Charles Leclerc, Ferrari, Monza, 2019

‘No simple rules fix’ for F1’s Monza Q3 farce

2019 Italian Grand Prix

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Formula 1 will hold further discussions on how to prevent a repeat of the farcical situation during qualifying for the Italian Grand Prix.

Eight out of nine drivers failed to being their final flying laps in time at Monza. Three of them were given reprimands after it was found they had driven too slowly and held up the field on their out-laps because they did not want to be left at the front of the pack without the benefit of a slipstream.

Some drivers have suggested the problem is unlikely to be repeated at many of the remaining tracks this year as the tow effect will be less beneficial than at Monza. However the sport is seeking a rules fix which will ensure it doesn’t happen again.

FIA race director Michael Masi said discussions began following the previous race at Spa where some drivers had also slowly down significantly on their out-laps in Q3.

“Everyone in the room, sporting directors and drivers, acknowledge that there is not a simple regulatory fix for it,” said Masi. So that’s something we had already agreed with the sporting directors.

“We’ll have a more in-depth discussion at Singapore and a few of the teams have already started coming up with simulations of how that could possibly be rectified because it’s in everyone’s best interests. So I think that’s the best comment out of that one.”

F1 tried to pre-empt the situation which unfolded at Monza by informing drivers the minimum Safety Car lap time would be used to judge if they had driven too slowly on their out-laps. Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff believes a version of this approach could solve the problem.

“I think defining some kind of minimum lap time delta for an out-lap [is] something which we should try to achieve,” he said when asked by RaceFans. “I think it’s achievable.

“Nobody wants to see what happened [at Monza].”

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Dieter Rencken
Dieter Rencken has held full FIA Formula 1 media accreditation since 2000, during which period he has reported from over 300 grands prix, plus...
Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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  • 46 comments on “‘No simple rules fix’ for F1’s Monza Q3 farce”

    1. This doesn’t need a rule – heck, it doesn’t even need fixing. If drivers want to screw themselves out of a quali lap, they are only screwing themselves. Let them do it!
      We should be arguing for a simpler rulebook, not trying to regulate driver stupidity.

      1. My thoughts exactly! Why waste time on some ‘regulatory fix’ at all? All those high-caliber strategic minds just should do better than that…that’s all.

        1. The problem was the nonsense about trying to stop drivers from towing in their quali laps.

      2. Exactly, and it happened once! If it becomes a habit then it’s still driver stupidity but you could at least look at it then. But _until_ then, leave them at it.

      3. Couldn’t have put it better.

        It was a farce, yes, but I was laughing at the screen to see the teams shooting themselves in the foot. The only thing that would have made it better was if 2-3 drivers made actual timed runs (instead of just one as actually occurred), and ended up stealing some good starting positions.

        1. @phylyp Two. Leclerc didn’t get flagged either, so was allowed to complete the lap at full-speed, but eventually decided to abort the lap.

          1. @jerejj – yeah, since Leclerc aborted the lap, I didn’t count him as making an actual timed run, but only counted Sainz – i.e. there was only one driver we were waiting to see at the start/finish line to see if he improved on his time.

            It would have been more fun if – say – we had Sainz, Ricciardo and maybe Hulkenberg doing runs, and some of them displacing some of the Ferraris and Mercs (unlikely at Monza, but one can hope elsewhere).

            1. Not really, if there’s something renault showed at monza it was engine power (unusual), their chassis is worse!

      4. I absolutely agree with you that we have enough rules already. I also agree that the drivers are screwing themselves. I do not, however, agree on your analysis saying they are only screwing themselves. Thousands of people have paid lots of money to watch the f1 race (including qualifying). They expect the driver to show what the cars are capable of under ideal circumstances in q3– not hold each other up and behave like children.

        1. On my saturday- ticket to a race, it does not say which driver will attend Q3. And it does not say how many runs I’ve paid to watch, either…..

      5. Completely agree. The jockeying for position is reminiscent of boat racing prestarts and cycle racing prestarts, if it becomes a feature of qualy (something I sincerely doubt) it will become a tactical thing and gives an opportunity and incentive for runners to run a bit earlier to avoid the gaggle.
        Nothing wrong with drivers saying they messed up or miss judged their Qualy lap, nothing wrong discussing they messed up their outlap either.

      6. +1 Fixing a problem that doesn’t need fixing. It was quite entertaining and I’d happily watch the jockeying and red-faces again next year !

    2. Eight out of nine drivers failed to being their final flying laps in time at Monza

      I thought LEC and SAI both started their lap? Also typo.

      1. They keep trying to push the myth that LEC didn’t make it in time even though his team forgave him for screwing the team out of a 1-2 pole.
        As for the crew posting that it is fine for drivers to screw themselves, it is, but there was also some blocking going on which resulted in screwing a few others. Some of the middle tier teams were trying to get laps in, the top teams were playing games.
        Ferrari knew what Mercedes was going to do so Ferrari definitely wanted to freeze Mercedes out and have LEC tow VET hoping for the 1-2 pole.

        1. but there was also some blocking going on which resulted in screwing a few others

          @jimfromus – you’ve called out a good point, that some of us have ignored.

          This problem is compounded by the fact that – as far as I know – impeding a car is investigated only when the affected car is on a hot lap, not on an out lap. That might be something that could have a rule fix considered – impeding another car in quali will be notified to the stewards, irrespective of whether the impeded car was on a hot lap or not.

          1. @phylyp There already is a fix in the rules – impeding the car, strictly speaking, is banned at all times, regardless of the temperature of anyone’s lap. It’s only custom that causes investigations to be restricted to times demonstrable loss occurred.

            1. @alianora-la-canta – thank you for clarifying that, good to know it is covered. 👍 So we just need enforcement.

              the temperature of anyone’s lap


      2. The timing shown on the screen certainly seemed to show Leclerc going through, but the team, and all the subsequent information, points to him not actually making it.

      3. @me Yes, they indeed did. They were the only ones not to get flagged despite people pushing for the myth only Sainz managed to cross the timing line before the time ran out, LOL.

    3. Sure. “Closing” pitlane exit 3 minutes before the session end is just IMPOSSIBLE!!!

      1. This just moves the problem 3 minutes earlier

        1. Wrong. In 3 minutes they will surely reach start finish line in order to start the flying lap, even if they try to go super slow

          1. @dallein Unfortunately drivers are quite capable of doing laps slower than 3 minutes, if there’s incentive to do so.

            Besides, there’s already a time limit, and it’s already contributed to 3 drivers getting reprimands last qualifying session.

          1. @dallein @jerejj ok understood your point of view, I have a different one. The farce in my opinion comes from everyone going out at the exact same moment, not from them missing the flag. I don’t really care if they’re too dumb to set a lap. But I understand, for the spectators (especially those at the circuit) would be much better.

            1. I though this was funny….
              All the engeneers and all the technological equipment fired up, and most of them made horrible revisjons that afternoon…..

    4. I don’t think it needs fixing either but there is still a simple rule in case they want to.

      There is already a max time limit for the outlap, they just need to use similar system to VSC with max time per section of track and there it is, fixed with existing tools. VSC imposes a min time that everyone should match or exceed, it shouldn’t be that difficult to set up the opposite with max time that should be matched or bettered. You avoid any pile up anywhere on track, downside is that it might limit warm up techniques.

    5. How about a 5-10 place grid penalty for failing to set a second time. That would probably wake them up.

      1. David, good idea except they will find an excuse for not going fast enough. Engine trouble or phone call from their manager etc…

        1. @dutchtreat Another grid place for each lousy excuse :O)
          Seriously, I don’t know why they don’t dish out more grid penalties for the top 10, it would help mix the grid up. I actually think the grid drop is a fitting penalty. I don’t agree that it’s their problem if they fail to set a second time. Qualifying builds up to a climax – the drivers messing around and stopping that from happening damages the event. If they don’t want to compete properly in Q3, demote them.

      2. @david-br Some of them effectively got that by not doing a hot lap when the opportunity presented itself. Drivers don’t always think far enough ahead to consider regulatory consequences of their conduct (even though they should).

    6. Drivers not crossing the start/finish line in time to start a timed lap doesn’t need fixing, but I think they should implement a minimum speed to ensure that the speed difference between cars is not so extreme as to be dangerous. And I think it should be something fairly high like 80% of the fastest posted lap.

      1. @velocityboy There already is a rule like that in place and has been for a while.

        1. @jerejj yes but not with as high a speed, so the drivers can still putter around like an old person in the left lane during rush hour.

          1. @velocityboy The one I’m referring to is the maximum time within which drivers have to complete out and in-laps, a reconnaissance laps onto the grid before each race. For the remainder of the Italian GP post-FP2, the given time was 1:45.000.
            You can find that info from
            See FIA communications portion – Race Director’s Note Doc15 – SC1/SC2 Time

            That’s a standard feature for every GP-weekend that gets posted after FP2.

            1. So they didn’t drive too slow, just got out too late.

            2. @esploratore Both of those. Too slow for the remaining time.

    7. ”F1 tried to pre-empt the situation which unfolded at Monza by informing drivers the minimum Safety Car lap time would be used to judge if they had driven too slowly on their out-laps.”
      – Again, something that has been in place for a while already, not just for the last GP-weekend, and BTW, it’s maximum, not minimum in this case. On the point itself: Again, just mandate that drivers have to leave the garage with at least three full minutes left to start a flying lap to avoid the farce to the extent experienced in Monza Q3.

    8. The same thing happened in NASCAR this year. They just scrapped knockout qualifying and went back to single car qualifying. It worked!

      1. @Steve K One reason F1 hasn’t gone back to single-lap qualifying was it experienced a couple of occasions where a driver on a slow-down lap managed to baulk someone on a hot lap, despite safeguards against it.

    9. It is a safety issue when some cars are being driven very slowly on a live race track which can then lead to crashes, the last two rounds they have been very lucky to not have collisions. It seems a lot of people think this is just a recent thing but actually this has been happening for some time, and the reason is obvious, tyres. It needs addressing soon otherwise there may come a time when there will be some people in a lot of trouble, and I don’t necessarily mean the drivers.

    10. Very simple!
      The last of the first run of Q3 goes first (who was it, Sainz/Hulkenberg/Norris?), the 9th goes second and so on, until the driver who was the fastest leaves the boxes. Easy!

    11. Don’t know about the farce. I enjoyed the Q3 show.

      1. I enjoyed it too. And I’m glad to see I’m not alone, @peartree, in thinking nothing needs done.

        I won’t elaborate again on why, except to say it was exactly what should have happened given the out comes of the banker laps.

        A max lap time wouldn’t have helped. Merc and Renault could have run at the end because they didn’t need laps, they just needed to be on track threaten to draft, discouraging Ferrari and Red Bull, and causing a little confusion. They could have done that with max lap time limits. Maybe even more effectively since there would be additional limits.

        We could also see drivers told to abort laps to avoid giving a tow.

        If we are desperate for a fix I suggest leaving 2 more cars in Q3 at tracks like Monza. That reduces the chance that nobody gains by going first. They could also try reducing the penalty of making a third run by giving an extra set of tires and allow adjusting fuel loads.

        But I think it was great entertainment.

    12. Not everything needs a fix. Let them sort themselves

    Comments are closed.