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Formula 1 Austrian Grand Prix 2024

Hamilton hopeful for end to Austria 'shambles'

Lewis Hamilton, Fernando Alonso, Esteban Ocon and Alexander Albon are but a few of the F1 drivers who have touched upon the alterations to the Red Bull Ring to prevent track limits violations at this season's Austrian GP.

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Lewis Hamilton, Fernando Alonso and other drivers have shared their thoughts on recent changes to the Red Bull Ring to better prevent track limits violations.

The Mercedes driver offered a robust view of an issue that has plagued the Austrian Grand Prix in recent seasons, whilst the Spaniard quipped the corner exit alternations would not change anything for him and his team.

Triggered by an Aston Martin protest, last year's round in Austria saw over 1200 track limits infractions during the grand prix itself, which led to a swathe of time penalties applied after the conclusion of the race. 

Whilst the stewards were unable to review each individual case, 12 penalties were handed out, including sanctions for Carlos Sainz and Pierre Gasly, which moved Fernando Alonso from sixth to fifth and Lance Stroll up to ninth from tenth, respectively.

As a preventative measure, ahead of this season's trip to Styria, the FIA introduced 2.5 metre-wide gravel strips on the exits of Turns 9 and 10, to dissuade drivers from veering outside the white lines that define the edge of the circuit. 

Also, at Turn 4, the white lines have been moved to within two metres of a full gravel trap, which will therefore punish any of the two metre-wide cars that venture outside.

"I hope so," Alonso replied to media including RacingNews365 when asked whether he felt the changes would improve the track limits issue at the Red Bull Ring. "I mean, we didn't have any track limits [last year], so it will not change much for us. But for others, the gravel will change [things]."

Hamilton, meanwhile, highlighted how much of a problem it has been in the past, whilst remaining optimistic about the alterations, saying: "Well hopefully the new track limits will be a bit better this weekend - it's obviously been a bit of a shambles the past couple of years here."

A compromise solution between F1 and MotoGP

Both Esteban Ocon and Alexander Albon offered more in-depth opinions on the matter, but both feel it is a step in the right direction by the FIA.

"I think the best solution is to have a proper hard stop - you go off [the circuit], you feel that you are off," the outgoing Alpine driver said.

"I've always raced the way that if I go off the track, I lose time, and that's how it should be. I guess that's going to help a lot - I hope it's going to be solved now, the track limit issues, because it's a great track, which is a lot of fun and has a lot of character. Honestly, it's been very boring because of that [the track limits issues]."

Albon addressed the wider implications of the changes, highlighting why a full gravel trap may not have been a viable solution to an issue that is considered to be afflicting one of the most exciting circuits on the F1 calendar.

"I think it's a great thing," The Williams driver chipped in on the new gravel strips. "In some ways, I feel for the FIA - they've got to deal with MotoGP and motorbike compliances as well as for us [F1]. 

"It's so easy on our side to just put gravel. It's something that all the drivers have been pushing strongly for, because it's the natural deterrent that we need... I'm happy with how they're handling the issue."

Albon believes the comprise struck by the novel solution is a "good balance" between the two series, adding: "I'm guessing after the weekend, they're not having to get a digger out and take the whole corner away... 

"I imagine there's gonna be a little bit of debris as drivers get close and start pushing it off, but that's the same as gravel."

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