Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes, Monza, 2020

Ban on ‘quali mode’ reduced overtaking at Monza – Hamilton

2020 Italian Grand Prix

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Lewis Hamilton said the decision to ban teams from using ‘quali modes’ on their engines made it harder to overtake in the Italian Grand Prix.

The Mercedes driver had to fight his way through the field after being hit with a 10-second stop-go penalty during the race. Hamilton said it was harder to make progress because he wasn’t able to ‘turn his engine up’ in the same way as was allowed before.

“We’re just in one mode, and it’s a fast mode that we would use to race on a much shorter part of the race, so the engine felt consistent,” Hamilton explained.

“The only thing is that it’s worse for racing in the sense of in the past you could move between modes and you had to manage the small amount of strong race engine mode because you only have a certain quota. It was more fun to have to manage that and manage the power and utilise it for overtaking.”

“I would imagine that’s probably why you see less overtaking then and perhaps in the past,” he added.

Despite making his way past nine cars as he recovered to seventh place, Hamilton believes the rules change has been “worse for racing”.

“That’s why I wasn’t overtaking a huge amount or had a fast pace,” he said. “When I came out [of the pits] I saw that I had a massive gap and it wasn’t really closing anywhere near as fast as I’d like. I was already on lap 20-odd by the time I came out and was sure I was going to catch them at some stage.

“But then I caught up and I couldn’t get by, so it didn’t feel great that’s for sure. And I had to use up a lot of more tyres to even catch the back of the train. I did the best I could.”

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However Daniel Ricciardo, who spent the second half of his race stuck behind Hamilton’s team mate Valtteri Bottas, did not agree the ban had a significant effect on the racing. He pointed out drivers could still vary the amount of battery energy they could use to overtake.

“We still can drain the battery on the straight if we want a bit more power,” said Ricciardo. “So that doesn’t change and really that’s normally your biggest overtaking tool to use so that’s still there. So I don’t really feel much change for the dynamic of the race.”

Bottas, who finished fifth, said he doubted that having Mercedes ‘quali mode’ would have made it easier for him to gain places.

“Knowing the difference there would have been, I still doubt it,” he said. “I think the main issue was lacking speed in the corners and just not being able to follow in Lesmos and then Ascari and Parabolica.”

“I think it could be slightly part of the new regulations,” he added, “that everyone is just running a constant mode in terms of trying to save an attack, et cetera. Maybe there’s less overtaking because of that.

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“But in Monza the DRS effect is quite a bit smaller because the wings [have] less drag. For me the core issue was trying to get close to the cars enough to try and overtake and get a massive tow. [It was] pretty impossible to overtake any car that I was battling today.”

At one point in the race Bottas complained “I can’t race with these settings”. Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff said this was because his car’s performance was compromised by the cooling package the team had chosen.

“Valtteri was frustrated because we were too marginal on cooling,” Wolff explained. “So it wasn’t a criticism of the power unit. It was more that we should have opened the car more and that would have given him the possibility of not needing to lift-and-coast and create a gap to the guy in front. That was the frustrating situation [when] he said ‘I can’t race’.”

However Wolff does believe the ‘quali mode’ ban has made it harder for drivers to overtake.

“We always said that [if] you create one power mode for the whole race it means that you haven’t got the extra spice to overtake, you haven’t got the extra modes that you may decide, or not, to deploy in the race to overtake. And that is valid for all the small teams as for the big teams, so I think that the race today is a consequence of that decision.”

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81 comments on “Ban on ‘quali mode’ reduced overtaking at Monza – Hamilton”

  1. Oh please.. We can see right through all the remarks coming from Mercedes. At least roll up the next championship with some dignity and fairness to the sport and its fans

    1. Yah, the sport doesn’t gain from having such an invisible feature.

      The lack of passing COULD mean that everyone qualified at roughly their race pace. Which would be weird for Monza, but par for a weird weekend.

      I think it will take a couple races before we understand what quali-mode ban has accomplished. The angry uproar over softer tires leading up to Silverstone #2 quickly reversed into praise.

    2. This is too funny– Toto has found the ultimate way to screw with fans: he tells the truth! The fans can’t handle it, and their brains explode. That’s comedy.

      He said banning quali/race modes wouldn’t improve racing, and that it wouldn’t slow Mercedes down– and whattya know– it didn’t, and it didn’t.

      It might have slowed Red Bull down, though.

  2. Hammy had a rocket while others had sailing ships, and he had half a race to storm through from the back, but didn’t overtake enough of them.
    Probably Senna would, and so many others.

    1. Yes Senna would’ve beaten them all and saved the children. I’m surprised you can type whilst holding a candle for him

      1. and cure cancer and solve world hunger while lapping the whole field at least twice.

    2. Nah, I’m sure hamilton did the best that was possible in the circumstances, he even overtook someone just before race ended, so he was 7 sec behind ricciardo, meaning you’d have had to be significantly stronger than him to gain another place.

  3. “The only thing is that it’s worse for racing in the sense of in the past you could move between modes and you had to manage the small amount of strong race engine mode because you only have a certain quota. It was more fun to have to manage that and manage the power and utilise it for overtaking.”

    I think this shows exactly where F1 still thinks too much in short term solutions and doesn’t look at the bigger picture. They introduced degrading tyres to increase differences in cars during the race to enhance overtaking. And now they took away something (switching between different modes to optimise race pace for different parts of the race) that reduces differences between cars.

    So if they really want a reverse grid race, they should allow those modes again, even enhance them to make sure teams can apply speed differences to actually be able to overtake. Monza used to be a track where overtaking was not too hard to do, this year it seemed very hard to do, apart from overtaking backmarkers (even if they were running at the front as the Alfas were for a while).

    If they were thinking about the bigger picture, (instead of reactive and acting on hunches from teams protesting each other) they would have considered the HOW of making overtaking easier, and having more ability to exploit extreme engine settings is something that clearly does play a factor, as do speed differences of tyres and fuel saving.

    1. Lols, best laugh I’ve had all week

    2. I only watched the highlights but it seemed like there was a ton of overtaking, especially after the restart. I also didn’t mind the norris queue one bit, because everyone was close behind and waiting for an error. The skinny wings meant you could actually see the cars sliding, which implies the drivers were not particularly saving tyres AND they were somewhat close to the limit.

      I’d far rather see a train of drivers on the ragged edge but not actually passing each other, than to see a bunch of DRS (or mode 7) passes in the opening laps and then everyone nursing it home for the next hour, several seconds apart.

      1. @frood19 in that case you must have been watching a different race, or there’s a typo in the first sentence (can’t tell from the context of the second paragraph). After the restart, the only changes were Lewis coming through the field after his penalty and Kimi being overtaken by faster cars. No one else gained or lost a position that didn’t involve Lewis or Kimi.

  4. Aka “my race craft was lacking and my poor rocketship didn’t have its usual one and a half second advantage, sadly the championship is slipping away from us…”


    1. He was commenting on the consequences, nothing more nothing less

    2. It’s ‘IE’, not ‘As Known As’.

      1. Also known as

      2. Aka means the same as IE to me as well as to most other people.

        1. It only means the same to people who don’t realise they’re different.

          IE. Mongs.

          1. Wow, lovely manners!

      3. Not sure ie is actually correct there. Sounds like he was actually saying what Hamilton many as so also known as would reflect his rewrite as well as ie. AKA id est, meaning in other words so but would be applicable depending on preference of the author

  5. So that doesn’t change and really that’s normally your biggest overtaking tool to use so that’s still there

    Ricciardo pretending only the battery helps in overtaking, but then what did Lando Norris use when he was overtaking cars by using “Scenario 7”?

    1. @f1osaurus Ricciardo said the battery is “normally your biggest overtaking tool“. He didn’t say it was the only one. Don’t try to misrepresent what was said.

      1. @keithedin So what? Clearly Norris running in Scenario 7 does a whole lot for overtaking and massively changed the dynamics racing

        Don’t try to misrepresent what was said.

        1. You think McLaren are already briefing Ricciardo on their car’s settings?

  6. The first part of the race was incredibly static indeed. Luckily the marshalls didn’t know how to recover a car and then Leclerc decided to destroy both his car and the wall, so we still got an exciting race.

    1. so we still got an exciting race

      I don’t necesarily agree with all those who say we got an ‘exciting race’. We did get an exciting outcome, but the racing was the same as on other weekends.
      The problem is that TV and fans only focus on the front positions, whereas the exact same racing normally happens a bit further down the field.

      1. If you don’t think that was exciting, you never will enjoy a race. That was a worldy. Most races up until the 2000s had an element of unpredictability via crashes and retirements. This was no different and what a pleasure it was. Seriously I cant even begin to understand how you could say that but then, internet people, sheesh.

        1. Seriously I cant even begin to understand how you could say that but then, internet people, sheesh.

          Read the second part of my comment and you might understand.

          But then, Internet people with limited word length attention span. ‘sheesh’.

          1. I can read. I did start nodding off on your post but the second part which I don’t need to read again thanks Chomsky sheds no more light on it. Have a rethink. Reread my post. Might help you. You pretty much rewrote it anyway. Which speak volumes

        2. The races are always exciting if you follow more than one team. But if you’re just fixated on Hamilton losing then it can get very boring. There are always multiple battles going on all the time.

      2. +1! All this race did was force people to see what’s been there all along *if you look for it*. Taking the top 3 teams [of the hybrid era] out of the picture left the midpack as the only thing to watch. This kind of racing is just as entertaining (to me) even when Mercedes, Red Bull, or Ferrari are a lap up. IMO it’s fine as a one time freak show, but artificially messing with the fastest teams, cars, and/or drivers, such as a reverse grid or rule changes mid season, just to force an unusual outcome defeats the point of competition.

        1. Yes, I liked 2018, when there was serious competition between the top 3 teams, the problem is that nowadays it’s mercedes >> red bull >>>> ferrari, with other teams inbetween, and no real replacement for red bull or ferrari.

  7. The biggest impact of eliminating quali mode is that we saw the difference between Bottas and Hamilton (in the same car). Hamilton was able to overtake (incl. a RP, Renault, and (cripled) RBR) whereas Bottas was stuck in the middle of the field behind those same cars (after being overtaken by them at the start of the race).

    As a technical innovation I do like enigine modes, and would not have banned them. But it had a slight possitive impact on the racing as it showed more what the driver is capable of rather than just the engineers’/car’s capabilities.

    1. It didn’t really though.

      Bottas car overheated pretty quickly because he was buried in a pack of cars fairly close together. From that point on he really had no real chance of overtaking

      Hamilton’s passes came after a fair amount of clear air between back markers most of whom had crippled cars or shot tyres.

      The thing that stood out to me was the fact that the Alfa Romeos were able to hold up much faster cars at the front for quite a while so there’s some evidence that lack of qualy modes did have a negative impact.

      1. At least someone understands the dynamics behind Bottas’relative poor performance.

    2. I’m not a Ham fan, but acknowledge his brilliance, I think your comment is right in the Ham’ vs Bot’ context. Bot’ is there as an able wing-man to support Ham’ becoming the most successful driver ever along with scoring enough points to keep Merc in front. That’s his job and he keeps ensuring it stays that way.

  8. Agree with Lewis. It’s an extra option for drivers in defending an attacking, creates a variation in cars performance.
    Really don’t like this ban. Feels contrived and adds no benefit

    1. Ha! Yeh yeh that’s the only contrivance n F1

  9. petebaldwin (@)
    8th September 2020, 9:44

    I noticed less boring passes that were done by turn 1 and more exciting wheel to wheel battles…. Perhaps a bit less quantity but a much higher quality of racing.

    1. I absolutely agree.

    2. @petebaldwin In fact there were almost no passes at all. So yes no boring passes, but also no good ones. Apart from one at the start.

  10. I like the ban, and as Ricciardo said they still can manage the battery power delivery.
    Hamilton complains he needs to use his tires more in order to overtake. So what? Just pit for new tires then. We don’t need 1 pitstop boring races anymore.

  11. It’s really disappointing that Hamilton and Mercedes weren’t able to sail through the field and win the race at a canter. Can we start a petition to the FIA or something to bring back these engine-modes, this ‘non-mercedes winning a race’ thing is getting really tiresome already.

    1. That’s the problem with Hamilton and Mercedes. Never happy, always pushing; and if they got nobody who can challenge them they challenge themselves constantly. Same as at the last race. Hamilton saying he was challenging himself every lap; do better on the tyres than he did on the last lap, improve the line into the corner, get an earlier exit, never happy, always looking to improve. Not what we want to see in F1. Mark my words, they are never going to be successful going about it that way.

  12. Okay. I must say I really respect Hamilton for his racecraft and I really think he’s an exceptional talent, despite what many on this forum think. But his sense of entitlement is almost bordering narcisism. “I wasn’t able to close the gap as quick as I’d like to.” Hell, he was losing 23 seconds on the last car after the stop/go and he was more thank two or three seconds quicker than anybody else on the racetrack. What more is he expecting? This race gave us a renewed notion of what “pushing” really means and how should driver make the difference – and Hamilton really was making difference in that Mercedes. These comments totally diminish the effect of his drive.

    1. You never miss a trick to have a go at him do you.

      1. I know right. And then the false praise he starts with to pretend he’s almost a “fan”.

        1. Believe what you want, I was a fan of his while he was driving for McLaren and I can appreciate his performance when he really does something exceptional. Now he’s saying he didn’t have fast pace after being literally several seconds quicker than all his opponents, whom he actually had to overtake and not just breeze past. And he says it’s bad for racing. His individual racing? Well, than he definitely got lazy after all those years spent cruising at the front. Don’t get me wrong, but he sounds really disrespectful towards the other drivers, complaining that he actually had to fight for those positions and couldn’t just press some buttons.

    2. is almost bordering narcisism

      Understatement of the eon

      1. Yes Peronis a narcissist yes it is an understatement.

    3. @pironitheprovocateur – i bet you have never engaged in any competitive sport at any meaningful level, nor ever won anything. Prove me wrong.

    4. “I wasn’t able to close the gap as quick as I’d like to.”

      You see that as narcissism, but I see it as a winning attitude. Being happy with 7th wouldn’t get Hamilton to where he is today. Look at Bottas in the same car for example. I hear arguments that Lewis had it easy with the slower cars, but I argue that Lewis makes it look easy. Also, I’d bet 100 bucks that if the roles were reversed, Hamilton would not be stuck for the better half of the race behind a McLaren and Bottas would still be fighting with Albon for the penultimate place.

      1. Now he knows how all the other drivers feel because for years they have not been able to close the gap fast enough or cruise away at front and win with ease. But that doesn’t apply to the entitled, does it?
        Yep, that is the advantage of driving a technically superior vehicle, i.e. not actually having to fight for the win.

    5. @pironitheprovocateur Totally agree. He says the racing is worse because he “wasn’t overtaking a huge amount”. It doesn’t even make sense, especially as he was going through the field no problem. The racing is only good when he’s able to go through the whole field like they are not there? If anything it’s obviously the opposite of worse racing, but here it can only mean he means the racing is not good good when his domination is not absolute.

      But you anyway know you’ve got a perfectly valid point when the usual Hamilton fanatics have to resort to personal attacks to silence you.

  13. I support less “alone and unaided” spirit of the quali mode ban. Hearing pitwall instruction on how to set modes during a race was annoying. But Ricciardo comment about battery energy deployment make me question about effectiveness of this rule when PU configuration change.

    It’s true that overtake button still exist on quali mode ban, as it still can deployed battery energy as long as it has no effect on the way on how internal combustion engine runs. But when F1 decide to bring more powerful battery on the new regulation, the pitwall instructions will return. And when battery decide which teams would lead championship, it might as well change it to Formula-E.

    Unless F1 decide to go full V10. Which is great but more unlikely.

    1. The next step should also be a change to the energy system. Because it doesn’t match with the “unaided” part that car needs to learn the track. That the car decides when to deploy what amount of energy based on what the car’s location is on the track, sounds like aiding a driver.

    2. @ruliemaulana Lol, did you hear the radio messages? They still do all that. All the instructions on dials and numbers are still given. That’s all something else.

      What they took away is the driver input to choose when to attack, defend or save.

      1. @f1osaurus Which is why I mention about battery energy deployment. And maybe I should say something about turbocharge setting too. It’s part of driving, and all of that should be “alone and unaided”.

        At least no more driver asking for ‘more power’ now. It’s always sound stupid. So this is a good start.

        1. @ruliemaulana Ah you mean, you want none of that at all.

          I think that would be unfair to the drivers though. The FIA made these systems so ridiculously complex. You can’t expect the drivers to do all of that system maintenance on their own.

          1. I don’t care if drivers need to learn their own car in the hard way. The worse things could happen is getting grid penalties for power unit parts. Some might even enjoy it if they better than their teammates.

        2. It was proposed some time ago by Hamilton that the drivers should have more to do, even to the extent of having to remove a hand from the wheel to change a setting or gear shift. Also suggested no exchange of information between each side of the garage until P3. His basic argument being the more a driver is responsible for the more chance of him making a driver error.
          It went down like a lead balloon on here as most said it would favour Hamilton. So it seems most want the drivers to be told how to drive by their teams.

      2. @f1osaurus took away when to attack, defend or save? Seriously?

        How on earth did Prost, Senna, Stewart, Lauda and all the other drivers—great or otherwise—do it?

        With their right boot.

        1. @justrhysism Prost, Senna Stewart and Lauda did not have the problem that their car would become almost uncontrollable when it gets close to the car in front. Actually in those days they had slipstreaming which made it easier to overtake the car in front. Especially on a track like Monza.

          1. Hahahaha, the cars of Prost, Senna and Stewart, in comparison to modern cars, were uncontrollable all the time.

    3. Isn’t F1 also playing with the idea of Hydrogen power? Thought I saw something somewhere about this.

  14. I suppose we’ll get a better picture of how the ban has changed the way the cars perform at Mugello but going on the various statements from drivers and team bosses and the performances at Monza. It looks like the performance gap has widened between the Mercs and the rest of the the field bar the Renaults who have now possibly the second best PU.

  15. Real shocker here is how Bottas was stuck in P5, while Hamilton got P7 with full 10s stop/go penalty.

  16. I love the ban on these modes. The fact that Hamilton is complaining about it shows that it has had the effect everyone was hoping for and that things have become a little harder for Mercedes. They have had it way too easy for way too long.

    1. @aliced Really? You think the effect everybody was hoping for was “Please let’s have less overtaking”?

      Also, normally it’s not so much the Mercedes that needs to do the overtaking. So …

    2. Really? I thought the way he drove off into a comfortable lead during the first half of the race, his offer to put a 5s gap to the pack within two laps, or him coming out half a minute behind the last man yet finishing the race 10s behind his team mate and only 17s behind the winner doesn’t really show the ban works. And him complaining just seems to show he’s no different to any other racer.

      1. Yes really because in the pack he had the best engine AND an overtake map. Pretty easy to understand. Plus the Mercedes is set up to qualify p1and run from the front, it’s poor in traffic even relative to other cars.

  17. Since the Mercedes seems to struggle enormously behind other cars, might I suggest that, every race, a driver is under-fuelled and scampers ahead to cause the same overheating mayhem?

    This sport has been slaughtered by Mercedes and it’s only become worse since Rosberg left. Hamilton’s entitlement was only highlighted with his comments above (not to mention arriving late for his own knee protest).

    1. @joshgeake Do you need a tissue to wipe your tears?

    2. Given the disparity in spending between smaller and larger teams, the ones who have dropped the ball in the hybrid era are Ferrari and Red Bull, and to a lesser extent Renault and McLaren. Given the relative stability of regulations over the past 6 years, and the money they all have available, there’s really no excuse for their inability to be closer to Mercedes.

      When you compare relative performance of teams towards the end of the last era, even though Vettel dominated in championship wins, the top teams had cars that were closer together in terms of performance.

      Mercedes have done an incredible job, but the rest of them have done a poor job. There should have been much more convergence in the last 2-3 years at least.

    3. Oh please. No one complained when Williams were dominating. No one complained when McLaren were dominating. No one would have dared complain when Ferrari were dominating, and Schumacher was an out and out cheat, quite happy to crash other drivers off the track. No one complained.

      But then none of them had Hamilton driving for them at the time.

      1. Yeah, there was absolutely no complaing when Schumacher dominated… Complete nonsense. All the other years there was no internet for the big public.

    4. Only late because his scooter wouldn’t start.

  18. #MakeEngineModeChangesEntirelyFreeAgain

  19. There are enough stupid people watching F1; as well as a number of youngsters who don’t realise they are stupid, who have too much access to social media and want to change everything by taking a knee jerk reaction to every issue. Sport just has to make sure they are not allowed to have that much influence as they will screw up the sport. Unfortunately we follow a sport that does allow them to influence the way the sport is run because to them $$$$ is more important than the sport itself.
    (To paraphrase JoeS)

  20. “We always said that [if] you create one power mode for the whole race it means that you haven’t got the extra spice to overtake, you haven’t got the extra modes that you may decide, or not, to deploy in the race to overtake. And that is valid for all the small teams as for the big teams, so I think that the race today is a consequence of that decision.”

    People forget that in the “great” days of Williams Renault, or McLaren Honda, Senna, Prost, Mansell, and Hill that they had a Turbo Boost dial. James Hunt would come on and say, looks like Mansell has the Turbo Boost up, he’s going for he pass. They were trading off not just engine reliability but also fuel consumption against performance. There was no outrage. No complaints of artificial racing. etc… The level of detail in reporting has increased, and with it the outrage in the differences. Hill won Adelaide 95 by TWO LAPS from second place.


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