During the last lap of the USGP at Austin, Max Verstappen overtook Kimi Raikkonen on the outside of the track and subsequently lost the place due to a penalty handed out minutes later. The penalty caused a lot of controversy but highlights one of the biggest issues in modern Formula One: run-off areas. In the last couple of years, use of run-off areas by drivers to gain an advantage has increased, making life difficult for the stewards. Here are three solutions for solving the problem:
Grass and Gravel
Traditional racing circuits had a very little run-off area, and the little they did was mostly grass or gravel. Probably the best way to ensure that drivers respect the boundary of the track and avoid using run-off is to convert circuits with tarmac run-off back to gravel or grass. When a driver goes off-line, he will pay for it, either with retirement or loss of time.
One of the arguments against a gravel and grass run-off is its utility to other racing categories. The change would benefit Formula One, and possibly other four-wheel series. However, MotoGP and other bike series would protest at the change. Gravel especially increases the risk of spinal injuries during an accident. The solution: add strips of grass, creating a barrier between the curb and the asphalt run-off.
The final solution involves no changes to the circuit. Instead, there should be clear penalties for any violation of track limites. For example, if a driver makes a mistakes and goes off-track, there should be an automatic penalty.