Lando Norris, McLaren, Baku City Circuit, 2023

Quirk of new rules means no Q3 for Norris and Tsunoda on Saturday

2023 Azerbaijan Grand Prix

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Lando Norris and Yuki Tsunoda will not be able to take part in Q3 during tomorrow’s sprint race qualifying session due to a quirk of Formula 1’s new rules.

The regulations, which were approved by the FIA’s World Motorsport Council just four days before they were due to be used for the first time, place strict limits on what type of tyres drivers may use during each stage of sprint race qualifying.

In the final phase of qualifying for the sprint race, referred to in the regulations as SQ3, drivers are only allowed to use a new set of soft tyres. The rules specifically forbid the use of tyres which have already been run – article 30.5 (iv) states: “In the period SQ3 of the sprint shootout, up to one set of dry-weather tyres may be used, and this must only be a new set of the soft specification.”

Norris and Tsunoda used their entire allocation of soft tyres during Friday’s two sessions and both drivers reached Q3, taking seventh and eighth on the grid respectively. But if either driver reaches Q3 in the second qualifying session tomorrow, which decides the starting grid for the sprint race, neither will have tyres they are allowed to run on.

The pair can therefore start the sprint race no higher than ninth or 10th – a detail their teams may have taken into consideration when they chose to run their last remaining sets of soft tyres.

Pirelli’s head of motorsport Mario Isola confirmed the meaning of the rule. “If you look at the regulation you are obliged to use a new set of tyres,” he said. “Obviously it’s a new regulation and it’s probably needed to do some fine-tuning.”

F1’s official tyre supplier stated the two drivers had used all their soft tyres by the end of running on Friday.

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Drivers’ remaining tyres after qualifying

Max Verstappen203015
Sergio Perez203015
Charles Leclerc114014
Carlos Sainz Jnr104015
Lewis Hamilton203015
George Russell203024
Esteban Ocon203015
Pierre Gasly203042
Lando Norris114005
Oscar Piastri114014
Valtteri Bottas203015
Guanyu Zhou203024
Lance Stroll113015
Fernando Alonso203015
Nico Hulkenberg113132
Kevin Magnussen104033
Nyck de Vries203132
Yuki Tsunoda203105
Logan Sargeant203015
Alexander Albon203015

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2023 Azerbaijan Grand Prix

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    Author information

    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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    32 comments on “Quirk of new rules means no Q3 for Norris and Tsunoda on Saturday”

    1. Great way to liven up the show by having rules that prevent drivers from taking part in a session!

      1. It’s not the rules that are preventing the drivers from participating. It’s the teams and drivers not reading the rules correctly and using up all their tires instead of saving one. McLaren and AlphaTauri are your boogeymen here.

        1. @sjaakfoo I’d be surprised if they made such a fundamental mistake on new regulations which are all anyone’s talked about all weekend. More likely they weighed up the pros and cons and decided it was better to use their new tyres today for the main qualifying session.

          1. Either way, getting mad at Liberty seems silly to me.

            As you say, the rule is written clearly.

            1. @sjaakfoo but what is the point of the rule existing in the first place? What practical function is that rule meant to serve?

        2. Yellow Barron
          28th April 2023, 22:53

          No the regulations are flawed. What’s wrong with using a used set if tyres? Makes no sense

          1. What’s wrong with saving a set of new tyres, as the regs clearly describe is necessary?
            18 other competitors managed it OK…

            1. The question is not “what’s wrong with saving a set of new tyres?” but “Why bother, unless you think you have a realistic chance of securing 8th/7th (depending on how much advantage the clean side of the grid gets at a given track?”

              The way the regulations are written punishes the viewers because there’s every reason for teams in some situations to optimise the fun out of a policy.

        3. They did read the rules and deliberately chose to use the tyres in the Q for the main race instead of saving them for Q3 of the sprint race.

          There was a vote to close this loophole, but not enough teams were in favour of closing this loophole.

    2. This is the sort of nonsense that happens when you start writing regulations days before the race weekend they are going to be used in.

      It’s clear these regulations weren’t done for the good of the sport, Only for the show so no real sporting thought was put into them as they were been rushed through for the netflix fans.

      But as I’ve said a few times the show has won over the sport now.

      1. And for me, the show also lost out because Saturday was extremely dull to watch. Between that and giving much too clear a view of how performance will work on Sunday, I’m tempted to not watch any future race that features this format. (And I say this as someone who supports a driver who shines in qualifying and thus, in theory, should be happy with seeing 2 qualifying sessions in the same weekend).

    3. I predicted this would happen but I figured Ferrari was going to be put out by the lack of new sorts. Good thing they thought through this rule change thoroughly for months in advance! Oh they just came up with all this last week? Nice. Good look, F1. Hire smart people and listen to them.

    4. AllTheCoolNamesWereTaken
      28th April 2023, 21:07

      Comedian Natasha Leggero once did a bit where she lampooned the incomprehensible, make-it-up-as-we-go-along style of rules often employed by reality shows to keep things interesting: “Tonight, the bottom two decide which six will join the final five.”

      I feel very strongly that reading about F1 should not remind me of this quote. And yet, more and more, it does.

    5. Jonathan Parkin
      28th April 2023, 21:24

      In the words of Neil from Tenet. ‘Does your head hurt yet’

    6. They obviously need extra tyres for this sprint format. Nobody is going to sacrifice the main qualifying if he flat spots a set to save it for spring quali.

      1. @afonic yes separate tyre allocation for sprint races make sense. I expect all teams will put emphasis on the main event over the sprint and would have done the same in similar circumstances. Right call by the teams imo, poor planning by LM/FIA not foreseeing this. Just because they’re wrapped up in the sprint hype, doesn’t mean the teams are.

        1. @antznz LM/FIA tried foreseeing this, but the teams wouldn’t agree to the format change with the loophole closed.

    7. …And the sprint keeps getting better

    8. Considering how close the midfield is and that all other drivers in Q3 will have new soft tyres, it’s very likely they wouldn’t do a lap even if they were allowed to. No point risking a crash on slower tyres, just for the sake of possibly starting 9th instead of 10th.

      It would be nice if, from now on, drivers were also given an extra set of soft tyres for SQ3.

    9. In the words of the great WWE. Hit him with a chair!
      More like fake wrestling every damn day.

      1. That is why after 50+ years I haven’t watched a race since the 21 debacle. I pop out here from time to time, in hope, but can only witness F1 continuous decay. At least WWE doesn’t pretend.

    10. Wonder if it was * or** if a new “well everyone can have an extra set of softs ” ruling would have been made effective immediately.

    11. F1 is becoming a total farce.

    12. Funny how almost everyone is blaming the rules (and the people who created them) and not the teams for simply making their own decisions.
      I reckon most of us would remember Monza’s qualifying a few years ago, where 9 of the 10 participants did themselves out of their fastest lap by playing stupid games and trying to outsmart each other.

      2 teams just did it again, effectively.

      Consider also, that this isn’t a tyre regulation problem. This is a direct result of decoupling the sprint from the GP, as the sprint now carries far less importance.

      1. In both cases you cite, the regulations caused a situation where the behaviour that was deemed a problem was the most effective way to race.

        Except, of course, that in Monza 2019 the drivers slightly overdid it, 8 of the 10 drivers missed the start of their flying lap as a result and the 9th one didn’t need to run because his team had noticed that the 10th driver had no realistic chance of demoting him and told him to stop/forgot to look at the timing screen before giving radio instruction (delete as appropriate).

        The only way in which not having tyres to run yesterday could be a mistake is if you think teams and drivers should have a primary goal other than to race as well as possible within the constraints of the regulations of their series.

    13. No surprise, drivers and teams have been saying they will prioritise the main event over the sprint. This is the logical and best way to use tyre allocation for the teams. With all the hype and excitement by those creating the rules around the sprint race and quali, they seem to have forgotten it isn’t the main event. This isn’t where the big points are scored. A separate tyre allocation for sprint qualifying would have solved this. There’s also no reason the set should have to be new.

      Another bungled rule change that’s been rushed through with flaws that are easily addressed.

    14. Long story short, if either one reaches Q3, they’ll have to sit out the entire phase, meaning P9 & P10 with the specific order depending on their order post-Q2 order.
      Weird rule, overall, not the medium-medium-soft pattern for Q1-Q2-Q3, respectively, but the part about only a single set & entirely unusued one.

    15. What a flipping stupid rule.

    16. David Townrow
      29th April 2023, 9:24

      I’d the 2 teams just prioritised the GP rather than the sprint. Also if they have not much hope of beating the 4 current front runners whats the point of running in Q3 to qualify 9/10th anyway.

      So smart decision to start the GP as high up the grid as possible .

      Lets watch out for Pierre – he has his 4 sets to get through!

    17. Typical.

      Lets hope they make it through to Q3 and this rule quirk is on display for the world to see.

    18. “The pair can therefore start the sprint race no higher than ninth or 10th…”. F1’s official tyre supplier stated the two drivers had used all their soft tyres by the end of running on Friday.

      Sadly, we are running into the consequences of believing the rules needed to be changed because of an unknown Exceptional Circumstance. The FIA had plenty of opportunity to change the rules before the season started so as to allow for this format, but they didn’t.

    19. What are the chanchances of these two beating Red Bull, Ferrari, Aston Martin or Mercedes? In other words, of doing better than P9 and P10?

      It’s good thinking by their teams to prioritise the Big Race.

      That said, it’s unfortunate for the fans who only get to see an 8 car session.

    Comments are closed.