Penalties and track limits have always been an issue for Formula One. In a bid to have safer tracks with ample runoff areas, a situation has developed where it’s easier for drivers to go wide and gain an advantage.
With each turn different from one another, it’s not possible to issue a single standard directive. On some turns, going beyond the track limit may hand an advantage but other turns on the same track may not. The scenario is equally different from track to track.
To address the problem, on every race weekend, Charlie Whiting lists out which turns, running wide on would amount to gaining an advantage and which would not. And then discretion is given to the stewards. The stewards examine each and every case of “running wide” to judge whether an advantage was gained or not.
This leads to very inconsistent results during the same race or different races. And once again the issue of track limits has catapulted to the forefront. Verstappen’s charge from P16 was set to have a fairytale ending. He clinched the final podium place from Kimi Raikkonen on the last lap. But in his bid to overtake the Finn, Max’s all 4 wheels went off the track. The stewards handed him a 5 second time penalty that dropped him to P4. Immediately the fans created a ruckus over the issue. Big names like Jos Verstappen and Niki Lauda blasted the decision. And Max too had some choice words for the stewards.
Horner weighs in on track limits:
Christian Horner has also chimed in calling for ending the inconsistency with stewarding. The issue of track limits is a recurring issue and Horner has called for a total rethink of the same. Citing the example of Bottas who also ran wide but did not receive any penalty, Horner is not wrong.
Discretion-based stewarding has been very very inconsistent. Horner requested the FIA to make penalties compulsory for every driver who abuses track limits or drop the whole system altogether. He also suggested the installation of either bigger kerbs or a gravel trap as an alternative.
One thing everyone agrees on, that Horner points out, is that it’s very killjoy for the fans of the sport.