McLaren demanding answers following Oscar Piastri’s track limits violation at Austrian GP

At the 2023 Austrian Grand Prix last Formula 1 season, track limits were a massive part of the story. Lap times being deleted for the violation dominated the entire race weekend and even led to an official protest from Aston Martin, who argued that race officials failed to catch every instance of the violation.

Race promoters at the Red Bull Ring took steps to mitigate the issue ahead of this year’s Austrian Grand Prix, installing gravel traps around Turns 9 and 10 to try and dissuade drivers from running wide at those sections of the track, and even adding another feature: An artificial intelligence system to monitor cars as they rocket around the track. Fans watching this weekend might have seen a new pale blue line around the circuit, installed to help the AI system catch violations.

Despite the best efforts of the race officials in Austria, we still have a track limits issue to discuss, and potentially a protest from a team regarding them for the second-straight season.

In the closing stages of Q3, it appeared Oscar Piastri was set for a third-place start in Saturday’s Austrian Grand Prix, as a strong lap had him up in P3 as the seconds ticked down. But within moments, Piastri was dropped down to seventh, as his impressive lap was deleted for you guessed it, exceeding track limits.

You can see the moment in question here:

Speaking with Sky Sports F1 following the session, Piastri vented his frustration.

“For me it’s embarrassing,” began the Australian driver. “We did all of this work for track limits, put gravel in places, and I didn’t even go off the track. I stayed on the track. It was probably my best Turn Six and it gets deleted. I don’t know why they’ve spent hundreds of thousands trying to change the last two corners when you still have corners you can go off.

“That was probably the best Turn Six I took. I was right to the limit of the track, I think that’s what everyone wants to see,” continued Piastri. “Again, we have spent so much effort trying to get rid of these problems. There is no reason this corner should be an issue for track limits, especially when you stay on the track, like I did, or not on the gravel.

“So, yeah, for me being the only one that has had that happen to me I’m probably more vocal about it right now but I think it’s embarrassing that you see us pushing right to the limit of what we can do and one [centimeter] more I’m in the gravel and completing ruin my lap anyway – and it gets deleted.”

Piastri, however, seemed resigned to his fate. “But, anyway, everyone else kept it in the track, I didn’t,” concluded the McLaren driver. “That’s how it goes.”

Yet, his team may not concur with that bit of resignation. Following the session McLaren Team Principal Andrea Stella was spotted headed to speak with FIA officials regarding the decision:

Could we see a protest regarding track limits at the Austrian Grand Prix for the second season in a row?

We just might.

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