SPIELBERG, Austria — Max Verstappen slammed the FIA for the number of deleted lap times during qualifying for Sunday’s Austrian Grand Prix, saying it made Formula One look silly and its drivers look like amateurs.
The FIA stewards deleted 47 laps during the three qualifying sessions on Friday at the Red Bull Ring as drivers explored the limits of the final corners of the track.
That part of the circuit was being specifically monitored at the FIA’s headquarters in Geneva where it has a system similar to VAR used in professional football. Verstappen, who had a time deleted in Q2 but still advanced to the final session and took pole position for his team’s home race, felt the stewards were being too picky.
“I think today looked very silly,” Verstappen, who escaped punishment from stewards after an investigation for impeding Haas driver Kevin Magnussen on the exit of Turn 1, said. “It almost looked like we were amateurs out there, the amount lap times that were getting deleted.
“And also some of them were so marginal, where even we spoke about it in the briefing before, when it’s very marginal, it’s impossible to judge if it’s out or in. They were still getting deleted. I don’t think it was a good look today.
“Of course people can say ‘yeah, well, then you stay within the white lines.’ Well if it was that easy, then you can take my car and try, but probably you won’t even get up to speed in time.”
In response to the criticism, an FIA spokesperson said the stewards “always give the benefit of the doubt to the drivers in marginal cases.”
Modern circuits often favour runoff areas where possible as they raise the possibility of hosting international motorbike races.
“It can be easily solved by just putting gravel next to the curbs, but the bikes don’t want that,” Verstappen complained.
The Dutch driver said the white lines painted on those parts of the circuit could be bigger, given the speeds drivers are reaching when they are at that stage of the lap.
“If you saw the amount of lap times that were getting deleted today by the amount of drivers, it’s clearly not that easy. I don’t think we’re all idiots out there,” he said.
“Normally we’re quite good on how to judge what the limit is.
“Most tracks, I think it’s fine how we operate it, but some tracks we might need to look into. But at the moment also, no real answers of how to do that. I think we’ve already tried on some tracks to paint a bit of a wider white line, which I thought helped a bit.
“Because the white line in some places is quite narrow with the high speeds we are achieving in that particular corner. This is maybe something we can look into.”
Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc, who will start behind Verstappen in second, said drivers need a better reference point.
“I agree with everything,” he said. “This track is particularly tricky, especially Turn 10, because the nature of the corner is the car is getting lighter in the middle of the corner, because there is this drop in the track. And however the car is positioned there, it has a big influence on the exit, and from where we are, so low in the car, we cannot see anything.
“The helmet cam is very representative of what we are seeing, and we are not seeing at all the white lines. Hopefully in the future in tracks like this, we can have a bit more margin, and that they understand that from the car it’s impossible to judge.”
Leclerc suggested F1 reintroduce a bumpier curb used at the Red Bull Ring in previous years.
“My personal preference would be to use the red-and-white curb,” he added. “I think that’s what we did some years here, and this is working well, because at least we can feel where the limit of the track is whenever you are on that red and white curb, you can feel that you are on it. And this was a good reference.
“The white line is only visual, and as we said earlier, we cannot see it. It’s very easy to be five centimeters out of the white line, whereas a curb, you can feel where you are, and it’s easier to judge.”
Verstappen’s teammate Sergio Perez lost out to the track limits deletions in a big way, being eliminated from Q2 and qualifying in 15th.
Verstappen: Deleted lap times make F1 drivers look like ‘amateurs’