There were a total of 43 abuses of the track limits rules in Sunday’s Austrian GP, while four drivers were handed five-second penalties; Lando Norris and Max Verstappen have criticised the rulings, while George Russell believes F1 should return to having one race director

Last Updated: 11/07/22 5:36pm

Johnny Herbert analyses how drivers used the track limits during the Austrian Grand Prix.

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Johnny Herbert analyses how drivers used the track limits during the Austrian Grand Prix.

Johnny Herbert analyses how drivers used the track limits during the Austrian Grand Prix.

Lando Norris and Max Verstappen have branded the onslaught of track limits penalties at the Austrian GP as “stupid” and a “bit of a joke”, while George Russell has reopened F1’s race director debate by calling for more consistency.

F1 has strict track limits rules for this year and in Sunday’s race there were a total of 43 offences for crossing the track’s white line.

Norris, Pierre Gasly, Zhou Guanyu and Sebastian Vettel, meanwhile, all picked up five-second penalties for repeat abuse.

“You can’t see the white lines,” Norris, who finished eighth, told Sky Sports F1. “It’s just guessing and I’m obviously not good enough at guessing.

“But I got a warning from Turn 1 and it was just a complete mistake. I lost time, so when you look at it that way, I can say it’s a bit stupid.

Lewis Hamilton fumes over the team radio after being given a black and white flag for exceeding track limits.

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Lewis Hamilton fumes over the team radio after being given a black and white flag for exceeding track limits.

Lewis Hamilton fumes over the team radio after being given a black and white flag for exceeding track limits.

“I’ve locked up, I’ve hit the exit kerb, I’ve lost like three or four-tenths. So it’s not like not punishing me for the last corner where you just commit to running off and gaining an advantage. This was just me making mistakes. So I don’t feel like I should be punished for it.”

Top three Charles Leclerc, Verstappen and Lewis Hamilton were among the many to get warned about track limits, prompting angry responses from the Mercedes driver who said at one stage the rules were “BS”.

Verstappen admitted the penalties were “not a good look for the sport”.

“I think track limits debate this weekend has been a bit of a joke,” the world champion and current title leader said.

“It’s easy to say from the outside, ‘yeah, but you have to just stay within the white lines’. It sounds very easy, but it’s not because when you go that quick through a corner and some of them are a bit blind, if you have a bit more understeer, tyres are wearing, it’s easy to just go over the white line, but do we actually gain time? Maybe yes, maybe not.

“I don’t think we should have this value on one millimeter over, that’s a penalty or whatever. Then just add a wall or put some gravel back. I think that’s great because there is gravel, you punish yourself if you go wide.

“So these are things where we have to look into how we can make it better because also for the stewards and just the people involved with checking these track limits, it’s almost impossible to check these kind of things because you almost need one guy on one car the whole race to check the whole lap if he’s not going outside of the white line.

“These kind of things, I think it just doesn’t look good for the sport.”

Ted Kravitz looks back at an epic race at the Red Bull Ring for the Austrian Grand Prix.

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Ted Kravitz looks back at an epic race at the Red Bull Ring for the Austrian Grand Prix.

Ted Kravitz looks back at an epic race at the Red Bull Ring for the Austrian Grand Prix.

Russell wants one race director as F1 debate reopens

The track limits penalties and Norris and Verstappen’s comments follow Russell calling for F1 to ditch its current system of rotating race directors.

Following Michael Masi being ditched earlier this year for his handling of last season’s title decider, the sport has moved to a rotating system with Niels Wittich and Eduardo Freitas officiating races.

But tension has been building over consistency of penalties in racing battles and on Friday, Sebastian Vettel was handed a suspended fine for storming out of a drivers’ meeting early.

Russell, speaking on Saturday in Austria, said there was “no accountability” at the moment and called for more consistency because of the “borderline decisions”.

The best of the action from an epic Austrian Grand Prix as Charles Leclerc took the win.

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The best of the action from an epic Austrian Grand Prix as Charles Leclerc took the win.

The best of the action from an epic Austrian Grand Prix as Charles Leclerc took the win.

“We don’t want to be dishing out penalties left, right and centre but there needs to be an element of consistency somewhere and I think we need to look at the root cause of the issues,” he said.

“I do agree that we need to stick to one race director.

“We need to have a bit more consistency with the stewarding. We come to the following event and often the steward in the previous event is not there.

“So there’s no accountability, no explanations of decisions and we ask questions and it’s difficult to get a straightforwad answer because – I wouldn’t say the blame but almost the blame – is being put on to somebody else who wasn’t there

“It is tricky. Everybody’s got their own interpretations.”

Sunday’s race winner Leclerc agreed: “I do believe that probably with one race director, it might be a little bit easier to manage.”

Verstappen, however, said: “I don’t think necessarily it depends on one race director, I think it’s more about working with the drivers instead of just keeping your stance and just being stubborn.

“We want to make it better for everyone and it’s not like we’re fighting for ourselves. We have good conversations between the drivers and at the end of the day, the more or less, on most things we agree.”