F1 stewards slam FIA’s “inability” to enforce track limits in Haas US GP hearing

The FIA’s “inability” to appropriately enforce track limits has been criticized by Formula 1 stewards as “completely unsatisfactory,” and they are calling for the quick implementation of a solution.

The Haas team’s right-of-review protest prompted an investigation into the outcomes of the most recent US Grand Prix, which culminated in the stewards’ damning decision.

After bringing attention to instances of Alex Albon, Logan Sargeant, Sergio Perez, and Lance Stroll going over the Austin track limits at Turn 6 that the stewards failed to notice during the race, Haas may have moved its driver Nico Hulkenberg up to the points.

The FIA has admitted shortcomings in the enforcement of track limits, even though the protest was dismissed because Haas’s case was based on onboard footage that was accessible at the time and did not meet the requirements for “significant” and “relevant” new evidence.

The stewards acknowledged in their decision regarding the Haas protest that the FIA was “inability to uphold the current standards to which track limits should be enforced.”

They, therefore, recommend the rapid deployment of a solution for this “completely unsatisfactory” handling.

According to the stewards’ ruling, “Given that, notwithstanding the formal outcome of this [Haas] decision, the stewards have seen individual pieces of evidence that appear to be potential track limit breaches at the apex of Turn 6,” they found it completely unacceptable that they were unable to enforce the current track limit standard for all competitors. As a result, they strongly advised that a solution be implemented quickly to prevent further recurrences of this widespread issue.

It transpired that the CCTV camera at Turn 6 at the Circuit of The Americas, which was used in conjunction with onboard footage to monitor possible track limit breaches, did not have a clear view of the corner apex.

The issue of track limits has reared its head throughout the season. The FIA identified more than 1200 possible cases of cars exceeding the painted white lines with all four wheels during the Austrian GP.

Resultingly, gravel traps that were recommended by the governing body previously but turned down by Red Bull Ring organisers will now be installed in time for the race in 2024.

Then in Qatar, the round immediately prior to the US GP, the white lines were painted thicker at some corners overnight to give drivers more room for error as part of a temporary solution following multiple offences during FP1 and Friday qualifying.

The stewards conditioned: “Whether the problem is properly addressed by better technology solutions, track modifications, a combination thereof, or a different regulation and enforcement standard, the stewards leave to those better positioned to make such assessments.

“However, based on the timing of this decision, it is clear that a complete solution cannot, as a matter of practicality, happen this year.

“However, given the variety of circuits where notable track limit problems surfaced this season, and while the FIA and the circuits have made great progress thus far, more resolutions ought to be achieved prior to the 2024 season commencing.”

The procedure for identifying and responding to track limits has been expedited by the FIA through the establishment of a Remote Operations Centre in Geneva. Additionally, there is now a greater number of personnel keeping an eye on potential breaches during an F1 race.

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