McLaren call for immediate action to stop repeat of big F1 problem

Jamie Woodhouse
US Grand Prix FP1 starts in Austin.

The drivers queue up for the one and only practice session at the US Grand Prix in Austin.

McLaren boss Andrea Stella is calling for change as the issue of pit-lane impeding in Formula 1 becomes increasingly prevalent.

In order to address the dangers of slow-moving traffic during qualifying as drivers prepare for their push laps, a maximum lap time is now set which a driver cannot go over during an out-lap.

However, this seemingly contributed to a fresh round of scrutiny from the stewards in Mexico with Max Verstappen, George Russell and Fernando Alonso all summoned for potentially impeding in the pit lane, though the trio were later cleared.

Andrea Stella claims F1 needs to act

Verstappen said he didn’t understand the grounds for the investigation, claiming this new delta time means that holding station in the pit lane when a car goes past on-track, to ensure there is a gap, is now the only way to do so without exceeding the time.

The three-time World Champion called for a better solution to be found, which Stella fully backs, the McLaren boss arguing it is unfair on the drivers stuck behind the one impeding.

“I think immediate action needs to be taken,” Stella is quoted by Motorsport.com. “It’s not a good spectacle.

“It makes the operations very difficult because you send your car and you actually don’t know when your car is going to get on track.

“It puts all drivers too much at the mercy of the other drivers. And this for me starts to be unfair. We need to create policy aspects and ruling aspects to control the situation, which I think is just inappropriate.”

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Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc was one of the drivers to support these calls for action from the likes of Verstappen and Stella, believing the current ruling adds an unfair “randomness” to qualifying proceedings.

“I think the biggest thing that we got rid of is a dangerous situation, especially in the last sector,” he admitted.

“Not necessarily for here [Mexico], 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.”

While Leclerc feels that a “dangerous situation” has been replaced by a consequential problem, McLaren’s Lando Norris argued that the situation created now by this maximum lap time is more dangerous than before.

“I think it’s something again that we’ve said is going to happen, is going to be problematic,” said Norris.

“Before you didn’t see too many bad scenarios, now you’ve seen some worse scenarios, because people are wanting the gaps to be even bigger.

“Everyone’s kind of pushing the limits more and more because you can get away with it.

“And because no one’s been penalised for anything, even when people have been in the wrong or should have been penalised, people are just doing massive gaps now.”

It remains to be seen how the ruling will play out this weekend, as Formula 1 arrives at Interlagos for the Brazilian Grand Prix.

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