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article imageF1 rulers leave global audience confused and fed up

By AFP     Jul 30, 2016 in Sports

Formula One's rule-makers took another U-turn on Saturday when they agreed a compromise on track limits at the first corner of the Hockenheim circuit.

In the process, they left a global audience of fans, many seasoned paddock observers, team staff and drivers confused and puzzled.

It was just one more in a series of rule changes made almost daily in the last week in a season of upheaval that began with uproar over a controversial new qualifying format introduced at the season-opening Australian Grand Prix.

Last weekend's Hungarian Grand Prix saw a stewards investigation into the meaning of waved double yellow flags which will, this weekend at the German Grand Prix, automatically engage a red flag and stop the action.

Radio communications, which had been severely restricted and resulted in penalties for leading drivers, were relaxed this week following a meeting of the F1 Strategy Group.

And on Saturday morning, in another twist, the saga of track limits was the focus of renewed attention when race director Charlie Whiting sent a note to the teams advising of a compromise arrangement that over-ruled new rule changes introduced only 24 hours earlier.

The latest decision on track limits is just one more in a series of rule changes during a Formula On...
The latest decision on track limits is just one more in a series of rule changes during a Formula One season of upheaval that began with uproar over a controversial new qualifying format introduced at the Australian Grand Prix
Ferenc Isza, AFP/File

On Thursday, the Strategy Group had voted to abolish track limits for the German Grand Prix to permit a more spectacular race with cars running wide around corners to gain speed.

Whiting, however, ruled that idea out. He said it would create chaos and decided instead to enforce limits at Turn One with an electronic sensor and penalties for those who contravened the limit three times.

Teams and drivers protested at this and raised objections with the sport's supremo Bernie Ecclestone while there were also several heated discussions on this, and other issues, during a drivers' meeting late on Friday.

"We discussed this at the Strategy Group meeting, so that we could have a 'wild' weekend here because this track has adequate run-off areas," said Ferrari team principal Maurizio Arrivabene.

"But instead, they recorded everyone who went over the white lines as if nothing was agreed. So we went to see Bernie."

The outcome was Whiting's note on Saturday which said the electronic sensor at Turn One would be moved further away from the track, permitting drivers to full the use of the kerbs.

Though the latest change was welcomed, it came too late to prevent many drivers bemoaning their situation and television commentators sympathising with fans increasingly fed up with the over-regulated sport.

Global audience of Formula One fans  many seasoned paddock observers  team staff and drivers are con...
Global audience of Formula One fans, many seasoned paddock observers, team staff and drivers are confused and puzzled after a series of rule changes and subsequent U-turns on those decisions
Sascha Schuermann, AFP/File

Two-time world champion Fernando Alonso said he felt a sense of utter despair at the constant rule changes.

Asked to comment, on his 35th birthday on Friday, Alonso said: "I don't care... I give up. They can tell us what they need to in every race.

"We know things change from race to race and now we are back to the rules we had about a year ago, more or less.

"I think it was at Spa, last year, that they got tough in terms of the radio and so on… Now, nothing has changed – or it is worse, we are going back.

"It is the same with the track limits. There were track limits last week, then this morning there weren't any, but then there were three strikes again – and now..."

His feelings were widely shared.

"When I go out during qualifying, I think I will ask what I have to do and what are the rules so I don't have to waste any more time thinking about it now."

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