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FIA President warns circuits could lose F1 races over track limits

Track limits were a recurring theme during the Qatar Grand Prix weekend and FIA president Mohammed Ben Sulayem says a solution must be urgently found.

Leclerc Qatar
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To news overview © XPBimages

FIA President Mohammed Ben Sulayem has warned that venues such as Austria and Qatar could drop from the Formula 1 schedule if a solution to track limit breaches is not found.

Last weekend during the race weekend in Qatar, track limits were one of the major talking points of the event.

Drivers had lap time deleted throughout the weekend, with Oscar Piastri finding out during his parc fermé interview after qualifying that the effort that placed him in third had been deleted, demoting him to sixth.

A handful of drivers were hit with five-second penalties for breaching track limits during the race, with Sergio Perez and Pierre Gasly tallying up 15 seconds in total each.

Track limit violations were so frequent during the race earlier this season in Austria that the stewards couldn't handle the sheer volume of offences, with the final classification being delivered several hours after the Grand Prix had ended.

Ben Sulayem has insisted that venues risk losing out on an F1 slot in the future if a solution can't be found quickly.

“We had the same issue in Austria [as in Qatar], it was 1200 [offences],” Ben Sulayem told select media including RacingNews365.com.

"I have to say, congratulations to the stewards because they spotted it. But is that the solution? No.

"The solution is to improve the track itself. I know some are resistant to it, but to tell you the truth, if they don't, there is no race. It is as simple as this. We can't afford this."

'Listen to the drivers'

Ben Sulayem has asserted that F1 must listen to the drivers and implement fixes based on their feedback.

“I admit the track limits is an issue,” he said. “We have to work on a solution.

“One of the solutions is to make it slippery when they go off because nobody can stop the drivers except the drivers themselves.

“And then there is the height [of the kerb]. Does it damage the cars? Or maybe there is a possibility of putting some gravel, but with gravel, we have to be very careful.

“How deep is the gravel? Because you don't want anyone to get stuck. And how big is the gravel? Because you don't want the car to be damaged.

“But I believe now it’s not a matter of: 'Oh, do we do it?' We have to do it and we have to listen to the drivers mainly, to the feedback from them.”

The FIA president added: "It has to be implemented for next year, we can't afford [for it to continue], especially where we see it all the time.

“When you are a driver, of course, you want to take the chance. That's nature, you want to be faster and you want to push [the limits].

“But we don't want a restriction to stop it so it's havoc, or it's to do with safety. We want the drivers to be convinced that ‘if I go there, I might lose time’ and then you leave it to him.”

F1 2023 Qatar Grand Prix RN365 News dossier

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