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Austrian Grand Prix 2023

Stoddie Straight: Track limits ruining F1; Ferrari muddled; Perez's benefit

RacingNews365's expert columnist, former Formula 1 team principal Paul Stoddart, has an idea to solve track limits, praises Ferrari but worries for Mercedes and Aston Martin.

Leclerc Austria
To news overview © XPBimages

I disagree with the strictness of the application of track limits this year, it has upset too many results in too many races.

Without question, it is causing people to turn off from Formula 1 at a time when we've never had a greater viewing audience on a global basis. There needs to be a bit of sanity there.

It it pretty easy to the naked eye if the driver has more than one tyre over the track limit and is doing it on a repetitive basis, then there should be a penalty - but don't forget, everybody needs to remember that you cannot see where that front wheel is in comparison to the track.

I am in favour of introducing something where if you're going to use track limits as an excuse for five-second penalties, you have to have seen repetitive track limits where the driver has clearly breached - but then you get into how do you define it?

You are just going to ruin the racing if you keep doing this.

We had that ridiculous situation where we didn't know for hours what the final top 10 was. There were 1,200 violations, it's too stupid for words, and it is not fair on the FIA to be reviewing 1,200 pieces of tape.

There's got to be a bit of latitude. If a driver is gaining an advantage and doing it on a consistent basis, then give them a penalty.

But if it is so minute that they have to slow down the camera to actually see whether there's a piece of red between the tyre and the track, it's ridiculous and if we're going to do that, we're going to ruin the sport. Sanity has to prevail.

A quick meeting of the World Council and the teams could produce an instant result whereby we don't have the whole weekend being ruined by track limits - and you only have to listen to the drivers, because the driver behind the car that has exceeded track limits sees it very clearly because his vision is able to see the car was off the track - but the driver driving it has no idea.

You could argue about putting walls around every track and totally ruin the racing, with places like Monaco, the Wall of Champions in Montreal, Azerbaijan having walls with teeth. They bite if you hit and drivers will go out of their way not to hit them - but you can't do that at the other 20 circuits. It is just not possible.

Let's have a bit of common sense prevail. We didn't hear this five or 10 years ago - we've just got to move on and give penalties where somebody is abusing the privilege of being able to go over the white line on a constant basis and gaining an advantage abasing the the guy who has gone over it inadvertently because he can't bloody see from sitting so low in the cockpit where the line is. It's stupid.

A mixed bag for Ferrari

Ferrari are still not getting it right, in my book. They really should have split strategies when the Virtual Safety Car came out.

That was the best position for the team, but I felt that this weekend, it perhaps looked like a bit of bias towards Charles Leclerc, because if anybody ever needed a confidence builder, he did.

But I've got to give credit, as those upgrades definitely worked, and they were definitely the best of the rest, and at Silverstone, we'll see whose upgrades are going to come out on top, but having said that, Ferrari can be pretty happy with their weekend.

Could it have been even better? Perhaps, but nevertheless, second place was probably all they were ever going to get.

			© XPBimages
	© XPBimages

Fight for second hotting up

Ferrari are solidly behind Aston Martin and Mercedes, and Mercedes are only three points ahead of Aston Martin. It's too close to call.

For want of a better word, their own pride, they need to keep developing this year's car alongside next year's one.

The team that concentrates on next year's car is going to go down in the championship this year.

If you are Mercedes, Toto Wolff over the weekend looked nothing short of depressed, Ferrari obviously had a much better weekend but if you fall behind Aston Martin - and don't take anything away from their performance this year, it's been outstanding - but if you are a manufacturer team, never mind what the budget cap says, you've unlimited funds to run the racing team.

To finish behind a non-manufacturer team is not going to be something that you want to put on your CV at the end of the year.

			© XPBimages
	© XPBimages

Kudos and benefits to Checo

I have to give Checo a little bit of credit for the fact that he was, by all accounts, as sick as a dog from beginning to the end of the race weekend. He did a pretty good recovery, starting 15th and getting up to third is a pretty good result and you can't ask for much more than that.

The argument about Saturday with Max is a pretty valid one, you've got to take him at face value that he didn't see Max, although it is hard to imagine that he wouldn't have thought Max was there because where else would he be?

Obviously if you're Christian Horner, you don't want to see your cars in that predicament.

I used to say to my drivers: 'Do what you want, but don't hit each other.' That's a pretty fair comment as most team bosses do not want contact between their two cars.

It was a bit close for comfort on Saturday, but I thought overall, and especially if you're not feeling well, Checo did a pretty good job.

			© Red Bull Content Pool
	© Red Bull Content Pool

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