Video analysis: UK motorsport's new track-limits rule

The Motor Sports Association's new rule on track limits in UK racing is already proving to be a seriously contentious issue, despite not yet being applied in racing conditions

Video analysis: UK motorsport's new track-limits rule

UK motorsport's governing body has deviated from the FIA's own guidelines to introduce a tweaked regulation for 2014.

Competitors will now be penalised if they run beyond the outer edge of any kerb (or the white line at the edge of the track where there is no kerb), whereas before they could run all but one wheel beyond the edge of the track without penalty.

As an example, under the previous rule AUTOSPORT's Ben Anderson is not only legal here in his approach to Paddock and Graham Hill Bend at Brands Hatch, but is taking the normal racing line established over several years:

THE NEW RULE:

Regulation Q14.4.2: Drivers must use the track at all times and may not leave the track without a justifiable reason.

Q14.4.2.a The white lines defining the track edges are considered to be part of the track.

Q14.4.2.b A driver will be judged to have left the track if any wheel of the car either goes beyond the outer edge of any kerb or goes beyond the white line where there is no kerb.

PENALTY SYSTEM:

First offence: Reprieve
Second: Black-and-white warning flag
Third: Five-second penalty
Fourth: Drive-through penalty
Fifth: Black flag

WHY WAS IT INTRODUCED?

The argument for its introduction is that drivers were abusing the old rule, and there was a lack of consistency at different circuits because of an ambiguous definition of what counted as the track.

"The rule is a massive step forward," said MSV chief Jonathan Palmer.

"The FIA rule officially made it OK for drivers to use as much grass or surface beyond the white lines as they could."

MSA chairman Alan Gow added: "It's the fairest [option]. You've got to draw the line somewhere on the limit of the track."

DIMINISHING THE SPECTACLE

European Le Mans Series GTE champion Matt Griffin was one of the rule's biggest critics when it was announced last August, and says it risks making a "boring" spectacle of racing.

"It's a ridiculous idea," he told AUTOSPORT. "The worst I've ever heard.

"Drivers will come from elsewhere, not understand what's going on and get penalties. It'll be detrimental to UK motorsport.

"It's also boring for the fans. Cars will be just driving around inside the white lines, not kicking up the dust.

"Look at the chicane at Knockhill with cars on two wheels - it's iconic."

WORRIES OVER POLICING

While it's unlikely to be a significant issue for major series like the British Touring Car Championship, which utilises in-car and trackside cameras to enforce regulations, there are concerns for smaller events without such luxuries.

"Quite how they're going to properly police it, I don't know," Gow admitted.

"You can't expect observers to see every movement of every car on every track, so it is going to be difficult."

Palmer, chairman of the Association of Motor Racing Circuit Owners, added: "It's no different from what it is now.

"An observation has to be made [and] common sense needs to prevail."

GREY AREAS

What will constitute "justifiable reason"? What about an incident in a heated, wheel-to-wheel battle in which a driver - having already received a warning - runs wide, but does not gain an advantage?

What if the infringement is almost invisible to the naked eye?

Such innocuous incidents will be thrust firmly into the limelight this season. And they could become the catalyst for a far greater, long-running controversy.

The change will put pressure on drivers to adjust approaches honed over many seasons, and on officials to carefully delineate between clear breaches of the rule and genuine mistakes.

It will be fascinating to see how this plays out when UK racing gets back underway in a few months' time.

shares
comments
Memories of the year: Beating my racing hero

Previous article

Memories of the year: Beating my racing hero

Next article

Formula Ford greats join virtual race in honour of Neil Cunningham

Formula Ford greats join virtual race in honour of Neil Cunningham
Load comments

About this article

Series National
Author Ben Anderson
How the GT Cup is thriving despite the pandemic Plus

How the GT Cup is thriving despite the pandemic

The GT Cup has attracted a stunning array of drivers and machinery for its opening event at Donington Park this weekend. The fact we're in the middle of a pandemic makes that entry all the more remarkable, but there's plenty of reasons why the series is proving popular

National
Apr 9, 2021
What Autosport’s looking forward to in national motorsport this year Plus

What Autosport’s looking forward to in national motorsport this year

With COVID-19 restrictions gradually being lifted and national motorsport finally returning this weekend, focus and anticipation has switched to the year ahead. Here are Autosport's picks for what should be some of the best events and rivalries of 2021

National
Apr 3, 2021
How 2020's newest national series and championships fared Plus

How 2020's newest national series and championships fared

To the credit of organisers, some new national UK series and championships were still able to successfully launch last year, even with the world in the grip of a pandemic. Here's how Autosport has ranked them

National
Feb 14, 2021
The new national series and championships in 2021 Plus

The new national series and championships in 2021

The COVID-19 pandemic may still mean there is uncertainty across the globe, but that hasn't stopped new series and championships from being introduced into UK motorsport this season. Autosport takes a look at the newest additions

National
Feb 10, 2021
The verdict on how COVID impacted club racing in 2020 Plus

The verdict on how COVID impacted club racing in 2020

It was a season like no other but, despite the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic, there were some positives on the club motorsport scene last year as entry numbers largely remained stable, while some series boasted impressive growth

National
Feb 7, 2021
How a Porsche King became 2020's breakout star Plus

How a Porsche King became 2020's breakout star

Few drivers in 2020 could lay claim to a season as exceptional as Porsche Carrera Cup GB champion Harry King. Beating the British Touring Car Championship's best to win Autosport's National Driver of the Year was the ideal recognition of his feat

National
Feb 1, 2021
The Formula Vee maverick who has reached the top Plus

The Formula Vee maverick who has reached the top

For a second consecutive year, a self-built machine has won the Formula Vee championship. But James Harridge's 'Maverick' comes from the very humblest of origins - with some parts even salvaged from a skip

National
Jan 24, 2021
The greatest club racing characters Plus

The greatest club racing characters

From legendary drinking habits to dramatic driving styles, there has been no shortage of cult-hero figures over the past 70 years in national motorsport. Here's an extended version of the original list that appeared in Autosport's 70th anniversary bookazine

National
Jan 5, 2021