Formula 1 needs to adopt Codemasters' strict track limits rules

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Formula 1 is back, and it was an awesome race! With great battles in the midfield and the start of a true title fight between Lewis Hamilton and Max Verstappen.

However, it is track limits that really ruled the weekend.

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Their use, abuse, and seemingly random enforcement throughout the Bahrain Grand Prix weekend have been the main talking point. This is a continuation of recent years where the rules on the boundary of the track seem to change week-to-week.

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The FIA may not have a clear solution here, but Codemasters certainly does!

Shifting goalposts

Unless there is a wall, grass, or gravel directly against the track, where the absolute limit is seems to always be moving.

One week it is the white line, but then at the next circuit keeping just one wheel on the kerb is fine. At Bahrain the posts seemed to move regularly, with times being deleted for extending at turn 4 on Saturday, but then the corner not being monitored during the race.

The constant changes, along with some tracks being more "friendly" for extensions than others, means that most weekends the commentators spend a lot of time discussing what is and isn't allowed, and why drivers are seemingly running wide on some corners.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-ISi-IQE64A

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While the FIA may say the drivers gain no lasting advantage there so it's fine, as Martin Brundle puts it "They wouldn't be out there if it didn't give them an advantage".

Time and time again fans have watched drivers fly wide on some corners to carry more speed through to the next braking point. Sometimes this has resulted in the addition of sausage kerbs, and sometimes it is just ignored.

The result is angry fans unsure of what the rules are or why they are always changing. It also leads to a LOT of social media arguments over bias toward drivers and what should or should not have happened.

It seems like the FIA has no answer to all this, but Codemasters does...

Strict enforcement

As any F1 gamer can tell you, abusing track limits in Codemasters' F1 games is impossible when you set the rules to "strict".

On strict you have to keep a tyre inside the white lines that border the track. Going outside of these lines results in a lap invalidation in qualifying, and a warning in the race. Three warnings and you get yourself a three second penalty.

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NO ARGUMENT HERE: A barrier is the best way to monitor track limits, but it's not so great for safety!
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While on "regular" you can fly wide at some corners and gain an advantage on your lap, F1 Esports and all the Time Trial leaderboards are run with strict rules.

Now, these aren't perfect. There are still some holes where leaving the track and then re-entering a few corners later is not detected. That's how some tracks (France in particular) can have time trial times that are seconds quicker than what Esports drivers can muster. But it is far more consistent and matches what fans see better than the current FIA enforcement.

By strictly enforcing the track limits, you see F1 Esports drivers forced to drive the circuit as intended. No wide exits at turn 4 in Bahrain or turn 19 at CotA. Sure, it can result in a few penalties throughout an esports race, but it avoids a contested result that sours fans, such as F1 had on Sunday.

track limits f1 game
THE DREADED FLAG: No one likes getting a PB deleted

Strict rules would have seen Hamilton racking up time penalties on Sunday, and would have forced Max to give the lead back after he completed his pass off the track.

In other words, it would have been consistent and fair. That's really all fans want, consistent stewarding and fair outcomes. Even if Lewis' track limits exploit gained 0.05s each time, that adds up to 1.45s gained. Double his eventual margin of victory...

Codemasters has the answer to F1 fans woes, the FIA just needs to follow their lead. Sure, drivers would complain when handed 15 seconds worth of penalties during a race, but they are the best drivers in the world, they can manage to get round a corner legally if they want to.

F1 2021 release date

Formula 1 fans don't have to wait too much longer for the new game. F1 2021 should land in late June/early July 2021.

Codemasters is yet to announce the game. However, that release window has been the game's home for the last few years.

If it is to be again this year, we expect a launch trailer and announcement in mid/late April.