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McLaren protests Austrian GP qualifying result over Piastri track limits ruling

McLaren has protested the result of qualifying for Formula 1’s Austrian Grand Prix after feeling that Oscar Piastri’s track limits penalty could not be proved beyond reasonable doubt.

Piastri lost his third place on the grid for Sunday’s race after the FIA deemed that he had breached track limits at Turn 6 on the final run in Q3.

But after the Australian questioned whether or not he had run too wide, McLaren opened dialogue with the FIA to better understand the ruling and in particular, asked to see clear evidence that the McLaren had been outside the white line that defines the edge of the track.

However, in the wake of McLaren team principal Andrea Stella saying that the FIA had been unable to provide crystal clear images that showed Piastri was fully over the line, the team decided to lodge an official protest.

“We launched a protest, which has been acknowledged but not been actioned yet, because we want to have the possibility to continue the conversation,” he said.

“Our approach to racing is we don’t want what we don’t deserve. But when the penalty is so harsh, then in the interest of sport – it’s not in the interest of McLaren – there needs to be clear evidence.”

Stella said that the images shown to McLaren that the FIA said indicated Piastri was outside the line were not clear enough to be totally sure that the Australian had breached the rules.

Oscar Piastri, McLaren MCL38

Photo by: Zak Mauger / Motorsport Images

“We sought clarification in particular because we wanted to look at the evidence whereby the car was beyond the track limits beyond any reasonable doubt,” he said. “I cannot say that the beyond reasonable doubt is satisfied.

“There’s a couple of principles. One is that the system used needs to have adequate resolution, and the second one is that the methodology used for one car needs to be applicable to all cars.

“If you use a helicopter view for a car, you need to use the helicopter view and it needs to be available for all cars. We are normally very supportive of the FIA. We always recognise that everyone is trying their best.

“But in this case, we couldn’t agree that the car is beyond the track limit beyond any reasonable doubt, and satisfying the two conditions I said before. So, the discussion is still ongoing.”

Stella said that the key problem with the images McLaren had been shown is that they were not of high enough resolution, and were impacted by shadows too much.

“What we used is a fixed camera and a helicopter view,” added Stella. “But in both cases, and like I say, we really appreciate the massive effort to enforce the regulations, but I don’t think we can say that the resolution is adequate.

“We had a case last year in Qatar, when Lando [Norris] was spotted beyond the track limits by the helicopter view and there’s clear resolution and accuracy. The car is outside. Thank you very much. We move forward.

“But in this case, it’s just everything blurred and affected by the shadow. It’s quite a lot to come here, compete, put together qualifying laps, and when the penalty is so severe, like having the lap deleted, then we need to make sure that the penalty is enforced beyond any reasonable doubt.”

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