Formula 1

FIA Announces Last-Minute Track Adjustments at Circuit of The Americas for 2023 US Grand Prix

The FIA has recently implemented last-minute changes to the Circuit of The Americas for the 2023 United States Grand Prix. This action, primarily in response to the ongoing concerns about track limits, reflects a significant shift in the race’s setup following driver and team feedback.

Key Takeaways:

  • The issue of track limits at F1 races has escalated, highlighted by 51 lap times being deleted at the Qatar GP and 76 during the Austin GP’s FP1 session.
  • Max Verstappen’s fastest lap in Q3 at the Austin GP was disqualified for exceeding track limits at Turn 19, dropping him to sixth on the grid despite outperforming Charles Leclerc.
  • In response, the FIA has widened the white lines at Turns 9, 12, and 19 at the Circuit of The Americas, offering drivers more flexibility and aiming to reduce the number of invalidated lap times.

The 2023 Formula 1 season has been consistently plagued with controversies over track limits, reaching a critical point at the Circuit Of The Americas. The frequency of lap time deletions due to track limit violations has been a growing concern, with the Qatar Grand Prix and the Austin GP’s first practice session seeing a significant number of laps negated.

A notable incident that brought this issue to the forefront was the disqualification of Max Verstappen’s fastest lap in the Q3 session of the Austin GP. Verstappen, who had just edged past Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc, found his lap time invalidated due to a track limit violation at Turn 19, resulting in a fall to the sixth position on the grid.

This ongoing problem led to intense discussions during the drivers’ briefing on Friday night, culminating in the FIA’s decision to adjust track boundaries at key turns. The FIA’s statement clarified their intention: “Following discussion with the teams and drivers yesterday we have widened the white line on the outside at Turns 9, 12 and 19 – this is to give the drivers a bit of extra margin at these corners.”

While these changes are seen as a step towards resolving the track limits controversy, they have not been without criticism. Some argue that the FIA’s decision is a concession to pressures from racing teams. However, industry insiders view these adjustments as a temporary measure to prevent further disputes over track limits. This perspective is reinforced by ongoing refinements to the FIA’s data system, aimed at more accurately and promptly addressing marginal track limit violations. The developments at the Circuit Of The Americas are a clear indication of the evolving nature of Formula 1 racing, where regulations and track configurations are continually adapted to maintain the integrity and excitement of the sport.

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