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Formula 1 Austrian GP

Piastri slams “embarrassing” Austrian F1 qualifying track limits situation

McLaren racer criticises decision to penalise his final qualifying lap after so much effort spent on trying to eradicate F1’s Red Bull Ring track limits issue

Oscar Piastri, McLaren MCL38

McLaren’s Oscar Piastri has slammed his track limits penalty in Austrian Grand Prix qualifying as “embarrassing” for Formula 1.

Piastri set the third quickest time in qualifying for Sunday’s main race at the Red Bull Ring with his final lap in Q3 but lost it for running fractionally too wide at Turn 6.

That dropped him to seventh in the final order, behind Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc, who had an even wider moment at the same spot shortly afterwards before going off spectacularly at the final two corners.

“For me, it’s embarrassing,” Piastri told Sky Sports F1.

“We do all this work for track limits, put gravel in places, and I didn’t even go off the track. I stayed on the track and [it was] probably my best Turn 6 and it gets deleted.

“I don’t know why they’ve spent hundreds of thousands, if not millions, trying to change the last two corners when you still have corners [where] you can go off.

“But, anyway, everyone else kept it in the track – I didn’t. That’s how it goes.”

Oscar Piastri, McLaren F1 Team, arrives in Parc Ferme after Sprint Qualifying

Oscar Piastri, McLaren F1 Team, arrives in Parc Ferme after Sprint Qualifying

Photo by: Zak Mauger / Motorsport Images

Piastri was referring to the effort from the FIA and the Red Bull Ring to solve the venue’s track limits problem in 2024.

Every time F1 had visited Austria in recent years the issue came up due to the big runoff areas around very fast corners here and the 2023 event ended in a farce with the governing body unable to police around 1200 potential track limits moments during the GP.

But at the spot Piastri went off, the exit of the fast, long left-hander at the end of the second sector, the white line was moved to mean there is a 1.8m gap from the kerb to the gravel trap and not the 1.5m width that has proved so effective at the last two corners, considering an F1 car’s 2m width.

The drivers are therefore still pushing the entry point for the ensuing Turn 7 hard by staying as wide as possible out of Turn 6, but most going too wide have had Leclerc-like moments and hit the gravel.

This included Lewis Hamilton in sprint qualifying at the start of SQ3, where the Mercedes driver damaged his floor, but not Piastri during GP Q3.

Piastri then went on to criticise the situation a second time when asked to clarify his comments, with his McLaren squad understood to have asked the FIA to explain exactly why the Australian had been deemed to have gone too wide in what was a very close moment.

“For me, that was probably the best Turn 6 I took,” Piastri said, as he doubled down on his position.

“I was right to the limit of the track, I think that’s what everyone wants to see.

“Again, we’ve spent so much effort trying to get rid of these problems… there is no reason this corner should be an issue for track limits.

“Especially when you stay on the track, like I did. Or, not in the gravel.

“So, yeah, for me obviously being the only one that’s had that happen to me, I’m probably more vocal about it right now.

“But I think it’s embarrassing that you see us pushing right to the limit of what we can do and if I’m 1cm more I’m in the gravel and completely ruined my lap anyway and it gets deleted.”

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