F1 drivers see no need to copy IndyCar rule which would have cost Leclerc pole

2021 Monaco Grand Prix

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Charles Leclerc doesn’t deserve to lose his pole position over his crash at the end of qualifying, his two closest rivals in the session believe.

The Ferrari driver was already quickest when he hit the barrier in the dying sessions of today’s qualifying session. As the red flags were shown, his rivals were unable to complete their laps, and there was not enough time to restart the session.

Leclerc’s crash therefore effectively secured him pole position. Others drivers have previously been accused of disrupting qualifying sessions in Monaco intentionally for this reason.

In 2006 Michael Schumacher was disqualified from qualifying for deliberately stopping his car at Rascasse. Eight years later Nico Rosberg aroused suspicion when he triggered yellow flags by stopping his car at Mirabeau, but was not punished.

In order to discourage drivers from disrupting qualifying sessions to their advantage, IndyCar has a rule which stipulates that any driver who causes a red flag has their two quickest lap times deleted.

However Max Verstappen, who Leclerc beat to pole position, says drivers should not be punished for what could be innocent mistakes. “I think there is a difference when a guy makes a mistake and hits the wall or doing it intentionally,” he said.

“I think if Charles would have just parked with a broken front wing, it’s a different story. But of course, he just clipped the wall initially ended up where I have ended up twice. So it’s just unfortunate.

“Of course I’m disappointed not to have a shot at pole, but that’s life. Sometimes you can’t do it, it’s fine.

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“I don’t think his lap should be deleted in the future if possibly they want to make rule changes. I don’t think that would be fair because we are all trying so hard and it’s not so easy around, especially on the limit. And it’s easy to make a mistake.”

Like Verstappen, Valtteri Bottas was convinced he could have improved his lap time if he’d been able to complete his final lap. But he also doesn’t want to see the rules changed to penalise drivers who crash in qualifying.

“I think the regulation is fine,” he said. “It’s what it is. Sometimes in the sport things don’t play into your hands and sometimes you get lucky, sometimes unlucky and that’s what happens.”

Leclerc made it clear he had not crashed deliberately. “Surely, if I was doing it on purpose, I would have made sure to hit the wall a bit less hard,” he said.

“But that wasn’t on purpose, obviously. I was pushing the limit and for now, I’m just worried about the rear of the car. I hope it’s okay, it doesn’t look okay. But let’s wait and see.

“As Max said on a city track like this where we are pushing the limit, it happens to do mistake. It’s a different story when it’s done on purpose. But I think it’s pretty obvious for today.”

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2021 Monaco Grand Prix

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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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27 comments on “F1 drivers see no need to copy IndyCar rule which would have cost Leclerc pole”

  1. Definitely it isn’t a good idea punishing a driver for his effort. Best it could be done about it was if any driver at an interrupted flying lap got another shot. IMO, it is fine the way it is, Verstappen was spot on.

    1. The fastest driver in the first run, should be the last driver out in the second run, end of story.

  2. Crashes happen when you push to the limit. Penalty should be for a “fake mistake” while leading in the last seconds of the Qualifying like M. Schumacher in 2006 and N. Rosberg in 2014.

    1. Yep, and the issue is “how can you be sure it is deliberate” ? In the case of Shum, it was pretty obvious. In the case of Rosberg, not… Rosberg should have shunt the car and no issue. Because he aborded last moment, he guilty. Or not.
      Unless he did it deliberately. Or not… Really depend if you were rooting for Ham, in fact.

      See ?

  3. I couldn’t agree more with the trio. A rule like the one in IndyCar would only refrain drivers from pushing to the max in fear of making an error that causes a red or yellow flag situation.

    1. Precisely, Jere. Everybody loves to see F1 drivers driving as fast as they can. For me, Monaco GP Qualifying is among the best moments of each F1 season!

  4. F1 should stay clear of anything like that.

    Apart from several bad apples, drivers in F1 usually don’t do such deliberate things.

    And bad ones can be dealt with using existing means.

  5. Agree no penalty in order. However, there’s something to be said to allowing other drivers to actually get in a final fast lap if the provisional poll sitter causes a red (or maybe yellow) flag in this way. An extra 5 minutes say. It would prevent the Schumacher/Rosberg type of incident and allow spectators to actually see a race for poll. Qualifying is expressly designed to build up to this final run climax, we know that. So losing it is heavily anticlimatic and does seem to deprive the poll sitter’s rivals of their chance. I’d be in favour of some football style ‘extra time’.

    1. NB: A counter-argument is that only Monaco really presents this scenario with any frequency due to its uniqueness. But why not make this rule unique to Monaco then? I don’t see the problem in that.

      1. @david-br – I’d say it applies for other venues as well. There was one at Mexico, not sure which year, when Bottas crashed and spoiled Vettel and Verstapen’s laps.

        1. @niefer True but I still think Monaco is an exception, the threat of touching the barriers everywhere round the track, drivers pushing hard, a crammed short circuit.

      2. Tires?

        1. Damn. Always a snag. An extra set available too for this eventuality then…
          But what if someone grabs poll in extra time but then has time to do another lap and crashes too..? I admit the idea does have its flaws.

      3. Well said, David BR! Singapore and other new street circuits are not too far ahead of Monaco in terms of temptation for a dirty trick in the last seconds of the Qualifying. It would be only fair for, let’s say, 3 min. “extra time” if a dirty trick happens.

    2. Mark Sinclair
      23rd May 2021, 9:17

      The drivers/teams do not have to wait till the final 3 minutes or so. Q1 is 10 minutes. They always go out for the first and last 3 minutes. At every Grand Prix, not just Monaco. What is to stop them going out in the middle 3-4 minutes with nobody on the track and have it all to themselves. I get that in most cases the track conditions usually improves with time/usage.

  6. I fully endorse this. Further, I hope LEC doesn’t need a gearbox change. Watching him defend against VER into Turn 1 is a treat we shouldn’t be denied!

  7. F1 should stay clear of anything like that!

    Apart from some bad apples all drivers in F1 usually don’t do anything like that.

    And with bad ones F1 has means to deal with.

    1. You do not have to repeat yourself.
      We got the picture.

  8. Barry Bens (@barryfromdownunder)
    22nd May 2021, 17:52

    Fair enough I guess, but when such a thing happens to a Ferrari, you just can’t shake the feeling is was done on purpose. They’ve done it once and they’re not exactly known for playing by the rules.

    1. @barryfromdownunder Tinfoil hat much?

  9. A true sportman Max is although I am a Hamilton fan. I am beginning to like Max too but of course minus Jos minus Horner minus Marko

  10. I think that drivers having to gamble between going all out trying to set a faster time, or hoping that others won’t be able to improve their time, actually adds to the sport.

    A lot of people seem to want a completely clinical sport where the fastest car always end up in the ‘correct’ spot during qualifying and during racing. These people prefer if only penalty for a mistake is that you don’t end up ahead, compared to not taking the risk at all. However, in my view, it way more interesting when taking risks can make drivers worse off. Then risk taking involves not just maximum driving ability, but also how reliably a driver can get close to the limit and how well the driver knows himself. So this brings in a lot more skills than just being a Maldonado, who would always just send it.

  11. Davethechicken
    22nd May 2021, 19:51

    Well said Max, hits the nail on the head, Valteri too.

  12. Nonsense, driving is about balancing risk and reward. The current rules benefit those who bank a good lap then block the track.

    Why does the guy who crashed get to start first?

    If you have to get towed back to the pits you shouldn’t start P1.

    If you impede your rivals you should go to the back of your Q session.

    I find it odd that people whine about blue flags or processional races then are just fine if driver’s impede everyone’s qualifying.

  13. Why can’t we just give others an extra run?

  14. Would be nice if for the last run in Monaco they send out the drivers in opposite order of the current standings though. or at least the top 3. To prevent the “pole sitter” to take more risks than he normally would in the knowledge that even if things do go wrong he will have pole anyway. It’s just asking for trouble and it happened too often already.

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