.
Leclerc revealed the importance of consistency in the sport; however, he admitted that actually he doesn’t know how it can be achieved.
“Consistency has always been a thing that we’ve searched for and you can always be better, obviously, two race directors, it makes it probably a bit more difficult,” the race winner said.
“Whether it’s impossible to achieve a good level of consistency? I don’t think so. So, yeah, I don’t really have any solutions for now. But I do believe that probably with one race director, it might be a little bit easier to manage,” reckoned the Ferrari driver.
Hamilton was last to be questioned about the matter, with the seven-time World Champion having nothing to say on the ongoing situation.
“Nothing to add, nothing to add. I agree with what they said,” the 37-year-old said.