Brown: F1 must do better after watching Austria track limits saga happen

McLaren CEO Zak Brown has questioned why Formula 1 'watched the Austrian GP track limits saga happen' when it was clear on Friday it would become a problem.

Zak Brown, CEO, McLaren Racing, on the pit wall

Constant track limits abuse by drivers in Turns 9 and 10 of the Red Bull Ring flooded the FIA stewards with incidents to review.

On Sunday afternoon the FIA had to look at over 1,200 potential transgressions to determine if drivers deserved to be penalised. 

That manual process took over four hours after the race and resulted in a revised classification, with Carlos Sainz, Lewis Hamilton and Pierre Gasly among the drivers demoted long after the race had finished.

While the farcical outcome prompted talk over how the Spielberg circuit's track design can be improved to avoid a repeat, Brown also feels F1 could do a better job of reacting to developing problems over a race weekend.

During Friday's qualifying, a total of 47 laps were deleted for exceeding track limits, meaning that there was a clear warning that the issue could also affect the race and that a pragmatic, temporary solution could be found to tweak the way track limits were going to be policed.

"I think where we need to do a better job is, we knew this was going to be a problem on Friday," Brown said.

"So Spa [2021, which was called off after three safety car laps due to heavy rain], we knew Spa was potentially going to be a problem on Sunday, on Friday. And we just kind of watched it unfold.

F1 watched the situation unfold in Austria just as it did at Indianapolis in 2005, claims Brown

F1 watched the situation unfold in Austria just as it did at Indianapolis in 2005, claims Brown

Photo by: Steve Swope / Motorsport Images

"The other one was obviously tyres at Indianapolis [2005], we knew that was a problem on Friday. But it was a big problem on Saturday and we watched it unfold on Sunday.

"So, I think where we need to do better as a sport, is we all kind of thought what happened Sunday could happen. And yet we just kind of watched it happen."

Brown did praise the FIA's "brave" decision to consistently continue counting every offence after the race, even if it would cause a lot of grief.

The stewards ended up dishing out 12 track limits penalties to eight drivers after Aston Martin successfully protested the provisional result.

"I'll give hats off to the FIA for addressing the issue," Brown added. "I think it would have been easy to go: 'This is going to create a lot of noise. Let's just kind of get it right next time.'

"But for them to kind of put their hand up and say these penalties need to be addressed, I thought that was a bit of a brave decision.

"But we can't have it again, the net-net is we can't have a race that five hours later you have that degree of change of penalties."

"We need to look at various technologies because we were getting 5-6-7 lap delays.

"So, what do you do on the last lap? if someone goes over the track limits, there's probably not enough technology that can move fast enough.

"What we need to do is make sure it never happens again and do a proper debrief. And understand how we could have prevented it in the first place or handled it differently."

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