Carlos Sainz Jnr has called on Formula 1 to copy the qualifying format used by junior series in Monaco to improve safety.
In the junior categories, the fields are split into two groups which run at different times. Whichever driver sets the quickest time across the two sessions takes pole position, and the other drivers from that session take the odd-numbered starting positions. The drivers from the other session take the even-numbered grid places.
The arrangement is considered necessary in F2 and F3 due to the inexperience of the drivers and their larger field sizes – 22 and 30 cars respectively. F1 only has 20 cars but they are physically larger and faster than those used in the junior series.
After yesterday’s qualifying session Sainz said F1 needs to use the same qualifying format as F2 and F3 do in Monaco. “Q1 is too much,” he said. “I think with these wide cars and everything it’s too dangerous.
“We should find a way to to split into 10 cars the qualifying, one team each. I’m pretty sure that that would [alleviate] all the mess that we saw in Q1.”
However other drivers are not convinced the change is necessary. Lando Norris, who was impeded by Sainz’s team mate Charles Leclerc in Q3 when only 10 cars are allowed on track, dismissed the idea.
“They don’t need to if everyone just does the job they should and gets out the way, although it didn’t happen today,” said the McLaren driver. “But it’s really not that difficult, honestly.”
Oscar Piastri, whose last qualifying appearance in Monaco was the split session in F2, also isn’t convinced F1 needs the same format. “It makes traffic much better but I think with 20 cars it’s not too bad,” he said. “We even saw at the end with Lando with 10 cars on track, it’s still an issue. So I don’t mind either way, to be honest, I’m not fussed.”
One driver suggested using a group qualifying arrangement in Monaco during the pre-race drivers briefing, RaceFans understands, but the idea is yet to be formally studied. The FIA intends to consider whether it could be an option for future use.
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