Unnamed "FIA chiefs" have spoken on this issue. And to my mind, they have spoken a lot of desperately disappointing claptrap. I must also confess to feeling some anger at the smug, complacent and downright lazy attitude of the FIA towards this issue.
Equally disappointing is Autosport's failure to quote the whole of the relevant bit of the sporting regulations.
The unnamed FIA source says: "The current rule does not say a driver cannot leave the track, it says that he may not gain an advantage by leaving the track." That's true but incomplete, for the rule also says a driver may not deliberately leave the track at all without justifiable reason. That's the bit the FIA never mentions and Autosport failed to quote, and it's also the rule the FIA is refusing to enforce and doesn't want to change:
"A driver may not deliberately leave the track without justifiable reason." (Article 20.2 SR)
The old chestnut about no advantage being possible from running off the track even when pretty much every driver is doing it pretty much every lap also features.
Autosport themselves then make a couple of interesting claims, namely: "In races, that advantage is defined as gaining position, whereas in qualifying it is judged by laptime - and there is no way of proving as fact that a driver gained an advantage through running wide and off track at a corner." Surely that can't be right - if you're running in clear air in a race, surely you're not allowed to gain laptime by exceeding the track limits and therefore gain the advantage of cutting your gap to the car ahead and/or boosting your time cushion to the car behind? And the bit about "proving as fact" simply has nothing to do with the enforcement of rules in sport. If things needed to be "proven as fact" no sporting fixture would ever be settled.
The next bit at least shows that the FIA has realised what some of us have been saying on this forum; that judges of fact would be needed out and about around the circuit in order to be able to enforce the rules properly:
The FIA said: "This would be very problematic as we would have to have observers for this specific function on every corner. This is totally unrealistic. Furthermore, there would be a deluge of miscreants before the stewards and they would be obliged to investigate every excursion."
They have this fallacy in football. They say if football players were cautioned and shown the yellow card for every minor instance of dissent, there would be a deluge of yellow and red cards in every game. But you only have to look at rugby union to see that, if a sufficiently strict line is taken on the issue of dissent then, by and large, dissent doesn't occur. It's no different with track limits in motorsport. If every instance was investigated and punished as appropriate, the number of instances would drop very quickly to nearly none.
Then to cap it off: "The whole idea is to build the tracks to ensure that no advantage can be gained by leaving the racing surface. We believe that to a large extent we've achieved that." At least they've got a sense of humour, I suppose...