Valtteri Bottas contends that the FIA is not taking feedback from Formula 1 drivers seriously enough amid the recent criticism regarding its policing of track limits this year.
The debate surrounding track limits reared its head in Qatar this month as a total of 51 infringements were noted and four drivers handed multiple penalties in the race.
Although only a single driver – Alex Albon – was penalised during last weekend’s United States Grand Prix, track limits still provided a major discussion point throughout the event.
Following Friday’s running, the FIA elected to extend the track limits at certain corners overnight – including at Turn 19 where Max Verstappen was denied pole position.
Meanwhile, in Saturday’s Sprint race, George Russell was slapped with a five-second time penalty after overtaking McLaren’s Oscar Piastri outside of the white line at Turn 15.
Bottas admits he was stunned earlier changes weren’t made to combat the problem, insisting the drivers want deterrents put in place rather than having laps deleted.
“I think it’s hard work for the FIA to monitor every single driver in every single corner in every single lap, I think it’s almost impossible, so sometimes you might get away with it,” Bottas said.
“It’s tricky and it’s just track dependent, like Austin is almost provoking everyone to go to the limit, like Qatar, because there is a gain to be made if you carry more speed.
“So, there has to be a hard limit and it has been a discussion point for a long time, I think what all drivers were quite surprised was that there were no changes made from last year in Austin, there were no different kerbs or gravel strips, anything to prevent that, so we just want to see that we keep improving those things, instead of just having times deleted.
“We had issues there last year, so that needs to be changed – whether it’s gravel or some other kind of kerb to prevent us from going over.”
Asked if he thought that the drivers’ comments weren’t being considered enough by the FIA, Bottas replied: “Yes, I would say so.
“Definitively everyone had their feedback last year, so everyone was expecting some changes to be made and they weren’t, so hopefully next year.”
Valtteri Bottas (FIN) Alfa Romeo F1 Team C43. 21.10.2023. Formula 1 World Championship, Rd 19, United States Grand Prix, Austin, Texas, USA, Sprint Day.
Both Albon and Russell suggested that minor time penalties weren’t discouraging drivers from breaching track limits to overtake a slower car in order to gain clear air.
However, Bottas denies that the situation has been enough of a regular occurrence in the past to warrant such concerns.
“In some situations it could be worth it, if you’re stuck 10 laps behind a slower car and losing 10 seconds, you take five seconds, but that’s a rare situation that it can happen.”
Bottas believes that the long-standing problem regarding track limits would instantly be clamped down on if gravel was inserted on the outskirts of more corners.
Asked what can be done to ensure an unfair advantage isn’t gained, the Finn said: “It depends on the situation, if it’s clear that you overtook because you went over the track limits then you should be forced to give the position back.
“That’s a bit of an issue but, again, if there was gravel, no problem! Like, the changes they made in Austria, they were good. They were adding gravel in some places, stuff like that. And what they did in Parabolica, in Monza, there used to be this strip of gravel as well, that was better.”
The Alfa Romeo driver is optimistic that the FIA is beginning to take note of the drivers’ complaints and is hopeful that stronger solutions will be implemented next year.
“I think they’re starting to understand because it’s also so much work for them, so they are getting s*** because of it, they cannot spot every single mistake, every single situation,” he acknowledged.
“I would imagine that come next year they’ll come up with some solutions. I think they are taking this seriously.”