F1 Track Limits Debate: What Do Sim Racers Think?

AMS2 F1 2023 Red Bull Ring Track Limits 2.png

What do you prefer for run-off?


  • Total voters
    334
The 2023 Austrian Grand Prix saw Max Verstappen take his seventh win in nine races, but the event was not remembered for the Dutchman's dominance - instead, the debate about track limit violations took the spotlight. In total, more than 1200 of them occured during the race, leading to changes in the race result hours after the finish. This begs the question: How to prevent chaos like this in the future?

A problem that many sim racers are all too familiar with, track limit violations are not exactly a new discussion point in motorsport. The slow disappearance of grass and gravel traps in favor of tarmac run-off areas from the early 2000s onwards fueled this, and most modern circuits feature these areas by now - like the Red Bull Ring, which has generous asphalt spaces outside of Niki Lauda Kurve and Remus, for example.

This results in drivers trying to extend the track as much as they can without being penalized - on the time sheets, that is, as running wide does not carry the on-track penalty it used to. As Formula One races mostly on modern purpose-built tracks and street circuits, the track limits debate has increased considerably over the last 20 years.


Other series face this issue as well, although often to a lesser degree as they include more circuits in their calendars that have a more old-school feel to them, like the IndyCar Series or GT World Challenge Europe. Drivers who run wide on tracks like Brands Hatch or Mid-Ohio risk losing control of their car and ending their races instead of gaining an advantage. Grass strips or gravel act as deterrents for extending the track.

Trade-offs for Different Solutions​

The solution is not as easy as putting gravel traps back into run-off areas on circuits around the world, as most have to accomodate both motorcycle and car racing - while the former prefers gravel traps, the latter is safer on tarmac run-off when it comes to avoiding big accidents.

Sim racers usually get hit with either a warning or an immediate slow-down penalty which add up to a stop-and-go or drive-through penalty if too many of them are incurred - but once they find out how far they can go without getting a warning, they tend to go there lap after lap, just like real racing drivers would.

AMS2 F1 2023 Red Bull Ring Track Limits.png

Running wide does not carry an immediate penalty on most modern circuits anymore, as the Austrian Grand Prix showed.

A proposed solution to this is the addition of strips of grass and/or gravel immediately next to the white lines of the track and have tarmac run-off behind this, which would combine the best of both worlds. On the other hand, this would increase the risk of accidents once again - could this downside be something that would need to be accepted in order ot have track limits respected again?

What Do You Think?​

As sim racing aims to replicate the real thing, a potential solution on the actual circuits would likely affect virtual pilots as well. What is your opinion on track limits? Are you fine with the status quo, would you welcome the return of of grass and gravel to more tracks - or do you have a different idea entirely? Let us know in the poll as well as the comments below!
About author
Yannik Haustein
Lifelong motorsport enthusiast and sim racing aficionado, walking racing history encyclopedia.

Sim racing editor, streamer and one half of the SimRacing Buddies podcast (warning, German!).

Heel & Toe Gang 4 life :D

Comments

Senseless countrywide run-off areas and sausage light are boring and soulless, so ofcourse all, except FIA, would agree that deviating from the track should always have consequences (other than unprofessional jury post race decisions).

Gravel or grass should depend on safety considerations.
High speed Pouhon or 130R doesn't exactly call for slippery wet grass, but purpose specific gravel for all weather conditions, while I think a wet Donnington 'as is' F1 GP anno 2024 should please every non Tilke-brainfarts.
And speaking Suzuka, 1st corner gravel was fine as it was before silly asphalt desert.
 
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OTHERS

if you choose asphalt
... you need cameras on each curve to detect who went outside

if you choose gravel (or similar) VERY CLOSE to the kerb... there will be A LOT OF DIRT on the track...

you must choose a NARROW kerb (CRITICAL: it must be less than the width of the car)...and RIGHT AFTER the kerb you need a SPEED REDUCERS very long (several meters) (a high curb, or potholes, or...etc) (but not something exaggeratedly high, since uncontrolled cars could jump... only high enough so that when doing fast turns, the reducer takes time)

:mad:...ugly enough that no one dares to trespass outside (you won't break the car...but a tremendous jolt will lose valuable time)...this would do:
-You don't need cameras or expensive systems to control all the cars (it would be something "passive", not active)
-There is no dirt on the track
(Do you want a driver with dizziness, or the scratched floor of the car... but nothing else)
 
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Spa has probably the best solution available, combining gravel and asphalt, trying to address safety and raceability.

In the future, I believe they will have to develop some kind of material that slows the car in a safe way. The real life version of the Assetto Corsa gravel...
 
An automated system that detects the infraction and automatically takes over the car radio and redirects to the driver radio channel to a extended car warranty call center until he stops going off track.

But answering the topic question: the solution has been known by everybody since Bernie Ecclestone decided to create endless parking lots around the corners to improve audiences by avoiding a car making a gross mistake being beached on the gravel. The solution is to install gravel traps.

Bernie Ecclestone knew that when a title contending driver beaches the car ending his race most of that driver fans shut off the TV, so Bernie pressured the tracks to install asphalt on those gravel trap zones, improving the audiences but creating a new track limits issue that has lasted until today.
 
OTHERS

if you choose asphalt
... you need cameras on each curve to detect who went outside

if you choose gravel (or similar) VERY CLOSE to the kerb... there will be A LOT OF DIRT on the track...

you must choose a NARROW kerb (CRITICAL: it must be less than the width of the car)...and RIGHT AFTER the kerb you need a SPEED REDUCERS very long (several meters) (a high curb, or potholes, or...etc) (but not something exaggeratedly high, since uncontrolled cars could jump... only high enough so that when doing fast turns, the reducer takes time)

:mad:...ugly enough that no one dares to trespass outside (you won't break the car...but a tremendous jolt will lose valuable time)...this would do:
-You don't need cameras or expensive systems to control all the cars (it would be something "passive", not active)
-There is no dirt on the track
(Do you want a driver with dizziness, or the scratched floor of the car... but nothing else)
...and no...I'm not referring to the giant yellow pianos that currently exist (sausage piano or whatever they're called)...the problem with that is that there's only ONE...and it's IN THE FAVORWAY OF THE ROAD (a car uncontrolled when going over the top.... WILL JUMP)

I say... Pianos or sediments ENOUGH high and (VERY CRITICAL) AGAINST the direction of the road (some car that exceeds it will only "vibrate"..... but a car that goes out of control in an outward direction will not be affected (is in your favor)
 
I have nothing against track limits if race control handles it in a form that is not confusing for fans at trackside/TV maybe long lap penalties like other race series have would be an option
The last Austrian GP is not the way it should be handled :(
 
Is the abrasive asphalt at Paul Ricard the right solution? Is it not able to slow down a car when one or two wheels are out of the track limits (supposing the curbs are at least as wide as the cars, which seems to be the case at Paul Ricard, these things are huge)?
 
What is F1?

Ah ok, F1 is something like WWE for motorsports. But why should it have any important role for other (sim)motorsports
That's why I'm quite delighted that FIA F1 governing body haven't eyed and invaded (and hence, "mutated") so many fantastic North- and South American racing circuits.
Just imagine if Zircuzz F1 invaded VIRginia, Elkheart Lake, Balcarce, Sears Point, Barber, Mendoza, Lime Rock, Velo Cittá, Mid-Ohio, Ciudád de Rafaela, Mosport, Curitiba, Laguna Seca, Road Atlanta, Jorge Ángel Peña, The Glen, Sebring, Brainerd, Londrina and the like.
All tracks with tons of soul and natural consequences (even Sebring).
 
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Track... kerb... then maybe a meter of grass... then gravel/sand trap. Grass makes cautious, and penalise /or if lucky get good result. But after that the gravel will punish more likely, and you can see that from dust cloud also that went way too far, (which brings life/action also) And if your tires are next to the gravel, other side tires are inside the white line automatickly. Make the widht like that. But same time at least half a car is already on the grass so... This is more natural. And keeps the race ON THE TRACK And not these stupid idiotic tarmac run off's everywhere. Oops i drove wide! Oh well i just trallallaaaaaaa continue from here... (oh yes im so pro at this) Or penalty this penalty that did he/bunch of them go over or not blaablaablaa....... Fed up for this crap...
 
Not grass, but gravel for me. Rain and grass just doesn't mix on a wet track. Too many things can go wrong. Tarmac won't work unless you have a system to call lines like they do in tennis.

Make the drivers know that if you go out there, you will stay out there. No one is coming to get you until after the race. No VSC, no SC. Just hike your butt back to the pit and we will send a truck in 2 hours.
 
Premium
A white line with Grass on the outside if there's a track limit infringement, then nature will put the driver on the naughty step.
For inside corner infringements I'd suggest a sensor plate that signals if it gets run over.
 
Racing isn't a case of drivin' Miss Daisy.
While I agree it is best for drivers to stick it within the white lines, occasionally stepping over them will happen.
Complete 'beaching' of the car not only ends their chances to further compete, it also robs the spectators when that car can no longer continue.
Penalties are fine if there was a gain from continuous infractions.
Many guys drove back to points paying positions AFTER serving them last week.
It kept the racing interesting not having those car parked.
 
That's why I'm quite delighted that FIA F1 governing body haven't eyed and invaded (and hence, "mutated") so many fantastic North- and South American racing circuits.
Just imagine if Zircuzz F1 invaded VIRginia, Elkheart Lake, Balcarce, Sears Point, Barber, Mendoza, Lime Rock, Velo Cittá, Mid-Ohio, Ciudád de Rafaela, Mosport, Curitiba, Laguna Seca, Road Atlanta, Jorge Ángel Peña, The Glen, Sebring, Brainerd, Londrina and the like.
All tracks with tons of soul and natural consequences (even Sebring).
Off topic (to a degree) but the Curitiba race track doesn't exist anymore I am afraid
 
What F1 has turned into, besides using laptop batteries from rare metals and 200kg heavier cars "to save the planet", is really kindergarten play between boys with toys. He went off, no he went off! I agree to the person mentioning spikes or lava. Here's to our champion, the first one to be driving like on a Playstation. Senna was up to 2 seconds faster than Prost on the same machinery while barely touching apex kerbs, riding turn exit ones, or touching track limit lines. The mob can decide which champion deserves his place in history.
 
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Club Staff
Premium
My preference would be track designs in which exceeding track limits cost time.
But it's also Ok not using track limits and let it free for everyone and choose for the run off the savest for the drivers.
 

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