Pitlane Impeding Concerns Addressed by FIA Ahead of Sao Paulo Event
In a bid to avoid dangerous traffic situations during qualifying, the International Automobile Federation (FIA) recently enforced maximum lap times for in laps and out laps. However, this seemingly well-intentioned move had an unintended consequence that caused drivers to struggle with finding clear gaps behind their rivals during preparation laps.
To engineer some much-needed clear air, drivers resorted to stopping or significantly slowing down at the pit exit. Unfortunately, this tactic often resulted in obstructing other cars and potentially breaching rules that prohibit impeding fellow competitors on track.
The issue came to a head at the Mexican Grand Prix when Max Verstappen, George Russell, and Fernando Alonso were investigated for halting at the pit exit during Q1 while attempting to build a gap ahead of their flying laps. Fortunately for them, they were eventually cleared of any wrongdoing.
This widespread problem prompted calls for a better solution and proactive measures from race director Niels Wittich before the upcoming Brazilian Grand Prix.
New Standards Implemented for Qualifying Sessions
In event notes sent to all teams ahead of the Sao Paulo event, Wittich outlined new expectations for driver behavior during both qualifying and the sprint shootout.
Drivers are now strictly prohibited from obstructing other competitors in the fast lane of the pits throughout qualifying sessions. Clear guidelines have been set regarding where drivers can create their gaps on track.
Pit Exit Guidelines
“As per article 33.4 of the Formula 1 Sporting Regulations, drivers are not allowed to go unnecessarily slow, which includes stopping a car in the fast lane of the pitlane,” clarified Wittich’s notes.
To address this issue head-on, he continued: “During Shootout and Qualifying, drivers may create a gap between the pit exit lights and SC2 line. Any driver who wishes to do so must drive as far to the left as possible to allow other drivers to pass them on the right side of the pit exit road.”
Misery Loves Company
The severity of this problem was highlighted by McLaren team boss Andrea Stella following incidents at previous races.
“Immediate action needs to be taken,” Stella stressed. “It’s detrimental to spectator experience and makes operations highly unpredictable. Sending out cars becomes an uncertain process when you cannot anticipate when they will hit track due to these impeding tactics.”
Echoing concerns about fairness among competitors, Stella urged policymakers and rulemakers within FIA “to address this situation appropriately”. He firmly believed that creating policies and regulations would help control such inappropriate actions on track.