Charles Leclerc, Ferrari, Monaco, 2021

F1 doesn’t need IndyCar’s red flag rule – Steiner

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In the round-up: Haas team principal Guenther Steiner doesn’t see a need for Formula 1 to import IndyCar’s rule penalising drivers who disrupt qualifying sessions.

In brief

Deliberate crashes are easy to spot – Steiner

Charles Leclerc’s crash during qualifying for the Monaco Grand Prix, which secured him pole position as it prevented any rivals beating his time, prompted debate over whether F1 should change its rules to ensure drivers cannot benefit from crashing. In IndyCar, drivers who disrupt qualifying sessions automatically have their quickest lap times deleted.

But Steiner says F1 doesn’t need a similar rule, insisting it’s easy to tell if a driver has intentionally crashed.

“I wouldn’t be a big fan of that one if it was to be implemented,” he said. “It obviously came up because Charles Leclerc hit the wall pretty hard on his last run in qualifying, but obviously it was not intentional. If it had been, the FIA would have seen that, it’s very easy to see that on the data if somebody’s done something intentionally. I don’t think there’s a need to start this discussion.

“What if instead of a red flag there was only a yellow flag and some people slow down and not some others – do we still cancel the lap of the guy who brought the yellow out?

“It’s worked for a long time as is, and it’s happened once, especially in Monaco where it’s very easy to crash by the way, I don’t think it’s a problem we need to fix at the moment. It’s part of the risk you take though if you go out late in qualifying. If people had gone out earlier maybe it wouldn’t have happened. I think if somebody does something on purpose there should be consequences, but this wasn’t the case in Monaco.”

Tsunoda finding car set-up a challenge

Yuki Tsunoda, AlphaTauri, Monaco, 2021
Tsunoda tackes another new track this weekend
Yuki Tsunoda says his difficult start to his first F1 season are rooted in how he is setting up his AlphaTauri.

“The technical aspect is still quite challenging,” he said, “in the current situation I have been struggling a bit with the car set-up. I believe that is normal as I have only done five races, but the important thing is that I am learning a lot about the car.”

Despite not having added to the points he scored at the season-opening race in Bahrain, Tsunoda believes gains are being made.

“I am pleased with the definite progress made by the team with the car since the beginning of the season,” he said. “It’s true the results have not come together yet and I am on a steep learning curve. I spend as much time as possible talking with my engineers to learn more and I hope that will help me continue to make progress through the season.”

Ricciardo busy in simulator

Daniel Ricciardo has been hard at work in McLaren’s simulator trying to get to the bottom of his first point-less weekend of the year in Monaco.

“It’s been important to take time to reset and refocus before heading to Baku,” he said. “The team and I have been working hard in the sim to understand, analyse and pinpoint the key areas we need to improve.

“We know the car has good potential, we just need to put all pieces together to unlock it. There’s still that element of adapting to a new car which I’m sure will come with more time and mileage behind the wheel. I’m going to keep working at it, build on the progress we made in Portugal and Spain and try to feel as one with the car.”

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Comment of the day

David (Hunter) agrees with David (Coulthard) about tedious tyre talk:

He’s not wrong. I don’t think the tyre discussion really means much to the average fan, especially when they get into the nitty gritty.

When the operating window is so unfathomable, even to the drivers themselves sometimes, to the extent you have maybe one sector of the lap where the tyres are turned on and the rest suffering, then what are we really doing?

I want to see the best drivers in the best cars. Tyre management in a traditional sense is part of that sure, but these tyres seem so inexplicable and when the entire show comes down to them more often than not it’s disappointing.

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On this day in F1

Three-times champion Piquet took his 23rd and final win today in 1991
  • 30 years ago today Nelson Piquet scored his final F1 victory in the Canadian Grand Prix after race leader Nigel Mansell’s car stopped on the final lap

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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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36 comments on “F1 doesn’t need IndyCar’s red flag rule – Steiner”

  1. I agree with DC and COTD. As long as we are stuck with Bernie’s “pit-stop excitement” gimmick of a minimum of 1 pitstop and 2 different tyre (single supplier) compounds per race we will be stuck with these “cheese” tyres, without the possibility running a full race length on 1 set of tyres there is no incentive for the tyre supplier to build a better tyre.

    1. There’s nothing wrong with having a pit stop. Or 2. Or 5 if that’s what happens.
      I know some people really get off on having F1 be as boring as possible in the name of purity – but only a small number of people actually want to watch that.
      The thing I remember most about the no-tyre-change ‘experiment’ was how utterly bland and one-dimensional the races became. And of course it culminated in producing Indy 2005… Thankfully they dropped it after one year.

      Pirelli are free to produce longer lasting tyres – and they do for other series. More durable tyres are far better advertising for Pirelli than what F1 currently ask for – tyres that are ‘worn out’ after half a lap do not leave a good image.
      However, races go even more stale and bland without tyre wear, and F1 doesn’t want that.

      1. S ,You can have your 1-2-3-4-5 stops if that is the fastest way to complete the race but why not have 0 stops if that is faster, it is the compulsory stop that is the problem.

        1. I shudder to think what would happen in Monaco or Singapore. This will entail track-specific rules but then that is what is being done for sprint qualifying, so not impossible to implement.

        2. The compulsory stop is not a problem, it is a feature – and one that many F1 events desperately need more of.
          Since F1 teams can not and are not required to produce an interesting race on their own, regulations had to be written to increase the chance of something interesting happening. I don’t see any problem with that – it’s no different to certain rules in any and every other sport.
          IMO, F1 would be even better if refuelling were brought back, to further increase the tactical and strategic options for the teams.

          Sorry, but purity can take a back seat to entertainment sometimes. F1 is a balance of tech, sport and entertainment, and often (or usually) that balance isn’t right.

      2. While I think five pitstops is too many, I think that the tyre wear is a good feature, as without it there would be very little strategy involved, and the different strategies are an enjoyable feature of Formula 1. I think the right amount is when two stops is slightly faster, but it involves losing track position. So there are two elements of strategy: firstly, the lap of the first pitstop and trying to undercut or overcut; and secondly, whether or not to give up track position and go for that second stop. When there are too many pitstops, I feel it can break up the race too much, and usually doesn’t add anything in terms of strategy, but 1-2 pitstops is the right amount.

        1. Yep, I exaggerated. 5 stops minimum would be too many most times – but personally I would find 2-3 the ideal range.
          1 stop is still a little too predictable and safe, and none would just be complete garbage.

          1. Well obviously I misunderstood what F1 was about, I thought it was about fast cars with fast drivers racing each other for 300km+-, silly me.

          2. @hohum – and they would still do that, regardless of the number of pit stops or the strategic elements involved.
            F1 is about different things to different people.

      3. S I don’t agree that… “More durable tyres are far better advertising for Pirelli than what F1 currently ask for – tyres that are ‘worn out’ after half a lap do not leave a good image.
        However, races go even more stale and bland without tyre wear, and F1 doesn’t want that.”

        I actually think there is much more to it than that. Yes, while today’s cars are so bad at racing closely as it is, even ‘needing’ DRS, that races would be stale and bland without tire wear, at the same time Pirelli would not get better advertising for making more durable tires. If Pirelli as the sole supplier made stable and predictable tires that were not the headache they are, we wouldn’t be talking about tires at all.

        I think there is an unwritten agreement between F1 and Pirelli to make the tires degrady, as that is the only way a sole supplier will get any mention at all. And Pirelli are a major sponsor that spends hundreds of millions to have their logo plastered everywhere. I think F1 would prefer for the racing that Pirelli make tires that degrade yes, but do so from tread ware in a more predictable way that would allow the drivers to push more, but even if Pirelli made such tires, even ones that needed two stops on average per race, they still would get less mention if they weren’t the deciding factor in races.

        So I think that in spite of how bad the tires are, the drivers know not to slam in the media such a major sponsor to F1, and by making tires the way they do, even after Pirelli saying they would change them in 2017 which they never really did, Pirelli gets their way for being a sole supplier. Add a second maker and even proper racing tires would get mentions all the time as to which team and which driver is on which tires, even when they aren’t a headache just to get and keep in their operating temps.

        So in that sense even bad tires in this case are better advertising for Pirelli than better tires that wouldn’t be nearly the constant topic of discussion. Pirelli can alway fall back on that it is up to the teams to make their (Pirelli’s) tires work, and that it is F1’s mandate to have degrady tires. I think yes that is F1’s mandate but they would prefer they degrade a different way, but it is hard to get Pirelli to do that when that would take away from the millions upon millions they spend to be a major F1 sponsor.

        1. @robbie I can agree with a lot of that – with one major exception…
          Yes, we all talk about Pirelli tyres and their name is everywhere in and around F1 – but it isn’t generally referred to in a positive light.
          Pirelli may be (through F1) buying loads of advertising space and receiving heaps of global airtime, but how much of that actually translates into sales of road tyres? That is what they are after.
          I can’t even begin to count the number of times I’ve read comments (here especially) equating directly to “Pirelli tyres are rubbish and wear out too quickly. I’ll never buy them for my car” or “All the drivers complain about the tyres. Anyone else could do a better job than Pirelli. I don’t like them.”

          Many of us are smart enough to know that Formula 1 tyres (and indeed pretty much all race tyres) have practically nothing in common with road tyres – but many are not seeing that disconnect. They see a brand and form an opinion of it from that limited exposure, which directly affects their purchasing choices. Pirelli looks bad in F1, so they must make rubbish road tyres too…

          Hey, maybe another manufacturer could do it ‘better’ – although without any evidence in the last 10 years, that’s nothing more than pure speculation and perhaps personal preference.
          I agree, there’s a lot more to this than just the nature of the tyres – the cars, the team resources and their approach have changed drastically since Pirelli won the tender. And we also know what that tender involved.

          Pirelli certainly make some pretty decent tyres for other racing series. Personally, I’d like to see what they could come up with for F1 when given a clean slate and complete freedom to do so before I make any judgements.
          However, unfortunately, that opportunity will never come.

          1. S For sure, but I think what is going on is that, for example, we on this site are just a relatively small sample of people, and some here defend them, and as long as it isn’t the F1 drivers/insiders nor the Sky commentators that are saying the tires are rubbish and they’d never buy them, to the average and vast F1 audience they are still seeing and hearing Pirelli, Pirelli, Pirelli without necessarily the hardcore criticism we level at them on sites such as this. I think those in F1 and the commentators get that it is not ‘proper etiquette’ shall we say, to slam them to the weeds for their tires, when they are only downgrading F1 by doing so, and harming a major sponsor…perhaps even inviting libel or slander accusations. Pirelli has alway fallen back on ‘we’re just doing what we’ve been mandated to do’ which I do think though is taking some license with what F1 would actually prefer.

            I personally haven’t a doubt in my mind that their domestic tires are great as are their tires for other racing series, and as well have no doubt they can make better F1 tires pretty much overnight. As can other makers.

  2. Why do Indycars stop multiple times a race for tires, especially with a 10+s pitstop? Is it fuel-related, or is there another incentive to drive the wheels off them all the time? (Yes they do some conservation but it’s usually more fuel-related).

    I guess I want refueling back. Hrm.

    1. @nanotech I agree.

      Some would call this heresy, but I’d like to see refueling allowed only at some events, probably low-deg tracks like Monza and Monaco. I like the strategies you get with refueling, and I also like the full-fuel load, tyre-dominated strategies we currently get (and the lightning-fast pit stops). So why not mix things up and give us both flavours of strategic battles during the year? I think it would be refreshing, and force the teams to master different types of rule sets.

      More generally, I would also think that allowing refueling would make fuel mileage a more prominent point of competition between engine manufacturers (as we see in IndyCar), which, given the way the industry is trending, I imagine would help the manufacturers make their F1 participation more marketable.

      1. +100
        You put it much better than I could have.
        Hopefully the 2025 formula will include refueling and fuel economy as a consideration. Annoying to have to wait that long. Maybe by then it will be battery pack swaps instead! :)

        1. Yes, and why not have the drivers hold a spoon with their mouth, on which is balanced an egg, points lost for every lap after the egg is dropped.

      2. Why not keep it open to teams to decide on the fuel tank size subject to a minimum and also adjust the minimum weight accordingly? I would assume some of the smaller teams might go for smaller tanks to gain qualifying advantage at the expense of race pace.

        I think a lot of the concern during refuelling was about the cost and safety pertaining to the equipment. Wouldn’t mind if the refuelling equipment is standardized. They could also come up with safety/cost rules like not allowing tyre changes at the same time as refuelling to avoid excessive personnel in the pit lane.

        It is a tough balance to strike in terms of time gained on low fuel runs compared to lengthy pitstops but pretty sure a sweet spot can be found that will add another strategic aspect to the sport.

    2. Refueling is a nightmare, what we need is a slightly less fussy tire. Maybe if we get that we can get rid of DRS and Big Aero, and… then I wake up.

    3. It’s both. Generally they’re trying to make their tires last until they need fuel, but sometimes it’s not possible and they pit just for tires. All teams are alloted the same amount of fuel (ethanol) depending on the circuit and race length. They need to get about 3 mpg running wide open at super speedways (Indy, Texas). If they get worse than 4 mpg they risk not having enough fuel to finnish the race. That’s why you may hear they are “trying to make fuel” during a race, or risk running out. Most pit stops average about 8 seconds for fuel and tires. 10+ second stops are pretty much a disaster.

    4. @nanotech In part, it’s because Indycar varies the race distance per event. And those have changed partly to give the fans more value for money but in some cases it was to prevent fuel milage racing. Take the race at Road America – it was 50 laps until the late 90s where 2 or 3 stops would work. From memory it was extended to 55 mainly to eliminate a 2 stop strategy from working so that the only viable option was to run flat out. Since the race came back in 2016 it’s changed a bit as the cars being more fuel-efficient means that both options are now in play again, especially with changes to cautions being thrown (as in not-automatically when a car goes off track, there’s usually a delay either to give the driver a chance to recover, or to allow everyone to make a caution-free pit stop so that there’s no disadvantage to anyone not pitting).

      Whether fuel or tyres is the limitation varies, even on ovals. I’ve seen plenty of races recently where the stop was for tyres rather than fuel, simply as the extra speed fresh tyres provided made it the right call. Take the last Indycar race at Fontana – you had drivers pitting with 3 laps to go as the tyre advantage was so great that you had cars gaining 10+ positions in the final few green flag laps.

      As for refuelling, that makes sense in Indycar as you’re never going to run the Indy 500 on a single tank without the cars being ridiculously long to accomodate a massive fuel tank, which would also massively increase the risk considering the number of crashes that usually happen. Cars could run 30-35 laps on Sunday between fuel stops, so the fuel tank would need to be at least 6x bigger to do the whole race without refuelling. It’s simply not practical. And because of only wanting one size tub to run on both ovals and road courses, refuelling isn’t going anywhere in Indycar.

      The point is that Indycar tends to adjust the distance of a race so that most races run to a similar time. F1 runs every race to 305km, so eliminating refuelling is an option that simply doesn’t exist on the US side of the pond.

      1. Great post with many good and informative points about Indy, and difference to F1 @skydiverian, thanks.

  3. I think Steiner’s comments are reasonable for F1.

    I think it’s a good rule in that it’s fair and simple, but deleting one timed lap for causing a disruptive local yellow would be a much stiffer penalty in F1 than it currently is in IndyCar. In F1, if you make a mess of your second run and disrupt the session, deleting your fastest lap means wiping your only meaningful lap of the session. In IndyCar, the tyres aren’t as finicky and there is no ERS to recharge, so drivers might set four or five flying laps during a session, improving all the way. So it’s actually possible for a driver to cause a local yellow, disrupt someone’s lap, and for both drivers to continue on and make it through to the next session.

    1. @markzastrow Don’t know how Steiner can say it’s so ‘obvious’ that things are intentional. On the last run people are maxing out everything so to for example come too hot in a corner and go off is almost to be expected. The only obvious thing to me is that you can’t, unless it’s obvious.

      1. Steiner is privy to the telemetry, reads it for breakfast. If a driver pushes too hard, it shows- it breaks cars. I appreciate that drivers might be tempted by dishonesty, but the stakes are too high in the modern F1 era, and the costs of cheating are higher than they ever were, because the tools to catch and expose cheaters are more powerful than they have ever been. If we take for granted that everyone is trying to cheat, why even watch? Is it still then enjoyable? I chose to believe that these pilots are riding as close to the edge of control as they can. I choose to give them the benefit of the doubt that when they go over that edge, it is because they are flawed, like everything beautiful is flawed.

        1. @ferrox-glideh But everyone checked Rosberg’s Monaco telemetry and still there was divided opinion. Besides, if the telemetry showed you braked too late for a corner and went off, so what? That is par for the course in motor racing.

          And not only to eliminate any cheating or speculation about it, but to keep qualifying clean where the last run counts. Already drivers get their laps deleted if they go off the track (track limits), this is practically the same but the lap deleted is the best in the session.

          1. @balue No, there wasn’t divided opinion! the stewards checked the telemetry and could find no evidence of wrong doing. That is that.

            It is all of the outside commentators and ‘fans’ that disagreed or had divided opinions and their OPINIONS are largely irrelevant.

          2. @asanator No, Hamilton said he had seen something on the telemetry.

          3. @balue Lmao….well that is official then!

          4. @asanator The point here is that there is no telemetry-settles-all as Steiner makes out

          5. @asanator in the case of Rosberg at Monaco, what is known from the telemetry is that Rosberg chose to brake 10 metres later at that corner than he had on that pole lap, and was travelling 6kph faster at the point where he aborted his attempt to turn in to the corner.

            We also know that Rosberg was also rapidly moving the steering wheel at the time – from the point at which he began braking to the point that he eventually steered off the track, he made 9 different steering motions (first steering right into the corner, and then steering left away from the corner). Those were the steering motions that Felipe Massa later commented that he thought were “very strange” when he watched the onboard shots from Rosberg’s car.

            When it comes to what the stewards made of it, Derek Warwick, who was the driver steward that weekend, made a public statement afterwards where he commented that he didn’t seem to think it was a clear cut decision from the telemetry alone whether Rosberg had or hadn’t deliberately gone off the track to cause a yellow flag.

            In the end, Warwick stated that he mainly relied on Rosberg’s personal testimony in the stewards office, and he hinted that the other stewards adopted a similar approach. It might be that a more accurate description was that the telemetry data was ultimately ambiguous enough that they couldn’t form an opinion either way based on that alone.

    2. I think F1 can only accept those rules when Q3 last longer so the cars can do more qualiflier laps otherwise a auto deletion of 2 fastest laps for 1 yellow is very harsh. Indycars does multiple Q-laps not as F1 with maximal 2 laps.

  4. On this point, I think Gunter is spot on. F1 fans and management need patience, the new regulations are coming. Let’s stop fussing and enjoy what’s playing out right now, limbo wings and rake biases and mind games be damned. Next year is going to be Strict, and this year is sort of a silly filler season in any case. I know Haas doesn’t have a lot to lose points wise this season, but they certainly have a lot to lose in the long run. I think that it is years like these, and people like Gunter Steiner, that give character to this great sport. If the best drivers in the world keep crashing in Q3 to protect their advantage, I will eat these words. With 21st century telemetry and social media, there is no cheating going on in the cockpit, and in this respect we are watching drivers in a golden age.

  5. They should just show us the tyre temperatures.

  6. I couldn’t agree more with Steiner. Pretty much what I’ve also pointed out.

    Tsunoda and Ricciardo will get on top of their respective strugglers, I’m sure.

    Monaco’s date isn’t fixed. It’s changed somewhat invariably within the latter half of May and even taken place at the halfway point as recently as 2010, etc. The specific time or part of the month has, as with most events, been and is dependent on the overall race calendar formation, i.e., the scheduling of other ones around.
    I agree with the part about TV coverage, though. I hope FOM would finally start doing the world feed footage directing in Monaco too.

    I’ve never really had an issue with tyre talk since it essentially began in 2011.

  7. @davidhunter13 Great Cotd. Well said.

    1. Thanks for highlighting this for me. Surprised I’ve had a COTD!

      I feel rather uneducated about this sport sometimes even though I’ve watched it on and off (on for the last few seasons) since the 90’s. There’s aspects to the sport I’m not that interested in, yet other people are all over them. While I don’t want the sport dumbed down I do of course want exciting real racing, where driver skill and decision making makes the difference. However the level of nursing these tyres need that is basically invisible to 99.9% of us watching on tv is not what I want. Give us tyres that linearly degrade based on how hard a driver pushes, let’s see a driver make positions because he’s pushing harder but then have to defend with weaker tyres later on and so on. Surely it can’t be too difficult to find a good balance here that would lead to differing strategies and people battling on track some more.

      Anyways next year will hopefully improve the show, can’t wait for the new cars and hopefully the new racing they will bring.

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