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Hill: Stricter penalties could lead to better racing action

The 1996 World Champion has defended the FIA's decision to introduce stricter punishments for drivers forcing others off the track. But is he right in saying that the tighter regulations could lead to better racing in the future?

Damon Hill has argued that stricter penalties for drivers who force other competitors off the track in F1 could actually lead to better racing in the long run. The former World Champion was speaking in the aftermath of the Austrian Grand Prix, in which both McLaren's Lando Norris, and Red Bull's Sergio Perez picked up penalties for appearing to force other cars off the track that were attempting to pass on the outside. "I think most people would argue that if you allow people to run people off the track, then you're just going to get chaos out there," Hill stated on the F1 Nation podcast. "There is an argument to say that the tighter the regs can be, the better racing you're going to get, because it means that somebody will try to go around the outside of the driver on the inside, who then has to make allowances for that. "So in other words, if you get a car alongside going into a corner, you've got to come out together, not just one of you. It's a different way of looking at the race. If they're taking the sport in that direction, it might mean it's taking away the contact element." The biggest topic of conversation after the conclusion of the race concerned the first lap incident involving Norris and Perez. The young Brit closed the door on Perez, who was attempting to pass around the outside of Turn 4. Hill understands Norris' inclination to do so, but the pundit also posits that a stricter line from the FIA could actually improve the spectacle for fans moving forwards. "He [Norris] was racing in the way that he's grown up racing. You know, he did actually say somewhere that in karting, everyone knows if you go around the outside, someone's going to lean on you and put you in the dirt," Hill added. "I used to race against a certain driver called Michael Schumacher. And he used to do that to me. And there was an uproar when it happened in those days, but now it's changed. So the trend is towards people wanting to see action. Clearly, the fans want to see a bit of hard-knocking, they want to see a bit of argy-bargy - and so maybe times do change. "But if you go back even further, if you put someone off into the dirt, you could kill them, it was very dangerous to do that. We have to make a decision on whether or not it is illegal to push someone wide on a corner, then Lando [Norris] would have had to back off in the corner and make room for Sergio who's on the outside. "And then you might get closer racing. It might mean that drivers have more opportunity to go around the outside."

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