Stewards recommend tweaking pit lane rules after Haas investigation

Michelle Foster
Kevin Magnussen and Mick Schumacher in the pit lane exit queue. Baku June 2022

After Haas were investigated for breaching the pit lane rules as they squeezed into the queue in Baku, the stewards have recommended Formula 1 review that regulation.

Formula 1 has a rule in place that prevents drivers from pushing into the queue that often forms in the pit lane during qualifying, especially at the start of each session or after a restart following a red flag.

Article 34.8 of F1’s Sporting Regulations states: “Any car(s) driven to the end of the pit lane prior to the start or restart of a practice session must form up in a line in the fast lane and leave in the order they got there unless another car is unduly delayed.”

Haas drivers Mick Schumacher and Kevin Magnussen were said to have breached the rule in Q1 at the Azerbaijan Grand Prix as the duo shuffled their way into the queue.

They were investigated after qualifying, with the stewards declaring no action was necessary as it was the positioning of the Haas box in the pit lane that had created the problem.

Last in the 2021 championship, Haas’ garage is at the very end of the pit lane which means even if they are the second team to try to join the queue, their cars cannot always squeeze into the fast lane if other cars are already lined up.

The Baku stewards said in their notes they “accept the positioning of the pit garage for the team made it impossible in the circumstances for either team car to line up in order in the fast lane, in view of the number of cars already there.

“It is noted both cars departed in a safe manner and further that it would have been extremely difficult, if not impossible, for the team to determine which order the cars should depart, leaving the only option as starting behind all other cars.

“This effectively means teams allocated pits at the exit of the pit lane will always have to exit last unless they choose to leave their garage significantly earlier.”

The stewards recommended the rule be looked at.

“The stewards recommend this particular regulation be examined, as this case is almost identical to that involving Williams Racing in Mexico 2021 where no further action was taken,” they said.

Last season, Williams were called before the stewards at the Mexican Grand Prix when their drivers lined up out of position as they exited the last garage in the pit lane.

Williams’ head of vehicle performance, Dave Robson, said at the time: “We are not entirely sure why it’s such an issue.

“There was a queue in the fast lane and they are blocking our way, it’s a little bit awkward to get out.

“What we did was the best we could do and the correct thing to do, so I don’t think anything will come of it.”

In that instance, the stewards also declared “it is difficult for the driver, having moved out of his garage, to determine exactly where he should filter into the line of cars once they start to leave the pit lane”.