Charles Leclerc, Ferrari, Albert Park, 2019

Drivers suspect “free pit stop” will decide who gets fastest lap point

2019 Australian Grand Prix

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Formula 1 drivers suspect the new point for fastest lap will be won by whichever of the leading drivers can take a “free pit stop” at the end of the race.

The new rule will award one bonus point to the driver who sets the fastest lap of the race, providing that driver finishes in the top 10 positions.

Romain Grosjean said the new rule is “for top teams” and is unlikely to affect the rest.

“For the midfield I don’t see it changing a lot. If you have a look at the stat for the last three or four years, 96% of the fastest laps have been done by the top three teams.”

Grosjean pointed out that if a driver has an opportunity to pit at the end of the race without losing a position and put on a fresh set of tyres, that will give them the best chance of scoring the point for fastest lap.

“Normally the top three teams pull away and they’ve got a free pit stop anyway. If you’re last of that leading group then you’ve got a free pit stop [over] the midfield.”

Lewis Hamilton, GP2, Monza, 2006
The time a fastest lap bonus point won Hamilton a title
However Grosjean, who retired from last year’s Australian Grand Prix following a pit stop error, added: “When you take a pit stop there’s always a risk that the wheels are not tightened or something like that.”

Charles Leclerc believes any driver able to take a ‘free’ pit stop will do so in order to make a bid for the fastest lap point. “If you’ve got nothing to lose I believe we will try, yes,” he said.

However he suspects the difficulty of overtaking will mean no driver will sacrifice a position in order to make a pit stop and attempt to set the fastest lap.

“[It’s] difficult to say. We need to see how is the overtaking now with this new front wing. I don’t think anybody has a very clear idea of how it’s going to be until we actually race with this.

“If it’s the same as last year I struggle to think we would give up a position on track to set the fastest lap. It remains one point but looking at the change of points from one place to another I think it’s better to stay in front.”

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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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32 comments on “Drivers suspect “free pit stop” will decide who gets fastest lap point”

  1. Most last lap crashes in F1 history!

    1. Maybe it was the main goal of this atrocity – to cause as many crashes, which will lead to elimination of respective drivers and punctures and other issues to leaders.

      Ricciardo holding everyone in Monaco for XX laps?
      No longer a problem! One smashed Top 10 car – field of debris, punctures, cold tyres, clutch – and we have a new unexpected winner!

  2. Sportwise it may not be a good decision, but it might be to for the show.

    1. It is an awful decision and with that I agree, but no – it will not be good for the show.

      At least not for those, who are following F1 for the good amount of years.
      5 minutes of fake action in the closing laps – is not something exciting or needed.

      Especially when your favorite driver\team is fighting for the win… the last thing you wish to see is some crazy attempt of fastest lap ending in the wall and causing all kinds of trouble to your driver\team (punctures, restarts, race ending red flags and so on).

    2. Not sure why it is not ‘sportwise’; fastest lap is a genuine achievement.
      The only part which is not ‘fair’ is to limit the extra point to the top 10.

      If they want to limit it then they should’ve limited it to drivers who do not pit during the last 10 laps.

      1. In my view it is not an achievement deserving a point. It is more a statistical achievement, which doesn’t affect the result of the race. In that context awarding a point for qualifying first makes much more sense – as the starting position can heavily influence the outcome of the race (hello, Monaco!)

        If we just count anything fastest, then why stop at fastest lap? Let’s count (already mentioned) fastest qualification time, fastest pitstop, fastest speed trap, fastest overtake, fastest crash (but only if the driver managed to continue). Oh, let’s force drivers to run to their cars LeMans-style before the start of the race and award the bonus point to the fastest!

  3. Well, the press, the fans and now the drivers figured out how this will play out. I can’t imagine the rulemakers didn’t come to the same conclusion. It won’t harm the sport but it won’t add anything aswell. So why do we need it?

    1. @davisp I can only assume that they want to make the end of a boring race a bit more watchable. At least you might have a few cars further back trying to set fastest laps while the lead cars cruise to the finish.

      1. Jonathan Parkin
        16th March 2019, 18:17

        And if a car from 11th place downwards gets FL (but not the point) the media is going to growl severely

        1. Thats what I was unsure about Jonathan .. so if you have posted the fastest lap, but don’t finish in the top 10, is it true that there will be no fastest lap point awarded ??

          If that is so, you’re right in that the media will growl – and rightly so – as it could lead to the situation of a ‘B’ team pitting late to get fastest lap just in order to remove that possible extra point from one of the front running teams that they are not aligned with..

  4. Shock! Disbelief! Denial!

    Of course it will be that way! Why?
    Because geniuses, who came up with this “brilliant idea”, didn’t actually think past the idea itself… like how it will look in real life on the track. Well done, well done.

  5. I can’t believe anyone actually thinks any team is going to push for a fastest lap. Teams only get 3 engines does anybody think that any team is going to risk blowing an engine pushing for a fastest lap?? It isn’t going to happen. This is just another dumb idea by dumb owners.

  6. The more I think about it the less I like the idea.

    The biggest thing for me is that it doesn’t add anything of any value. Been fast over 1 lap in a race doesn’t mean anything, Never has & having cars pit late for fresh tyres & grab the fastest lap almost by default due to how big a performance advantage you get off fresh tyres will just make it mean even less.

    At best it changes nothing, At worst it devalues fastest lap, May result in teams playing games & potentially could see the title decided by bonus points rather than purely finishing positions which is never something i’ve been a fan of, Especially when the bonus point is for something as irrelevant as fastest lap which again could be won by default just because you pitted for fresh tyres with a few laps left.

  7. I’d rather have championship success ballast than a fastest lap point.

  8. I suspect Gasly is going to be the first driver to achieve an extra point from the fastest lap of a race this season. He’s definitely in the best position to accomplish that given the car he’s got underneath him combined with the number of fresh unused sets (4) of the softest compound he’s got left for the race.

    1. Magnus Rubensson (@)
      16th March 2019, 17:27

      Could even be the very reason Red Bull didn’t send him out again…

      Future F1 historians will know “the first driver to score a fastest lap point” under the new 2019 rules. It’s a statistic waiting to be filled.

    2. GAS is way off being in the best position to do that. He’s starting 17th on a track notorious for the lack of overtakes. VER couldn’t even overtake ALO last year while starting from 4th, the only instance in which a top-3 car without a penalty couldn’t get past a midfield car.
      After his 2nd RB driver-treatment, I suspect GAS would be happy finishing in the points alone.
      Let’s wait and see how that car goes in race trim.

  9. I’d like to hear from the rule makers exactly how they got the information that this is what fans wanted. How where those studies conducted and so on. Because almost everyone knows exactly how it’s going to work and how lame it’s going to be.

    1. If we believe them, then it was according to (multiple?) fan-surveys, though I don’t remember any other apart from a big Motorsport fan-survey from 2 years ago.

      I think it didn’t have a direct bonus-point question (if it was there, I know how I replied then…), but official “results” say the following:

      The areas identified by fans for review and potential change remain consistent and in some cases strengthened in 2017, namely…
      • Annual team budget caps to be agreed and policed
      • Allowing independent teams the ability to purchase and compete with ‘customer cars’
      • The award of championship points for fastest lap.
      • A return to in-race refuelling
      • A return to V8 engines
      • A return to tyre competition between manufacturers

      Looks like they chose the only option which they could implement, and did it… one week before the new season.

  10. The sky is falling , the sky is falling. Lets see how it works out ,THEN, completely freak out.

  11. The only exciting part of this unsporting idea, is when some will take the gamble to lose a position in the hope to gain it back at the end, but on some tracks it will anyway be a cakewalk.

    Overall, unless Ferrari has really revamped their strategy department – which I doubt – this will hurt them the most.

  12. F1 drivers state the bleeding obvious – read all about it :)

  13. But if nr 6 has a free pitstop, then number 5 possibly as well (after 6 pittted) so I am wondering if it will ‘trickle up’ and where will that effect stop.

    And what if there’s a late safetycar?

    Artificial? Maybe but I don’t care. I’m looking forward to see how this will pan out.

  14. My guess is teams will use this as a way of getting their Number 2 driver to be behind their Number 1 driver.

  15. “Crash point”!!

  16. They should open up the fastest lap point to everyone outside of the top 10. Too many races have been ruined by slow teams having to being lapped at the end. If all the slower cars were on fresh rubber at the end of the race then there would be less cars to get in the way of the top two cars if they are having a battle.

  17. This might end up being entertaining, but sport it isn’t.
    I guess that’s the direction F1 is going.

  18. Michael Ward
    17th March 2019, 0:23

    I’m a little unclear about something.
    The point for fastest lap can only be had if you finish in the top 10.
    but does that mean the driver in the top 10 with the fastest lap gets the point or only if they have the fastest lap of the race?
    If your driver is way out of position, ineligible to score the point but your competitor is on for it you could get your out of position driver to get the fastest lap and prevent the competitor from getting it?
    could you do it with your ‘B’ team?
    Potentially Toro Rosso could try to stop anyone other then Max or Gasly from getting the point?

  19. Forgive my ignorance, but what happens if someone outside the top 10 gets the fastest lap? No point awarded to anyone, or is it the fastest lap among the top 10 places?

    1. ..I dont think you are being ignorant Andy .. as far as I have read that question hasn’t been specifically answered on this or other internet F1 sites. I am too lazy to go looking for the regulation document so I am in the same ignorant place as you..

  20. Results from 1959 season race winner 8 points fastest lap 1 point.

    WDC Jack Brabham 2 wins, 1 pole, 1 fastest lap

    2nd Tony Brooks 2 wins, 2 poles, 1 fastest lap

    3rd Stirling Moss 2 wins, 4 poles, 4 fastest laps.

    Brabham was the only driver who had to divest himself of actual points won.

    So if history (ancient as it is ) is a guide, consistency throughout the season rather than hot laps will be the difference between being WDC someone else.

    1. …WDC or someone else.

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