What's behind the FIA's change of focus on Qatar F1 track limits

Formula 1 race director Michael Masi has switched the FIA's stance on Qatar's track limits monitoring after reviewing which corners proved problematic in Friday practice.

What's behind the FIA's change of focus on Qatar F1 track limits

After observing what happened on track and following a discussion in the drivers’ briefing Masi has adjusted the list of corners that will be monitored from FP3 onwards.

On Thursday, in his regular notes issued to teams, Masi specified the exits of Turns 4, 12, 13, 14 and 16 as locations where he expected drivers to run wide and track limits would be monitored via timing loops in the track.

As is usually the case he stressed that any indiscretions would result in deleted lap times, and that in the race three offences would result in a black and white warning flag and a report to the stewards.

However during FP1 no drivers actually had their times deleted as Masi allowed them to learn their way around while the FIA studied where the real issues were.

Before the later FP2 session Masi issued revised notes that deleted all the specific references to corners that had previously been included.

Instead he included a more general explanation that stressed that the edge of the track was the kerb, rather than the white line, noting: “The track limit on the exit of each corner at this track is defined as when no part of a car remains in contact with the purple and white kerb.

“For the avoidance of doubt, drivers will be judged to have left the track on the exit of a corner if no part of the car remains in contact with the purple and white kerb.”

Valtteri Bottas, Mercedes W12

Valtteri Bottas, Mercedes W12

Photo by: Steve Etherington / Motorsport Images

In effect that ruling covered the whole of the track rather than just the corners previously specified.

Subsequently in FP2 times were deleted at three corners that had not been singled out before, namely Turn 2 (George Russell, Daniel Ricciardo and Lando Norris), Turn 7 (Valtteri Bottas twice, Fernando Alonso twice and Charles Leclerc), and Turn 8 (Leclerc). In addition Lance Stroll lost a time at Turn 16, which had been on the original list.

After the drivers’ briefing on Friday evening Masi sent out another revised set of notes, listing Turn 2, Turn 7 and Turn 16 as the specific areas of concern. Those corners will be monitored from FP3 onwards.

An FIA spokesperson told Autosport: “With this being a new venue we were always going to take a learning approach with the free practice sessions.

“We came in with a view based on simulations and evaluated through FP1. Based on that we made some changes to the [race director’s] notes in FP2 which gave us more insights, which together with the discussions in the drivers' briefing have resulted in the updated notes that went out last night.

“We understand from the outside that it may be difficult to follow, but we firmly believe that this process gives us the best possible framework to effectively police track limits when it comes to qualifying and the race."

Read Also:

Bottas, who lost two laps times but was still fastest on Friday, admitted to some “confusion” as where the limits were defined.

“All the run-offs are tarmac, so it’s quite easy to go off and gain time,” he said. “Even some of my fastest laps, I had confusion, I didn’t know what was allowed and what wasn’t.

“I’m sure it’s going to be a talking point in the drivers’ meeting today. It’s just the nature of the track really, and that’s creating issues.”

shares
comments

Related video

Alfa Romeo: "Too risky" to promote Pourchaire to F1 for 2022
Previous article

Alfa Romeo: "Too risky" to promote Pourchaire to F1 for 2022

Next article

F1 Qatar GP live commentary and updates - FP3 & Qualifying

F1 Qatar GP live commentary and updates - FP3 & Qualifying
Load comments
The line Verstappen finally crossed in F1's first Jeddah race Plus

The line Verstappen finally crossed in F1's first Jeddah race

OPINION: Max Verstappen has made the 2021 Formula 1 championship. He’s taken the fight to the all-conquering Mercedes squad and its dominant champion, produced driving displays few can match. But he’s been on a controversial course too, and finally crossed a particular line in Jeddah

Saudi Arabian Grand Prix Driver Ratings Plus

Saudi Arabian Grand Prix Driver Ratings

An ill-tempered Saudi Grand Prix made Formula 1 more soap opera than sporting spectacle at times, but there were some strong performances up and down the field on the world championship's first visit to Jeddah

Formula 1
Dec 6, 2021
How the Jeddah F1 race became a one-sitting Netflix drama series Plus

How the Jeddah F1 race became a one-sitting Netflix drama series

The inaugural Saudi Arabian Grand Prix was a race packed full of incident as Formula 1 2021's title contenders repeatedly clashed on track. Lewis Hamilton won out over Max Verstappen to level the scores heading into next weekend's Abu Dhabi finale, as Jeddah turned F1 into a drama series

Formula 1
Dec 6, 2021
The impressive attitude that earned Albon his second F1 chance Plus

The impressive attitude that earned Albon his second F1 chance

Dropped by Red Bull last season, Alexander Albon has fought back into a Formula 1 seat with Williams. ALEX KALINAUCKAS explains what Albon has done to earn the place soon to be vacated by the highly rated George Russell

Formula 1
Dec 5, 2021
How Formula E factors could negate Red Bull's Jeddah practice gap to Mercedes Plus

How Formula E factors could negate Red Bull's Jeddah practice gap to Mercedes

Mercedes led the way in practice for Formula 1’s first race in Jeddah, where Red Bull was off the pace on both single-lap and long runs. But, if Max Verstappen can reverse the results on Saturday, factors familiar in motorsport’s main electric single-seater category could be decisive in another close battle with Lewis Hamilton

Formula 1
Dec 3, 2021
Why Norris doesn’t expect Mr Nice Guy praise for much longer Plus

Why Norris doesn’t expect Mr Nice Guy praise for much longer

Earning praise from rivals has been a welcome sign that Lando Norris is becoming established among Formula 1's elite. But the McLaren driver is confident that his team's upward curve can put him in the mix to contend for titles in the future, when he's hoping the compliments will be replaced by being deemed an equal adversary

Formula 1
Dec 2, 2021
What Ferrari still needs to improve to return to F1 title contention Plus

What Ferrari still needs to improve to return to F1 title contention

After a disastrous 2020 in which it slumped to sixth in the F1 constructors' standings, Ferrari has rebounded strongly and is on course to finish third - despite regulations that forced it to carryover much of its forgettable SF1000 machine. Yet while it can be pleased with its improvement, there are still steps it must make if 2022 is to yield a return to winning ways

Formula 1
Dec 2, 2021
How F1 teams and personnel react in pressurised situations Plus

How F1 teams and personnel react in pressurised situations

OPINION: The pressure is firmly on Red Bull and Mercedes as Formula 1 2021 embarks on its final double-header. How the respective teams deal with that will be a crucial factor in deciding the outcome of the drivers' and constructors' championships, as Autosport's technical consultant and ex-McLaren F1 engineer explains

Formula 1
Dec 1, 2021