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F1 drivers back Austria GP track limits experiment

Formula 1 drivers have come out in favour of the FIA’s track limits experiment at the Austrian Grand Prix.

At Turn 9 and 10, which was the site of hundreds of track limits offences last year, the FIA and the Red Bull Ring have installed narrower kerbs bordered by strips of gravel, which slow down drivers before they cross the white line.

The new solution wasn’t perfect, and Oscar Piastri’s deleted lap in qualifying after marginally crossing the line in Turn 6 prompted further debate, but on the whole, drivers have backed what was done to Turns 9 and 10.

“I think it’s definitely one that works very well here this weekend, that’s proven for sure,” said Haas’s Nico Hulkenberg.

“There are other solutions, we have other tracks recently where with different types of kerbs that also kind of make it very impossible to run wide, so that kills track limits.”

Fernando Alonso said not having to wait for endless stewards’ hearings and decisions has made the weekend much more straightforward, even if he was struggling for performance in the Aston Martin.

“I think we should be happy with this solution,” he said. “I don’t think that we had to wait too much to see who is on pole, who is not, to review the laps and things like that. So it’s much [more] straightforward like that. All in all, positive feedback.”

But with gravel being scooped back onto the circuit by drivers that go off, the current experiment isn’t entirely without its flaws either.

“I don’t know if it’s a perfect solution, but it is a better solution,” said Alpine driver Pierre Gasly.

Daniel Ricciardo, RB F1 Team VCARB 01

Photo by: Zak Mauger / Motorsport Images

“Maybe we can think about if there is anything better, but sometimes arriving in a corner with quite a lot of gravel on your line, it’s not ideal.

“But it definitely seems to work and it’s better than what we’ve seen last year with the penalties after the race, so a good improvement.”

Daniel Ricciardo said he was tempted to duck to protect his knuckles when drivers in front of him threw up rocks of gravel.

“Obviously, when people go off all the gravel gets dragged on the track, so every run you do have to finish a little bit narrower because there’s gravel creeping more and more onto the circuit. So that’s the only downside,” he said.

“In the sprint race I think Hulkenberg went off a couple of times on the last corner – take those hands off the wheel if you can! Because those rocks hurt like hell! It’s a few little things, but in general, I’m happy with it.”

The improvements were somewhat overshadowed on Saturday night by Piastri’s deleted lap, which prompted an unsuccessful protest by McLaren.

“We’ve done a lot of good work as a sport getting rid of these track limits issues. Amazingly, I’ve managed to find that there is still one somewhere,” said the Australian.

“So, obviously very frustrating. Another centimetre to the right and I would have been in the gravel and my lap would have been over.

“And I think for me that’s what racing in F1 should be all about. Pushing the limits and taking the risks.”

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