The Qatar Grand Prix saw the Track Limits Festival emerge as the primary concern of the weekend, according to Vasseur.


The Qatar Grand Prix saw the Track Limits Festival emerge as the primary concern of the weekend, according to Vasseur.

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Authors: Ida Wood and Claire Cottingham

Formula 1’s ongoing struggle with enforcing track limits took center stage for Frederic Vasseur, overshadowing both the scorching conditions and tire challenges faced at the Qatar Grand Prix.

Throughout the 57-lap race, an astonishing 51 instances of lap time deletions occurred due to drivers surpassing track boundaries at nine of the Losail International Circuit’s 16 turns. This resulted in the issuance of seven five-second penalties, distributed among four drivers for breaching track limits.

Charles Leclerc of Ferrari also incurred a five-second penalty during Saturday’s sprint race for a track limits violation, costing him two valuable points.

In a weekend marked by driver fatigue and strict FIA regulations on tire usage to prevent potential failures, Vasseur’s primary concern remained track limits.

“In all honesty, while tire conditions are significant, the predominant issue for me this weekend has been track limits,” he emphasized after the grand prix.

Reflecting on a similar scenario at the Austrian Grand Prix, where a staggering 83 lap times were annulled, Vasseur expressed disappointment that steps were not taken to avert a recurrence.

“When you head to Spielberg, you anticipate track limit challenges, and we indeed encountered them. The results come in two hours post-race. Even before the weekend began, we forewarned them that it would be a festival. And indeed, it was.”

Vasseur further noted a potential lapse in driver focus towards the end of the race. “Some drivers, in the final 10 laps, were breaching limits on nearly every lap. However, one can’t fault them entirely in this situation; we need to find a resolution.”

He emphasized that this issue not only impacts the viewing experience but also has implications for the sport’s overall entertainment value. “It’s not even conducive to an engaging spectacle. On the pit wall, at least we have a tally of infringements, allowing us to follow the narrative and stay informed. But I think about those watching at home. They’re not privy to this record of violations, and suddenly they see Gasly with a five-second penalty, then ten seconds, then 15 seconds. We need to be proactive in addressing this kind of problem.”

Despite refurbishments at the Losail track preceding its second F1 race, the new kerbs proved inadequate in deterring track limit infractions and even contributed to tire issues. Vasseur contends that a comprehensive overhaul is required to prevent a recurrence of last weekend’s challenges.

“It’s not merely a matter of kerbs; it encompasses the entire process: the track layout, the kerbs, and what lies beyond them. We must find a comprehensive solution.”

While Vasseur acknowledged the logistical efforts invested in organizing the event, he expressed disappointment at the outcome. “I don’t wish to dwell on financial aspects, but there is a collective endeavor to stage this event, and to witness these results, it falls short of the championship’s standard.”

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