Formula 1 has recently faced a major issue with track limits, as seen during the Qatar Grand Prix weekend. The constant shuffling of grid positions and the numerous in-race penalties handed out to change the order have led to chaotic situations on the track. Jean Todt, President of the FIA, acknowledged these problems and emphasized the need for change. However, Mohammed Ben Sulayem, the FIA’s Vice-President for sport, believes that simply policing the track limits more effectively is not the solution. Instead, he argues that circuits with clear track limit issues, such as Qatar and Austria, must make modifications to their tracks to discourage drivers from running wide. This article will analyze why track modifications are necessary to address the track limits problem in Formula 1.
Ben Sulayem, in response to the track limits problem in Qatar, emphasized the importance of improving the tracks themselves. He believes that if measures are not taken to tackle this issue, it could ultimately lead to the cancellation of races. The staggering number of 1200 track limit offenses in Austria further highlights the severity of the problem. Congratulating the stewards for spotting the violations, Ben Sulayem states that it is not a sustainable solution. Instead, the focus should be on improving the tracks to deter drivers from exceeding limits.
The excessive abuse of kerbs by drivers in Qatar played a significant role in the tire issues faced during the Grand Prix. Sidewall separation on Pirelli rubber prompted the implementation of an 18-lap limit on tire life, resulting in a three-stop race. To address this problem, Ben Sulayem emphasizes the need for better kerb designs. The aim should be to make it slippery when drivers go off-track, forcing them to recognize the limits themselves. The height of the kerbs, the use of gravel, and the careful balance between driver safety and car damage need to be considered during the modification process.
In the pursuit of effective track modifications, Ben Sulayem highlights the importance of listening to the drivers’ feedback. They are the ones experiencing the track limits firsthand and can provide valuable insights for improvement. Their input should be prioritized in order to create modifications that address the issue at hand. Urgent action is required since the modifications need to be implemented by the next racing season.
While the FIA has made efforts to improve track limit control, there is still room for further enhancement. Ben Sulayem suggests that utilizing technology could help in better policing track limit breaches. However, he also acknowledges that more resources are needed to invest back into the sport. With Formula 1 being a multi-billion dollar enterprise, it is crucial to allocate sufficient resources to ensure effective stewarding and monitoring of track limits.
To support the FIA’s efforts in track limit control, Ben Sulayem argues for a better arrangement with Formula 1 to provide adequate funding. As the owner of the championship, the FIA carries a significant responsibility and needs the necessary resources to fulfill its role effectively. Transparent communication about the costs involved is essential for maintaining a fair and sustainable partnership. The FIA should not be expected to operate with limited resources, given the magnitude of its responsibilities.
Track modifications are imperative to solve the track limits problem in Formula 1. The focus should shift from solely relying on stricter policing to making circuit improvements that discourage drivers from exceeding track limits. This approach requires collaboration between the FIA, circuit owners, and drivers to develop suitable modifications. Additionally, investing in technology and providing adequate funding are crucial for the effective control of track limits. By addressing these issues, Formula 1 can ensure fair and competitive racing while minimizing the chaos caused by track limit violations.