Carlos Sainz Jnr, Ferrari, Monaco, 2023

Sainz wants special qualifying format in Monaco as Q1 is “too dangerous”

2023 Monaco Grand Prix

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Carlos Sainz Jnr has called on Formula 1 to copy the qualifying format used by junior series in Monaco to improve safety.

The Ferrari driver says the track is too congested when 20 cars are trying to set laps at the same time during Q1. He wants F1 to use a similar group qualifying system to that used in Formula 2 and Formula 3 at the unusually short and narrow Monte-Carlo circuit.

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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2023 Monaco 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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12 comments on “Sainz wants special qualifying format in Monaco as Q1 is “too dangerous””

  1. No we don’t. It’s a known fact that traffic is an issue at Monaco, plan your runs accordingly…

  2. I am not in favour of this. Yesterday’s qualifying was amazing and it wouldn’t have been if the field had been split in two.

  3. I respectfully disagree. Sure, Monaco is beyond narrow especially with these jumbo-sized cars, but the number doesn’t really matter as we saw in Q3 with Norris and Leclerc.

  4. Electroball76
    28th May 2023, 9:46

    If they obey the speed limit (50 km/h), and always ‘mirror, signal, manoeuvre’, it should be safe enough. Respect other road users and remember all the time you have to leave the space.

  5. F1 already has a split qualifying, given that Q1 is 20 minutes, that should be more than enough time for everyone to get in at least one clean lap. Make it count, Carlos.

  6. Quite so, but do remember to accelerate to 60 in the pit lane

  7. The quali should be longer – make it 20min for each part. It’s worth it since the quali is more exciting than the race.

  8. Coventry Climax
    28th May 2023, 11:41

    Sure, the losers always want the rules to change. Preferrably only for the others, but if that’s not possible, at least in their own favour.
    Declaring it a ‘safety issue’ has worked numerous times before; the FIA falls for it with open eyes (or plain willingly) frequently.

  9. Dangerous, lol.

  10. I don’t think the actual format needs changing even for Monaco as while it is a shorter & tighter lap than elsewhere it’s more open in places now than it used to be when you had more cars on the track with a far greater performance variance between them, Less TV coverage & none of the more advanced timing/tracking data that they have now.

    I think the only change that needs to happen & not just for Monaco is for the FIA to give teams/drivers very clear instructions on how they should handle in/out laps in terms of staying off the racing line & it should be mandated that the pit wall has to keep them well informed about where other cars behind them are.

    The biggest issue if drivers on slow laps staying on the racing line with the pit wall not keeping them upto date on who’s coming up behind them. If your off the racing line & know cars are coming up then in theory at least there should be no impeding or close calls.

  11. If only there was a racing series that already figured out how you can minimize the amount of traffic in qualifying. Something about temporarily putting the timing line before the pit entry; F1 could even use one of the timing lines that already exists for the micro-sectors.

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