Emilia-Romagna GP: F1 drivers to again face strict Imola rules to penalise driving off track

15 April 2021, 12:13 | Updated: 15 April 2021, 15:44

The FIA has outlined the strict track limits that will be again imposed at three corners of this weekend's Emilia-Romagna GP to penalise drivers who gain an advantage by running off track.

Three weeks after controversy during the season-opening Bahrain GP over the policing of drivers running wide off track, a situation Mercedes boss Toto Wolff said was confusing, FIA race director Michael Masi has detailed how the situation will be monitored for this weekend's second round at Imola.

Almost identical rules were in force at Imola from qualifying onwards at last November's event.

Drivers will have lap times deleted in any session if they are judged to have left the track at three corners - the exits of Turn Nine and 15 (also beyond the red, white and green kerb), and the apex of Turn 13.

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During the race, three such indiscretions in total across any of those three corners will result in a driver receiving a black-and-white warning flag, with any further instances referred to the stewards who could impose a penalty.

Additional deterrents have been added to the 4.9km layout for 2021 - with yellow bumps added behind the apex of Turn 13 and the one at the apex of Turn 14 extended.

Verstappen says drivers will seek clarity

In an epic battle with Lewis Hamilton in Bahrain, Max Verstappen had to give the lead back to his Mercedes rival after passing the Englishman at Turn Four with all four wheels off the track.

Although the Dutchman had no issues with the instruction to cede the position, he felt there was still inconsistency with how track limits were policed in the race with drivers running wide at the same corner when out of combat too.

"Either you can go wide, or not," he said.

"I can understand of course with my overtake outside the track limits that that's not allowed, so that's fine. But if you cannot gain an advantage by going wide while overtaking why are you allowed to do it on your own? I think it's not correct, so we'll talk about that with the drivers and Michael. We'll see what comes out of it.

"It was a little bit messy in the race, everything before that was very strict and I think good. In the race, for 30 laps or something, Lewis was going wide and you gain time there. I tried it for two laps and then they told me not to, so it's a bit odd.

"But about my overtake, that was fully understandable."

Track limit rules for the Emilia-Romagna GP explained

Turn Nine - Exit
a) A lap time achieved during any practice session or the race by leaving the track on the exit of Turn Nine, will result in that lap time being invalidated by the stewards. A driver will be judged to have left the track if no part of the car remains in contact with the track.

Turn 13 - Apex
a) A lap time achieved during any practice session or the race by leaving the track on the apex of Turn 13, will result in that lap time being invalidated by the stewards. A driver will be judged to have left the track if no part of the car remains in contact with the track.

Turn 15 - Exit
a) A lap time achieved during any practice session or the race by leaving the track and cutting behind the red, white and green kerb on the exit of Turn 15, will result in that lap time being invalidated by the stewards.

General - Turn Nine Exit, Turn 13 Apex and Turn 15 Exit
a) Each time any car fails to negotiate Turn Nine Exit, Turn 13 Apex or Turn 15 Exit by using the track as described above, teams will be informed via the official messaging system.

b) On the third occasion of a driver failing to negotiate Turn Nine Exit and/or Turn 13 Apex and/or Turn 15 Exit by using the track during the race, he will be shown a black and white flag, any further cutting will then be reported to the stewards. For the avoidance of doubt, this means a total of three occasions combined not three at each corner.

c) In all cases detailed above, the driver must only re-join the track when it is safe to do so and without gaining a lasting advantage. d) The above requirements will not automatically apply to any driver who is judged to have been forced off the track, each such case will be judged individually.