Watching Formula 1 qualifying from the Buddh International Circuit (BIC) in India today, you may have been surprised at the amount of track the drivers were using during the session. As we’ve seen in Hungary and Japan, drivers have been penalized for crossing the track limits with all four wheels because this was deemed to have been an advantage but things were different at the Indian Grand Prix.
The reason is, according to AUTOSPORT’s report, that there is no discernible advantage for running wide as Red Bull’s Mark Webber said:
“You don’t want to go off as you get crap on your tyres,” he said. “It is a pain in the arse and it hurts your back as well. We want to stay on the circuit.
“It is more about the nature of the exit of Turn 11 and Turn 15 where it is not always easy to see where you will end up – as you pop out the other side.”
The blind exit’s on some of the turns at the BIC is the reason drivers gave Race Control’s Charlie Whiting and it seems for qualifying, they were allowed to use as much of the track as they wanted but the FIA have warned drivers they will crack down on that move during the race.
Marussia’s Max Chilton said:
“In the drivers’ briefing, Charlie said it was okay to run as wide as you like on exits, but you are not allowed to cut apexes,” he said.
“On the exit of a corner, he believes that here on all of the exits where you do it, there is no benefit so we can do that.”
Driver’s have commented that running on the artificial grass and curbs is slower and therefore it is a hindrance to lap time and isn’t an advantage. Perhaps, but if it were such a hindrance, why was every driver doing it for nearly every lap on most of the corners on the circuit? If it is faster to race within the circuit limits, as marked by white lines, then why weren’t the drivers doing that?
It also brings into question the verbiage, “gained advantage” in the steward’s room. What is an advantage? Daniel Ricciardo felt put upon in Japan with his penalty for running wide and didn’t feel he gained anything by doing so.
The white lines are there for a reason and the FIA does need to get on top of the waffling on this issue. Either you can or can’t run wide of the track’s limits. Even video games disqualify your lap if you run outside the track limits so it seems Codemasters has that sorted, why can’t the FIA?