New curbs will be installed at specific locations around Austin’s Circuit of The Americas for this year’s United States Grand Prix after the controversy involving Max Verstappen last season.
Verstappen was attempting to overtake Kimi Raikkonen on the final lap of the race but left the circuit on the inside of Turn 17 with all four wheels and was penalized for leaving the track and gaining an advantage. With the incident reigniting the debate over track limits in Formula 1, FIA race director Charlie Whiting says changes will be made in Austin this year.
“There’s no change of approach,” Whiting said on the topic of track limit enforcement. “But again, as we did between ’16 and ’17, if you remember Mexico 2016 we had Lewis [Hamilton] cutting across the first corner and that didn’t happen [in 2017] because of the measures that we took there.
“I think everywhere that we go now, we really are getting much closer to eliminating everything. COTA for example, needless to say there will be some low curbs in the area where Max went off and they’ll be a couple of those bumpy curbs like we have on the exit of the last corner or the exit of the first corner.”
While Whiting feels the FIA is getting close to eliminating any arguments about track limits, he says the regulations may need revisiting to combat what happens when a driver takes a penalty for leaving the track tactically, after Nico Hulkenberg passed Sergio Perez by cutting a corner at the final race of last season.
“You are learning all the time. It’s a bit like squeezing a balloon – if you squeeze it at this end, a bit pops up there, if you squeeze there a bit pops out somewhere else. That’s what’s happening but I think we are very close to being at a point where we are not concerned about a driver gaining time by going off.
“We had a couple of issues in Abu Dhabi where Nico Hulkenberg went off and it was quite clear he gained an advantage but he wouldn’t give the place back. That was expeditious to stay in front and take a five-second penalty – that was the norm. But that’s another thing we need to address.”