Max Verstappen secured a dominant victory at the Red Bull Ring, finishing ahead of Ferrari‘s Charles Leclerc and his own teammate Sergio Perez. However, the race result was soon cast into doubt as Aston Martin launched a protest regarding track limit violations that were not penalized correctly.
The FIA confirmed that they were unable to review over 1200 instances where drivers had exceeded the track limits at Turns 9 and 10. These violations were not flagged and penalized during the 71-lap race.
Upon further investigation, the stewards were provided with a list of deleted lap times from race control, revealing additional infringements that had not previously been addressed. Subsequently, 12 penalties were handed out based on the following criteria: three infringements resulted in a black-and-white warning flag, four infringements incurred a five-second penalty, five infringements warranted a 10-second penalty, and thereafter, for every four further infringements, another five-second penalty would be applied due to the excessive number of violations.
As a consequence of the review, Carlos Sainz dropped two positions to sixth in the final classification. Initially, he had served a five-second penalty during his second pitstop, but this was elevated to a 10-second penalty.
This demotion means that Sainz now falls behind McLaren‘s Lando Norris and Aston Martin‘s Fernando Alonso. In a similar vein, Lewis Hamilton, driving for Mercedes, has been downgraded from a five to a 10-second penalty, resulting in him falling one position behind his teammate George Russell in eighth place.
However, the biggest loser from this review is Esteban Ocon, who incurred a total of four separate penalties amounting to a 30-second hit. Ocon‘s original 12th-place finish has been revised to 14th place.
Other drivers who have also been penalized include Pierre Gasly (now 10th), the Williams duo of Alex Albon (11th) and Logan Sargeant (13th), as well as the AlphaTauri drivers Nyck De Vries (17th) and Yuki Tsunoda (19th).
It should be noted that teams do have the right to appeal these new decisions within a specified timeframe.
One of the key frustrations expressed by teams is the delayed enforcement of track limits. Had the limits been more rigorously policed, teams could have potentially warned their drivers after receiving a black-and-white flag, indicating that they were on the brink of incurring a five-second penalty.
The stewards also strongly recommended finding a solution to the issue of track limits. Previously, the FIA had urged the Red Bull Ring management to install gravel traps at Turns 9 and 10, similar to the one at Turn 4. However, due to the circuit’s hosting of motorcycle championship events like MotoGP, these changes were not implemented.
In light of the findings, the revised classification for the Austrian Grand Prix is as follows:
1. Max Verstappen – Red Bull/Honda RBPT
2. Charles Leclerc – Ferrari
3. Sergio Perez – Red Bull/Honda RBPT
4. Lando Norris – McLaren/Mercedes
5. Fernando Alonso – Aston Martin/Mercedes
6. Carlos Sainz – Ferrari
7. George Russell – Mercedes
8. Lewis Hamilton – Mercedes
9. Lance Stroll – Aston Martin/Mercedes
10. Pierre Gasly – Alpine/Renault
11. Alexander Albon – Williams/Mercedes
12. Zhou Guanyu – Alfa Romeo/Ferrari
13. Logan Sargeant – Williams/Mercedes
14. Esteban Ocon – Alpine/Renault
15. Valtteri Bottas – Alfa Romeo/Ferrari
16. Oscar Piastri – McLaren/Mercedes
17. Nyck De Vries – AlphaTauri/Honda RBPT
18. Kevin Magnussen – Haas/Ferrari
19. Yuki Tsunoda – AlphaTauri/Honda RBPT
– Nico Hülkenberg – Haas/Ferrari
It remains to be seen if any teams will exercise their right to appeal these revised decisions. The incident highlights the need for greater consistency in enforcing track limits and finding a practical solution for maintaining the integrity of the race.