Austrian GP Track Limits Controversy: A Closer Look at the Key Details

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The Austrian Grand Prix saw a dramatic turn of events as race control scrutinized over 1200 instances of cars allegedly exceeding track limits. The violations primarily occurred at Turns 9 and 10 on the Red Bull Ring, where drivers crossed the painted white lines marking the circuit’s edge with all four tires.

Considering the 71-lap race, this equated to an average of 17 potential incidents per lap or a total of 60 infringements per driver, with 20 drivers on the grid.

After a comprehensive review of the cases and the subsequent application of penalties, the final classification was announced at 21:46 local time—nearly 4 hours and 51 minutes after the provisional results were initially released.

The revised classification resulted in demotions for six drivers: Carlos Sainz (fourth to sixth), Lewis Hamilton (seventh to eighth), Pierre Gasly (ninth to 10th), Esteban Ocon (12th to 14th), Nyck de Vries (15th to 17th), and Yuki Tsunoda (18th to 19th).

These adjustments followed the stewards’ identification of 83 confirmed instances of track limit breaches.

Lewis Hamilton, driving for Mercedes, was the first to commit an offense in the race. Struggling with the balance of his W14 car, the seven-time champion ran wide exiting Turn 10 on lap four.

Hamilton was also the first driver to receive a reprimand, incurring a five-second penalty for four separate offenses, all of which occurred at Turn 10 as early as lap eight.

In the revised result, Alpine driver Esteban Ocon bore the brunt of the penalties. He accumulated a total of 30 seconds’ worth of penalties, distributed across four reprimands (two five-second penalties and two ten-second penalties).

According to the FIA’s penalty system, each of the first four track limit infringements carried a five-second penalty. A fifth offense resulted in a ten-second penalty. However, the count reset thereafter, requiring another four violations for an additional five-second penalty.

Ocon adhered to the track limits until lap 27, when he ran wide at Turn 10. This marked the 40th confirmed instance of a track limit violation. From that point onwards, Ocon exceeded the limits nine more times, leading the tally with a total of ten infractions and increased race time.

Notably, George Russell and Zhou Guanyu were the only two drivers who managed to complete the race without being flagged for track limit offenses.

Despite the numerous penalties imposed, none of the changes affected the standings in either the drivers’ or constructors’ championship.

Furthermore, Aston Martin’s protest, which resulted in Fernando Alonso gaining a position, contributed to team sporting director Andy Stevenson successfully representing the Silverstone squad in two instances where the race results were altered (Austria and Saudi Arabia). As a result, Aston Martin earned an additional five points, potentially elevating them above AlphaTauri in the constructors’ championship ahead of the 2023 British Grand Prix.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about track limits controversy

What were the track limits penalties in the Austrian GP?

Race control reviewed over 1200 instances of cars exceeding track limits at Turns 9 and 10. The penalties resulted in demotions for six drivers: Carlos Sainz, Lewis Hamilton, Pierre Gasly, Esteban Ocon, Nyck de Vries, and Yuki Tsunoda.

How long did it take to review the track limits cases?

The review process for the track limits cases took approximately 4 hours and 51 minutes. The final classification was declared at 21:46 local time.

Who committed the first track limits offense?

Lewis Hamilton, driving for Mercedes, committed the first offense by running wide at Turn 10 on lap four of the race.

How many penalties did Esteban Ocon receive?

Esteban Ocon, driving for Alpine, received a total of 30 seconds’ worth of penalties, including four reprimands consisting of two five-second penalties and two ten-second penalties.

Did the penalties affect the championship standings?

No, the additional penalties did not result in any changes to either the drivers’ or constructors’ championship standings.

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