Stewards preparing to clamp down on slow out-laps after 55 violations in qualifying

2022 Spanish Grand Prix

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Formula 1 stewards are preparing to take a tougher line on drivers who lap too slowly during qualifying sessions.

After qualifying for the Spanish Grand Prix the stewards noted “55 violations by 18 drivers” had taken place where they had failed to stay below the maximum time between the two Safety Car lines.

Among them were Haas drivers Kevin Magnussen and Mick Schumacher – both of whom were investigated over the infringements. The stewards let both drivers off with formal warnings, but stated future violations may be treated more harshly.

The stewards reviewed the many instances of drivers failing to obey the maximum time and found “the majority of cases were a result of drivers following another driver who was also on an out-lap.”

“As each driver attempted to create a gap to the preceding driver, they went successively slower,” the stewards explained. This resulted in multiple drivers lapping more slowly than they were required to.”

However the stewards noted the Haas drivers had played a significant role in causing the slow laps. “On the five occasions when these ‘trains’ developed during the out-laps of qualifying, the driver of car 47, Mick Schumacher, and the driver of car 20, Kevin Magnussen were the first, or nearly the first, out of the pits due to their garage location, and so were able to control their speed without having to be concerned about cars in front of them,” the stewards noted.

“Further, the stewards found that generally the cars that failed to follow the race director’s event note were following these two cars.”

The stewards decided against penalising the two Haas drivers as “the procedure required by the note is relatively new and was introduced during this season and has not involved a penalty up to this point.” However, they left the door open to impose stiffer penalties in future on drivers who cause others to slow down during their out-laps in the same way.

“The stewards determine that these drivers’ failure to follow the instructions was more under their control than any other drivers. As the procedure is new and in view of the fact that other drivers did violate the instruction, but not to this degree, the stewards issue a warning to the drivers concerned.

“The stewards note that further violations may incur increased penalties not only for these drivers but for any competitor committing a similar breach in the future.”

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2022 Spanish Grand Prix

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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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15 comments on “Stewards preparing to clamp down on slow out-laps after 55 violations in qualifying”

  1. Driving out of the garage and then dawdling in the pitlane seems particularly unnecessary and unsporting given that drivers behind have no chance to overtake.

  2. They just need to get Pirelli to make a better tire as the biggest reason this has become as big an issue as it has in recent years is because of how narrow a working range the tires have on top of how quickly they overheat and lose performance.

    Even looking back to the dedicated qualifying tires in the 80s/90s they weren’t as temperature sensitive and didn’t need to be prepared or managed anywhere close to what the more recent Pirelli tires have needed to.

    But even so i don’t really see the driving slowly as much of an issue, Certainly not a big enough issue to warrant reprimands and penalties. I mean we used to have more cars on track in qualifying with none of the timing, tracking and gps we have now with cars way further off the pace and it wasn’t seen as an issue, Drivers just had to manage the traffic and watch the mirrors and doing so was considered a core skill.

    If they aren’t going to improve the tires then just get teams to pay closer attention to the gps tracking and keep drivers informed of whats going on around them.

    1. Even looking back to the dedicated qualifying tires in the 80s/90s they weren’t as temperature sensitive and didn’t need to be prepared or managed anywhere close to what the more recent Pirelli tires have needed to.

      Perhaps the teams knew less about tyre management back then, or maybe the tyres then were nearer to the road tyre life span and degradation behaviour as you suggest.
      Who knows?

    2. Of course it’s Pirelli’s fault, just like everything else that’s ‘bad’ in F1, right @roger-ayles?
      I can’t recall you, even once, acknowledging how much the cars themselves have changed since the 80’s and 90’s. Always straight to blaming Pirelli, as if there is another supplier currently doing a better job to compare with.

      The level of data mining done in the the 80’s/90’s was a tiny fraction of what they do now. The level of aero dependence and raw performance back then was equally minuscule. The approach to F1 – and motorsport in general – then was completely different to now, too. Being within the top 5% of those cars’ (and tyres’) potential performance was pretty good, while they now push for the final 0.5 percent all the time – and they know exactly when they get it, due to all that telemetry and the sheer amount of simulation they do now.

      As for drivers deliberately driving slowly – that not all about the tyres either. Especially not now that they know they can get their competitors penalised by slowing them down.
      They used to have a gentlemen’s agreement, let’s not forget. Sadly, gentlemen no longer compete in F1 because there is too much money at stake.

      We don’t need a huge crash involving a car on a hot lap and another dawdling around at 60kph ‘making a gap’ in order to do something about it. Prevention is better than cure – or in this case, simply being late to make sensible tweaks. This is a safety rule, not one just put in for the sake of change to make ‘old F1 fans’ feel uncomfortable or to make more money.
      Maximum lap time should be a hard limit at no more than 10 seconds off peak pace, AFAIC (and yes, they know pretty well what that will be because it is accurately predicted and simulated prior to the event too). Even that is too much really, given that the drivers have no problem racing around within 5 or 6 seconds for 20 laps at a time during a race.

  3. Hang on? Clamp down? Surely the new race director would have sorted this out by race 6?
    Or maybe they were too distracted by jewellery.
    Maybe this shows that Niels Wittich hasn’t done such a great job after all?

    1. Mr Freitas is the FIA race director for this Grand Prix.

      1. @proesterchen yes I know, which is why it’s the first time this has been brought up this season, because Freitas is paying attention!

    2. @eurobrun Niels was lucky no one got seriously hurt in Miami and that he had not had to handle a Max v Hamilton championship. Now for some reason Freitas is doing this GP. All I can say thus far is that this issue is of the highest priority and q1 was a good example, of all pitfalls of current qualifying. It feels that sometimes some cars go out for one last run just to be a bit of a nuisance even without impeding, a lot cars go out on old tyres just to fill up the track, also thet often overstay after an hotlap or loiter around before one. Cars want to go slow but in q3 some of the outlaps werent that slow, they have shown that the maximum time can be achieved. Better than having to rely on cars moving out of the way which has proved fallible f1 should incite teams to be mindful, follow a delta, at least for s3 and go for quicker in laps.

    3. About bl00dy time!!!
      Although this appears to be by the stewards, not the Race Director. I previously understood Nils & Freitas were doing alternate GPs, but would appear this is Freitas’s first GP.
      Surely the stewards & Race Director have discussed this debacle before now??
      One thing is certain, the teams/drivers have clearly demonstrated they can’t be trusted to exercise commonsense

  4. If it’s a rule and they violated the rule, penalize them.

  5. I’m not sure that the these rules can be followed by the drivers.
    No dawdling in the pit lane, which I agree with, means they can be out on the circuit too close to the driver in front. If the driver in front is going as slow as possible under the min speed rule, then how can the following drivers create a gap without driving below the minimum speed allowed?

    1. Alianora La Canta (@alianora-la-canta)
      22nd May 2022, 9:05

      @w-k By applying judicious use of the loud pedal to overtake the slow car ahead.

      1. Yep. It really is that simple.
        Don’t want a penalty? Go faster.

  6. I have often wondered whether it feasible to split the grid for Q1.

    1. Alianora La Canta (@alianora-la-canta)
      22nd May 2022, 9:08

      I don’t think so – firstly because one half would get a major advantage over the other through sheer [insert metric used to determine session], leading to gamesmanship, and secondly because due to the need to get cars back into the pits after each “half” and clear the pit lane, the default Q1 length would have to drop to 6-7 minutes each, which is an awkward length (too long for one run, too short for two).

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