Formula 1 drivers and teams are subject to a newly implemented ‘bike ban’ meaning they cannot take Thursday track rides on two wheels.
Track walking has long been an integral part of Grand Prix weekends, as drivers and their engineers take a lap while discussing the challenges of the weekend ahead.
The track walking period has its place in the official weekend timetable, and in Jeddah it was between 1 p.m. and 4:30 p.m. on Thursdays, although there is also a slot later in the evening when the track is generally open to all.
Despite the name, some riders prefer to see the track by bike, but that’s no longer possible.
With the advent of e-bikes and e-scooters, the track was getting more and more hectic during the running period, especially when support events like F2 and F3 were on show, and a line has now been drawn to forbid any form of wheeled transport.
During the recent Bahrain GP weekend, a letter was sent to the FOM teams, who as event organizer are responsible for the track between official sessions.
The note read: “To clarify and avoid any future misunderstandings, the use of any means of transportation (bicycles, e-bikes, scooters, e-scooters, etc.) is prohibited during the time window listed as ‘Team Track Walks’ on The Schedule of Events No exceptions will be allowed This decision has been agreed with the FIA.
Lando Norris, McLaren, rides his bike on the track
Photo by: Glenn Dunbar / Motorsport Images
Despite the reference to the governing body as the note came from the FOM and not the FIA, it remains to be seen what sanction, if any, could be imposed on offenders.
Asked by Motorsport.com if he’d had the chance to see the Jeddah track changes, Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc made it clear he wasn’t happy with the new edict.
“I didn’t walk around,” he said. “And since I think they just released a new thing where we can’t go around the track with a bike, you probably won’t see me around the track anymore, and I’m just going to watch the videos! “
In Saudi Arabia, teams’ track walks were further compromised by F1’s closure of the track for filming on Thursday evening at a time when some teams would normally take their walks, forcing them to change schedules and leave earlier, and in some cases without their pilots who were busy with other duties.
Nico Hulkenberg noted: “I wanted to do it now, but they blocked the track, and everything has gone wrong now! I’ll watch the safety car and see her tomorrow.”
The relevant shoot was for a music video for an upcoming new single from rapper Will.I.Am, whose crew shot scenes at various points on the track throughout the evening accompanied by an F1 show car stationary.