Max Verstappen ‘doesn’t really understand’ grounds for Mexico GP investigation

Jamie Woodhouse
Red Bull driver Max Verstappen.

Red Bull driver Max Verstappen speaks to the media.

Max Verstappen says a re-think is needed on the minimum delta times, after facing an FIA investigation for impeding in the Mexico pit lane.

The Q1 session triggered a plethora of FIA investigations, Verstappen included as he, Fernando Alonso and George Russell were picked up by the stewards for potentially impeding in the pit lane.

All three were later cleared though, meaning Verstappen will start the Mexican Grand Prix from P3.

Max Verstappen does not understand pit-lane impeding logic

The drivers are set a minimum lap time which they must adhere to through qualifying, that timer not starting until they reach the second Safety Car line which is after the pit lane, leading to growing instances of drivers holding station in the pit lane to build a gap to cars out on the track, but holding up their peers in the pit lane at the same time.

Verstappen then is not sure why it has been flagged up as a potential offence, arguing that is the “only” way to now control the gap to a car ahead on the track, and so calls for a different solution.

“I think it’s all imperfect at the moment, so we need to come up probably with something else, but it’s hard,” he told media personnel.

“Just the thing I don’t understand is like everyone is trying to make a gap now in the pit lane, which is the only place where we can do so. So I don’t really understand how you can be impeding someone.

“I think we have to be a little bit more lenient with that, knowing that it’s a safe environment. I mean, we’re driving really slow, it’s the only place where we can make a gap because, I mean, we drive out of the box and of course we are in the beginning of the pit lane, we don’t know of course what other people are doing.

“So you are constantly of course then trying to judge the gap. You don’t want to start a lap within three, four seconds of someone, because that’s really bad for following.

“But then on the other end, if we wouldn’t have had this kind of minimum lap time, then maybe you have some impeding into the last sector again, so it’s quite tough I guess to find a good compromise.”

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Charles Leclerc backs Max Verstappen call for change

Leclerc, who will launch from pole in Mexico, pointed out venues such as Spa where this minimum time intervention has been positive to stop dangerously slow-moving traffic, though acknowledges that fresh issues have also been sparked.

Like Verstappen, he says it is difficult to create the gap to a car ahead without using a delay in the pit lane to do so.

“Very similar thinking,” he said in reference to Verstappen.

“I think the biggest thing that we got rid of is a dangerous situation, especially in the last sector. Not necessarily for here, because the last sector is at a pretty low speed, but in Spa by example, sometimes we will have difference of speed between cars that will be crazy. And with that, I think it’s been quite a good solution for that.

“On the other hand, it has created other problems that are not great, obviously the end of the pit lane, but this is I think the least of the problems.

“But the biggest one that I found myself quite a lot in is whenever, especially in Q1, you’ve got two cars that are in a different sequence and if you get out the pits and you pass the Safety Car line too at the same time as a car out on track, then you are basically done, because both of the cars are respecting the minimum lap time and you cannot open the gap and you just have to either fight the car like I did in Qatar with Fernando [Alonso], or your lap is done.

“So this is something that it will be good to look at it, because there’s a bit of randomness in that which is not great. And again on the thing at the end of the pit lane, it’s the only place where we can open the gap, so difficult to do otherwise.”

Leclerc’s Ferrari team-mate Carlos Sainz, who joins him on the front row, agrees with the comments made and says ideas are already being floated to address the situation looking ahead to next season.

“Yeah, I agree,” he began. “I think we just need to sit down now and find an even better solution for next year and for the future, because this one has yes moved the problem to the pit lane, but we’re still not happy with the situation at the pit lane.

“We already had a couple of ideas to improve it for next year, but it needs some change in regulations and that requires a different year and a change from the FIA also.”

Should Verstappen take victory in Mexico, it would be a record-breaking 16th of his F1 2023 campaign.

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