Max Verstappen’s simple solution to ‘imperfect’ qualifying rules

Michelle Foster
Carlos Sainz, pole-sitter Charles Lelerc and Max Verstappen attend the post-qualifying press conference.

Max Verstappen's solution to 'imperfect' qualifying rules

Investigated after qualifying at the Mexican Grand Prix for potentially impeding in the pit lane, Max Verstappen believes the “imperfect” rule about the maximum time between the Safety Car lines has created the pit lane situation.

Verstappen along with Fernando Alonso and George Russell had to see the stewards after Saturday’s qualifying having backed up other cars while leaving the pit lane in a bid to create a gap for clean air.

But with the driver having to adhere to a maximum delta lap time while out on track, which prevents them from going too slowly out on the circuit, all three teams argued the pit lane was the only place to create space. All three escaped without punishment.

Max Verstappen calls for ‘a little bit more’ leniency

But it begs the question of what can be done to resolve the issue as this wasn’t the first qualifying session that ended with drivers heading to the stewards’ office for “unnecessarily impeding” at the pit exit.

Verstappen reckons a bit of leniency from the FIA would go a long way towards at least bringing an end to the stewards’ meetings.

“I think it’s all imperfect at the moment. So, we need to come up with something else, but it’s hard,” said the Red Bull driver.

“Yeah, I 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.

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

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

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

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Charles Leclerc questions delta lap time rule

However, pole-sitter Charles Leclerc believes the FIA also needs to look at the delta lap time regulation.

That states that drivers must be below a set lap time with the timer for that starting when they reach the second Safety Car line that’s after the pit lane. That Leclerc feels has ruined many a lap this season.

“Very similar thinking,” said the Mexican GP pole-sitter. “I think the biggest thing that we got rid of is dangerous situations especially in the last sector.

“Not necessarily for here, because the last sector is pretty low speed but in Spa, for example, sometimes we will have a 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 find myself quite a lot in, in 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 2 at the same time as a car out on track, then you are basically done because you have to…

“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, or your lap is done.

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

Carlos Sainz has called for a sit down with the FIA to find a better solution.

“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 just moved the problem to the pit lane but we’re still not happy with the situation at the pit lane,” he said.

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

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