In the qualifying session for the Austrian Grand Prix, several drivers had their laps deleted for running too wide out of the final two corners, mirroring a similar issue from the previous year. Max Verstappen, who eventually secured the top spot, expressed his frustration, stating that it appeared as though they were amateurs on the track. During the post-qualifying press conference, Verstappen, Charles Leclerc, and Carlos Sainz were asked about potential solutions to the problem.
Verstappen highlighted the difficulty of judging the track limits at this particular circuit. He explained that the layout and tire characteristics cause overheating, making it challenging for drivers to stay within the boundaries. Verstappen acknowledged that some tracks may require adjustments to address this issue, and suggested widening the white lines as a potential solution. He mentioned that this approach had been tried on a few circuits and had some positive effects. Verstappen emphasized the need for further examination of the problem and possible improvements.
Leclerc agreed with Verstappen‘s suggestion of widening the white lines at Turn 4, a long, downhill right-hand corner where drivers can lose time if they run too wide. However, Leclerc did not believe this solution would be effective for the Turns 9 and 10 double right sequence that concludes the lap at the Red Bull Ring. He pointed out that the main problem in this section is visibility. Leclerc explained that due to the nature of the corner and the drop in the track, the car becomes lighter, making it challenging to see the white lines. He expressed hope for increased margin and understanding from the track officials in such situations.
Sainz proposed another idea to address the visibility problem. He suggested that if drivers could feel the white line when driving over it, it would assist in judging the track limits. This would provide a tactile reference for the drivers to determine whether they are within the boundaries or not.
Verstappen shared his perspective on the previous decision to remove small yellow sausage kerbs from the final corners ahead of the 2020 races in Austria. While those kerbs acted as physical deterrents to drivers exceeding the track limits, Verstappen believed their removal was beneficial, as they were causing damage to the cars. He also discussed the possibility of adding temporary gravel traps to the final turns, but acknowledged the cost implications and the concerns of other motorsports, such as MotoGP, regarding permanent gravel. Verstappen expressed a desire to find a solution through further discussions and possibly at the drivers’ meeting.
Leclerc proposed a return to using the painted kerbs to define the track limits at this circuit. In previous years, the red and white kerbs were considered as the boundary, allowing drivers to feel where the edge of the track was. Leclerc argued that this approach provided a clearer reference point compared to the visual white line, which can be difficult to see. He stated his preference for the red and white kerb to be reinstated as the track limit.
In conclusion, the drivers expressed their concerns and offered various suggestions to address the track limits issue at the Austrian Grand Prix. Widening the white lines, improving visibility, and revisiting the use of painted kerbs were proposed as potential solutions by Verstappen, Leclerc, and Sainz. It remains to be seen how the organizers and officials will respond to these suggestions and work towards finding a satisfactory resolution.