Deliberate crashes “not regular” but F1 needs new rule to stop them – Sainz

2022 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix

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Carlos Sainz Jnr says Formula 1 should change its rules to prevent drivers benefiting from crashes in qualifying.

The Ferrari driver wants F1 to adopt a rule which penalises drivers if they trigger a yellow or red flag during qualifying. Similar regulations are already in place in other series such as IndyCar.

He believes such a rule would discourage drivers from crashing on purpose during sessions to trigger yellow or red flags in order to prevent their rivals from beating their lap times.

The debate arose amid speculation Max Verstappen raised objections within his Red Bull team about Sergio Perez’s driving in qualifying for this year’s Monaco Grand Prix. Perez crashed during his final run in Q3, which led to the session being red flagged and prevented Verstappen from improving his lap time.

Sainz, who crashed into Perez’s stricken car in the same incident, refused to indicate whether he believes the crash was deliberate, but wants F1 to introduce rules to stamp out any deliberate tactics.

“Without commenting if it was on purpose or not, I think it’s for real now that all drivers, we want some kind of a rule that if you generate a red flag or a yellow flag, even if it’s intentional or not, there should be something done to that driver,” he said. “Because you have compromised the other nine – on purpose, or maybe not – but you should get a penalty for it.

“If not, we’re all going to start playing with it. And I’ve seen over the last few years a lot more play around with it than what you might even have picked out in the media.”

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Drivers are better placed to tell when drivers have crashed deliberately in qualifying sessions, says Sainz.

“I think all 20 drivers in ourselves, when we analyse these kind of incidents, we know immediately [if] the driver has done it on purpose or not because we’re not stupid,” he said. “But I’m not going to comment [on Monaco], it’s an incident of the past. I’m just going to say that if there would be a rule, it wouldn’t even go through your head.”

Penalising drivers for disrupting sessions could heighten the tension in qualifying sessions, Sainz added, “because it means that in Q3 there’s a lot to win, but also something to lose. So you need to put a really good lap together with no mistakes if you want to take pole position.”

The idea has been floated on past occasions, including last year, when Sainz’s team mate Charles Leclerc crashed during Q3 in Monaco. “I think we’ve raised a few times, but it’s never been concluded into something,” said Sainz. “But I think for next year it should be done.”

Deliberate crashes are “not regular”, says Sainz, “but it’s been enough times already that should there should be kind of a rule for it.”

“I think in Monaco it would have been very easy to judge the situation,” he added. “I think either laps cancelled or three or five places penalty if you [cause] a yellow flag or a red flag in quali, [would] means the incentive of doing that goes away immediately. It also forces us drivers to behave and to be committed to the lap but also with a level of need maybe leaving half a percent on the table.”

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2022 Abu Dhabi 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...
Claire Cottingham
Claire has worked in motorsport for much of her career, covering a broad mix of championships including Formula One, Formula E, the BTCC, British...

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43 comments on “Deliberate crashes “not regular” but F1 needs new rule to stop them – Sainz”

  1. Russell getting to start third after his crash last Sunday really nailed that point home, there needs to be a fastest time deletion rule in place for causing a red flag in qualifying, simple as. Only exemption can be a technical failure that can’t be avoided. Deliberate crash or not shouldn’t even be the focus, it’s just not fair to be rewarded for crashing and it’s a simple fix to have this rule.

    1. Totally agree. If you crash and no-one else is involved, you are messing up other people’s sessions, regardless of whether it is deliberate or intentional. I feel the appropriate sanction is that if you singlehandedly cause a red flag, you are relegated to last position in that session. Even if it is a mechanical failure, the sanction should apply. Harsh, I know, but drivers should be able to keep the car on the track.

      1. With that as a blanket rule what if you caused a red flag and it didn’t even impact on any other driver for the rest of the session?

        1. Any red flag compromises the session and affects everyone in it, so I don’t see why there needs to be any more distinction. Who knows if during the red flag period someone could’ve had the ideal track circumstance to produce a quicker lap than they did after the red flag, after all.

          Cause a red flag? Fastest time deleted.

          I don’t agree with Alan’s statement on the technical issues. If you’re gearbox slams shut and causes you in a spin, I don’t see how that’s a drivers fault for “be able to keep the car on the track.” Similarly, even though this would be extremely rare edge cases in qualifying, if you get punted off, the person punting you off is the cause of the red flag and not you, therefor the penalty applies to them.

          Either way, far as I’m concerned, this rule doesn’t need to be all that complicated and should be easy to enforce. It still gives the offending driver a chance of doing a good race, all he lost was his car and one lap of time, just like if he had a track limits breach.

          1. SjaakFoo, regarding drivers being punted off, I’m talking about drivers who bring out a red flag all on their own, with no other car being involved, i.e. pushing too hard.

            Regarding mechanical failure being the cause of the red flag, in many cases it is academic since the team will need to fix the car so they go down the grid anyway because of parc ferme rules. When parc ferme penalties happens normally, we don’t say it is unfair to penalise the driver because it was the car that failed. Including mech failure in red flag rules would avoid a few edge cases, like a driver missing the pit entrance, trying to go around again, and running out of fuel, or a driver bashing the barrier with his rear wheel, and a few corners later having the gear box seize up as a result.

            “just like if he had a track limits breach”

            But that’s the point. A red flag isn’t like a track limits breach. A red flag is potentially taking the fastest lap off lots of other drivers, not just yourself.

          2. Any red flag compromises the session and affects everyone in it

            Not if you are the last one to start the second run at a time that noone could get the start finish line in time after you.

          3. Fair point Andy, though I can see a red flag there would still be problematic under current rules. e.g. supposing LH is last out of the pits and crashes in turn 4. MV is several corners ahead and on a blistering time. If the stewards red flag because of the crash in turn 6, that immediately stops the session, so MV loses his lap. The problem isn’t the rules, the problem in that example is that stewards are using the flags inappropriately. It would be perfectly fine to use double-waved yellows for when the cars come past on a cool down lap, or if it is really needed, to have red flags from the exit of turn 1 onwards.

            Another problem with this discussion is we are talking about red flags, but yellows are just as problematic. A car can be parked off the racing line, but stewards are still waving yellow flags, drivers are expected to back off in that section, and it ruins qually laps. The rule should be about ruining other drivers laps, not about what colour flag you caused.

          4. If you’re gearbox slams shut and causes you in a spin, I don’t see how that’s a drivers fault for “be able to keep the car on the track.”

            The problem there is that I can see team principles taking full advantage of that and basically put every spin down to a mechanical failure of some kind. And I don’t trust the FIA to get it right (though they did with Michael back in 2006).

            Indycar has this rule (for non-ovals), but it counts against your 2 fastest laps and applies regardless of the reason you stop/cause a red flag. And it’s not popular either, because with shorter sessions than in F1 it’s easier for other drivers to get screwed over for not having enough time to set a lap to get out of the group. It’s a tough one to decide on but I don’t have any problem with the current rules staying as is.

    2. Snap!

      I was thinking its just as well Hamilton doesn’t hold a grudge, the way Verstappen does, otherwise, Hamilton might be thinking twice about the way his young padawan Russell beached his car, to red-flag the qualifications to the Brazilian sprints, and thereafter keep Hamilton firmly behind him for the weekend.

      Had it not been for that incident, there’s every reason to believe Hamilton would have been the better driver in that wet qualifiy conditons, and as result would have driven to success in the sprints, and as a consequence of all that, would have secured that dream win in Brazil.

      This is what you call the butterfly effect, which strangely no one at sky seems to have given any thought to. For now we’ll just have to keep a mental note of this event and watch for a pattern of similar desperate ploys in the coming months and years. Remember where you heard this first.

  2. I’ve seen over the last few years a lot more playing around with it than what you might even have picked out in the media.

    Maybe not so regular but certainly more common than we knew.

    I think deleting Q3 time of drivers that cause yellow/red flag is a better ruling than grid penalty.

    1. I like that idea. Super simple and simple fair. I think it should also be up to stewards to issue exceptions (e.g., a tire explodes, avoiding someone on a cool down lap does something stupid leads to a crash, etc.)

      BTW, I don’t believe Perez intentionally crashed. It makes no sense. He was condemning himself to starting behind two Ferraris at Monaco. Max’s mom posting that Sergio was cheating on his wife (before deleting it) to me points to something much more personal OR that Max is really that a big a baby that he can’t accept bad luck robbing him of a pole.

      I’ve never liked Lewis or George, but now I’m willing to even root for them if it’s again Max after the display he put on this weekend. Not that I’m feeling particularly sorry for Sergio either w/him banging flusies in Monaco.

  3. BLS (@brightlampshade)
    17th November 2022, 13:24

    I semi agree but it’s impossible to rule against. We’ve seen red flags in quali for things that didn’t need red flags, so would this rule make the FIA hesitant to throw legitimate flags?

    All red flags?
    Only red flags?
    What about causing a yellow?

    Where do we draw the line here?

    1. When you have set a timed lap in Q3 and you crash your times should be removed. If you go off track and cause a yellow flag then Stewards should look at it to find out if it has affected others to prevent improving their times. Should not be a real hard thing to do.

      1. @erit Good points, but it leaves the possibility of a driver causing a flag to help his teammate. This is pretty hard to define without exploitable loopholes.

        1. Biker, I’ve been thinking that if F1 genuinely is a team sport, they should consider saying that if your team mate causes a red flag, as well as losing their own times, the other car should also lose its best time. At the moment, teams only race as teams when it is to their benefit.

      2. BLS (@brightlampshade)
        17th November 2022, 14:31

        We’ve had red flags for drivers running over kerbs and them coming loose, same for manholes.

        A driver spinning and then a second has a bigger accident trying to avoid the first.

        Extreme examples yes but they’ve happen from time to time.
        I fully agree with the intent of the idea, but in reality it’s not a cut and dry thing. Especially as it’s down to human decisions/errors on whether to throw a red/yellow flag.

        1. In the example of the red flag caused by manhole covers (I think that was Barrichello wasn’t it?), I don’t think that falls under the category of a driver causing the red flag. In that example, the red flag is caused by catastrophic track failure, not the driver doing anything unusual. Similarly, if a car spills a huge slick of oil and the car behind hits it and loses control, again the car that crashed is not the one “causing” the red flag. If a driver spins because he is trying to avoid a slow car which was weaving around on track, I’d say that is not a driver crashing in isolation. Other cars were involved so a simple red flag rule doesn’t apply. However, if a driver has a minor spin, say he puts a rear wheel on a white line, over-corrects and noses into the barrier on the opposite side, that’s entirely down to his driving, so that’s where a “red flag rule” would apply. So I think there has to be some intelligence and leniency applied here, which is probably too much to hope for if we are talking about the FIA and the stewards.

          1. BLS (@brightlampshade)
            17th November 2022, 15:37

            Yes I think all these ideas fall down when we realise that they have to be governed by the FIA, who use a penalty formula based off the team you drive for, the position of the moon, and how much the driver steward dislikes that particular driver.

    2. It’s the races where we need to stop seeing SCs and VSCs for cars way out of the line of fire and which up to about 2017-2018 the race director would never have even considered triggering either for. It’s become straight up embarrassing.

      1. Nick, agree with that. I find it hard to understand why F1 demands such high standards of tracks, but doesn’t require more run-off and park areas, and the installation of many more cranes and winches to get cars off track quickly. Was it an F1 race recently where the red flag session was extended because the tow truck was on the wrong side of the circuit? With all the money spent on F1, some low tech cranes and winches would be a small investment. I also think teams should be forbidden from telling drivers to “stop immediately” to save the engine. Drivers no longer seem able to coast for any distance to get themselves to a parking point.

        1. American series do a much better job of quickly retrieving cars. Not sure. But I am not even talking about getting them more quickly, but not being reasonable about continuing when a car is totally off line and they still throw a VSC/SC.

          Another problem, as Brundle has often complained, is wasting many laps while lapped cars catch up. First of all, they usually release them way too late. And second there’s no reason they need to be allowed to be fully caught up before restarting.

  4. Sainz jnr nailed Perez, we are not going to talk about that. He didn’t want to lose his lap so he made things more unsafe.

  5. How about a rule that allows the Race Director or Stewards to add the equivalent time of a qualifying lap + half a lap to any session red flagged due to a crash /stoppage on track when there’s less than 2 minutes remaining in a session? The driver who crashed / stopped still not able to participate, but wouldn’t penalise anyone else (unless the weather did one!!)

    1. Seems easier to just remove the time. A driver may have used up all his tires already on the lap where qualifying got red flagged and I’ve never heard of any racing organization adding time to a clock before. You could RF and freeze the clock though, but that ends up with the same thing.

      I also like doing it that way because it doesn’t reward teams and drivers for trying to be the last one out, which always creates a mess and forces someone to just go first. OK, if you want to take the risk, fair enough. But you shouldn’t also be protected from your own risk.

    2. Kevin, I too feel it should be simple to do something like that. We’ve seen too often that a red flag comes out with 80 seconds to go when the lap time is 85 seconds. I wonder if the answer to that is to say that if a red flag means it isn’t possible for cars to come out of the pits and get round to the start line in time for a final shot at qualifying, then the session is extended minimally to allow that, BUT, only for cars which were already in a position to do a qually lap when the red flag came out. i.e. if there was only 80 seconds left and you were still in the pit lane when the red flag came out, or on a cool down lap having recently passed the finish line, you wouldn’t have been able to do another lap anyway, so the extra time should only be allocated for cars which were genuinely affected. Yes, some of those cars will have already used up their tyres and running again might be pointless, but at least give them the option. I think that should be in addition to the car causing the red flag losing its times. It still might not be perfect, but it has to be better than what we have now.

    3. @kev-f1 I really like your idea. Adding time and a set of tires shouldn’t be problematic (in spite of F1 having a glitch in every software they ever produced).

      One alternative would be to go 1 by 1 in Q3, from 10th to 1st based on Q2.

    4. @kev-f1 Thing with adding time is that it may end up giving drivers a 2nd chance they didn’t deserve.

      Imagine for example a situation where Max locks up in turn 1 and ruins his final run for pole. Part way round the lap someone causes a red and the session gets extended. Max then gets another run and gets pole.

      Would it really be fair for a driver who blew what should have been his final run to get another shot because someone else made a bigger error?

  6. Completely agree. I can think of three high profile examples in Monaco since 2014 where the session has effectively ended prematurely due to driver errors – Rosberg 2014, Leclerc 2021 and now Perez this year. Not to say any or all were fully intentional, but we shouldn’t even need to debate it – drivers and teams should never benefit from their own errors. Obviously Monaco is the most prominent track that encourages this because of the importance of qualifying and the ease of causing disruption to the session, but as we have seen from last weekend there are other scenarios where it can apply too.

    1. Imola ’21 had Norris crashing and saving his 3rd position iirc. In Brazil it was a very clumsy Russell in Q3, also saving his 3rd position. The mentioned Monaco of course, but we’ve seen more of these on the street tracks earlier this year. In Baku, Q3 was also cut short with yellows. Alonso crashing in Q3 Australia, despite it being a car failure. It hinders the other 19 when stuff like this happens.

      It should be simple:
      Cause a yellow: loses best lap from that session.
      Cause a red: loses best two times from that session and you no longer participate in qualifying. If your time still was enough to advance, you can sit the rest out and will be 10/15th for the race.

    2. Schumacher done it way before 2014 at Monaco in 2006

    3. And Russell in Brazil? Was he simply too subtle, donnuting after he had cleared the gravel trap?

  7. All drivers know the risk and reward for the time they leave the pits. Going last sometimes helps as does going first.

    Plenty of times we have seen on the second runs in Q3 the times are slower for everyone. So if someone were to cause a red flag then it would be a penalty for actually trying to improve.

  8. I hatethe idea of drivers losing times for mistakes when doing what they are supposed to be doing in qualifying which is pushing to and at times beyond the limit to maximise performance.

    More often than not the mistake is already a penalty as it costs the the chance to improve and it’s pretty rare for a driver to gain from a mistake.

    Just leave things as they are no need to change anything.

    Do you penalise drivers for causing yellow flags in passing zones in races that prevents overtaking? That can have a bigger impact on a race result and potential championship than qualifying.

    They introduce this silly sort of rule for an already badly overregulated show it’s just going to open up a lot more issues than it solves.

    1. petebaldwin (@)
      17th November 2022, 16:20

      There’s always this argument against this proposal which I can understand but I honestly don’t think it would stop drivers pushing to the max – it would just add another ingredient into the mix. As it stands, there is no consequence for pushing too hard and it therefore makes what they are doing less impressive… I’ve used the analogy before but it’s like comparing a tight-rope walk at 100m in the air vs a tightrope walk where the rope is placed on the ground. Watching someone walk reasonably fast 100m in the air would be incredible to see whereas watching someone sprint across the rope on the ground wouldn’t.

      At the moment, F1 feels a bit too much like the latter and it makes it much less exciting to watch. I don’t necessarily want to un-do the safety measures the sport has brought in so the alternative is to give people more of a penalty for going off. If you push too hard, you’ll lose positions on the grid so what do you do? Be cautious? The best won’t so if anything, it’ll just further separate out the best from the rest which will increase the impact the ability of a driver has on the overall results – something we all surely want.

  9. This matter again? Why do people bring up this pointlessness over & over again every now & then?
    My view hasn’t changed at all, i.e., only if anyone truly deliberately causes a red or yellow (which no one, of course, does), as otherwise, drivers would get unfairly penalized for genuine errors.
    Otherwise, not much point in having a qualifying session or at least not any format involving drivers doing their flying laps simultaneously & mistakes that occasionally hamper others have happened ever since 2006 rather than only in the recent past, yet people never complained before.

    1. If you don’t think Rosberg and Michael Shumacher didn’t crash deliberately in Monaco qualifying, you are deluded and very naive. Neither were at all convincing acting efforts.

      Incidentally, If I remember right, Schumacher has twice been suspected of doing it, with a little-known incident earlier in his junior series career.

  10. Maybe anyone who causes a yellow/red flag in a qualifying session should be banned froom F1 forever.

    That would REALLY heighten the tension in qualfying. Make a mistake, you’re out of F1. Really high stakes. Think of the drama!

    Or maybe just assume that’s the downside of certain tracks, that drivers will make mistakes when driving at their limits. Maybe Sainz should be working on being faster on his first Q3 lap.

  11. The BTCC has had a quali session ‘fastest lap lost’ rule in the event of a red flag caused by a driver. Seems to calm them down quite a bit

  12. Max’s fans who started this unfounded rumour is so full of crap, dun need to try so hard to defend his lack of grace and gratitude.

    Anyone in F1 would know you dun want to crash the cars, esp the back. This may result in a broken gearbox and 10 place grid penalty. This is also why MS was so clumsy in his crash and why NR chosen to enter the escape road.

  13. Difficult one. I do see and agree to an extent the penalising of a driver who causes a red or yellow, but Q3 is the only time we really see the drivers and cars at their limit, pushing as hard as they can. Penalties for them pushing too hard seem draconian and will mean they are more cautious which is what we get the rest of the race weekend.

  14. I think if anyone causes a Quali Red flag they should be immediately relegated to the back of the respective session.

    A yellow/double yellow loss of their fastest time.

    It is starting to happen too frequently and as such suitable penalties should be in place…

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