The track limits have always brought controversial situations within the world of Formula 1. There are occasions that even these benefit certain drivers, but there are many times when it hurts them. Before each Grand Prix, the International Automobile Federation (FIA) dictates what the track limits will be that will be observed throughout the weekend. Every corner that is at the track has a kerb, however, just before it starts, there is a white line painted on the track. This is the limit of it. If the drivers put all four wheels of their car outside of this line, it is considered that they have exceeded the limits of the track. What is the penalty? If it is during a free practice session or qualifying, the lap time is cancelled; if it is during the race, they have 2 warnings and on the third occasion a 5-second penalty is imposed.
Another issue that these famous track limits are overtaking, a topic that we will talk about in this article. Yesterday, during the United States Grand Prix, Kimi Raikkonen overtook Fernando Alonso off-track. It was at Turn 1, which is on a small hill and most of the passes are usually made thanks to the late braking of the driver who is performing the manoeuvre. This time, Fernando covers the inside, forcing Kimi to go round the outside. At the moment of being wheel to wheel at the exit of the corner, the two veteran drivers make contact, which causes Kimi's four tyres to be off the track. However, Kimi did not slow down and managed to pass, a fact that angered Alpine and Fernando himself. Radios could be heard between F1 race director, Michael Masi, and Alpine, commenting on his frustration at not getting his position back. Masi has commented that this topic will be discussed during the next drivers' meeting during the Mexican Grand Prix.
“I can understand his frustration, I’ve not heard his frustration, but I can understand it.” Michael Masi stated.
“The call with regards to him and Kimi at Turn 1 was certainly marginal. And something we’ll have a discussion with the next drivers meeting with all the drivers about it. I think there were two parts of the story, obviously the overtake and looking at the forcing off track. And then the subsequent element of the overtake.”
“It’s something we’ll discuss as a group at the next meeting.” He affirmed.
In this case, there are two possible penalty grounds. The first would be against Fernando Alonso for forcing another driver off track and the second would be against Kimi Raikkonen for going off track and gaining an advantage. It was here that the FIA found itself in a difficult position as there will always be a driver affected, that is why the issue will be discussed in more depth with the drivers.
“Marginally, they [the stewards] made the decision ‘let’s just leave it as it is’. But there is certainly no doubt it will be discussed at the next drivers’ meeting.”