What's behind FIA's change of focus on Qatar F1 track limits

Formula 1 race director Michael Masi has switched the FIA's stance on Qatar's track limits monitoring after reviewing which corners proved problematic in Friday practice.

What's behind FIA's change of focus on Qatar F1 track limits
Listen to this article

After observing what happened on track and following a discussion in the drivers’ briefing Masi has adjusted the list of corners that will be monitored from FP3 onwards.

On Thursday, in his regular notes issued to teams, Masi specified the exits of Turns 4, 12, 13, 14 and 16 as locations where he expected drivers to run wide and track limits would be monitored via timing loops in the track.

As is usually the case he stressed that any indiscretions would result in deleted lap times, and that in the race three offences would result in a black and white warning flag and a report to the stewards.

However during FP1 no drivers actually had their times deleted as Masi allowed them to learn their way around while the FIA studied where the real issues were.

Before the later FP2 session Masi issued revised notes that deleted all the specific references to corners that had previously been included.

Instead he included a more general explanation that stressed that the edge of the track was the kerb, rather than the white line, noting: “The track limit on the exit of each corner at this track is defined as when no part of a car remains in contact with the purple and white kerb.

“For the avoidance of doubt, drivers will be judged to have left the track on the exit of a corner if no part of the car remains in contact with the purple and white kerb.”

In effect that ruling covered the whole of the track rather than just the corners previously specified.

Subsequently in FP2 times were deleted at three corners that had not been singled out before, namely Turn 2 (George Russell, Daniel Ricciardo and Lando Norris), Turn 7 (Valtteri Bottas twice, Fernando Alonso twice and Charles Leclerc), and Turn 8 (Leclerc). In addition Lance Stroll lost a time at Turn 16, which had been on the original list.

After the drivers’ briefing on Friday evening Masi sent out another revised set of notes, listing Turn 2, Turn 7 and Turn 16 as the specific areas of concern. Those corners will be monitored from FP3 onwards.

An FIA spokesperson told Motorsport.com: “With this being a new venue we were always going to take a learning approach with the free practice sessions.

“We came in with a view based on simulations and evaluated through FP1. Based on that we made some changes to the [race director’s] notes in FP2 which gave us more insights, which together with the discussions in the drivers' briefing have resulted in the updated notes that went out last night.

“We understand from the outside that it may be difficult to follow, but we firmly believe that this process gives us the best possible framework to effectively police track limits when it comes to qualifying and the race."

Bottas, who lost two laps times but was still fastest on Friday, admitted to some “confusion” as where the limits were defined.

“All the run-offs are tarmac, so it’s quite easy to go off and gain time,” he said. “Even some of my fastest laps, I had confusion, I didn’t know what was allowed and what wasn’t.

“I’m sure it’s going to be a talking point in the drivers’ meeting today. It’s just the nature of the track really, and that’s creating issues.”

shares
comments

Related video

F1 teams battling kerb strike fears at Qatar GP
Previous article

F1 teams battling kerb strike fears at Qatar GP

Next article

Mercedes has "not seen Bottas as relaxed as he is now" in F1

Mercedes has "not seen Bottas as relaxed as he is now" in F1
Load comments
The six subplots to watch in 2022 as a new F1 era begins Prime

The six subplots to watch in 2022 as a new F1 era begins

As Formula 1 prepares to begin a new era of technical regulations in 2022, We pick out six other key elements to follow this season

Formula 1
Jan 24, 2022
Why newly-retired Kimi Raikkonen won't miss F1 Prime

Why newly-retired Kimi Raikkonen won't miss F1

After 349 grand prix starts, 46 fastest laps, 21 wins and one world championship, Kimi Raikkonen has finally called time on his F1 career. In an exclusive interview with Motorsport.com on the eve of his final race, he explains his loathing of paddock politics and reflects on how motorsport has changed over the past two decades.

Formula 1
Jan 23, 2022
Unpacking the technical changes behind F1 2022's rules shake-up Prime

Unpacking the technical changes behind F1 2022's rules shake-up

Formula 1 cars will look very different this year as the long-awaited fresh rules finally arrive with the stated aim of improving its quality of racing. We break down what the return of 'ground effect' aerodynamics - and a flurry of other changes besides - means for the teams, and what fans can expect

Formula 1
Jan 21, 2022
Why F1's new era is still dogged by its old world problems Prime

Why F1's new era is still dogged by its old world problems

OPINION: The 2022 Formula 1 season is just weeks away from getting underway, but instead of focusing on what is to come, the attention still remains on what has been – not least the Abu Dhabi title decider controversy. That, plus other key talking points, must be resolved to allow the series to warmly welcome in its new era

Formula 1
Jan 20, 2022
The Schumacher trait that will give Haas hope in F1 2022 Prime

The Schumacher trait that will give Haas hope in F1 2022

Mick Schumacher’s knack of improving during his second season in a championship was a trademark of his junior formula career, so his progress during his rookie Formula 1 campaign with Haas was encouraging. His target now will be to turn that improvement into results as the team hopes to reap the rewards of sacrificing development in 2021

Formula 1
Jan 19, 2022
The “glorified taxi” driver central to F1’s continued safety push Prime

The “glorified taxi” driver central to F1’s continued safety push

As the driver of Formula 1’s medical car, Alan van der Merwe’s job is to wait – and hope his skills aren’t needed. James Newbold hears from F1’s lesser-known stalwart.

Formula 1
Jan 15, 2022
When BMW added F1 'rocket fuel' to ignite Brabham's 1983 title push Prime

When BMW added F1 'rocket fuel' to ignite Brabham's 1983 title push

There was an ace up the sleeve during the 1983 F1 title-winning season of Nelson Piquet and Brabham. It made a frontrunning car invincible for the last three races to see off Renault's Alain Prost and secure the combination's second world title in three years

Formula 1
Jan 13, 2022
How “abysmal” reliability blunted Brabham’s first winner Prime

How “abysmal” reliability blunted Brabham’s first winner

Brabham’s first world championship race-winning car was held back by unreliable Climax engines – or so its creators believed, as STUART CODLING explains

Formula 1
Jan 10, 2022