Oscar Piastri, McLaren, Bahrain International Circuit, 2024

Pit lane qualifying queues are a necessary evil, say drivers

Formula 1

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The sight of Formula 1 drivers queueing in the pit lane during qualifying sessions is likely to become a fixture.

Drivers have taken to lining up in the fast lane of the pits as a result of changes made to the qualifying rules last year. They require drivers to adhere to a maximum time between flying laps, reducing their opportunity to slow down on the track and create space to cars ahead. They are instead doing this in the pits before they leave.

Further attempts to improve the rules were proposed for this weekend but scrapped after the first day of running. The top three qualifiers yesterday agreed the current arrangement is the best solution to the problem, despite the queueing it creates in the pits.

“I think this is the safest way to go about it,” said Max Verstappen. “It’s probably not ideal, but I prefer that the cars are stopping in the pit lane than on the straight or in the last corner.

“So at the moment, this is, I think, the best solution. But we keep on trying to look at things to make it better.”

Charles Leclerc said he “completely agrees” with Verstappen.

FIA race director Niels Wittich originally announced a change to the rules this weekend, which would require drivers to follow a maximum time between the mini-sectors around the lap. But Leclerc said drivers did not like the change.

“The FIA came up with a new system yesterday which I think wasn’t exactly what we wanted,” he explained. “We all asked to come back to the system of last year.

“So it’s an ongoing process where we try to find the best solution. As Max said, I think you have to slow down at one point and it’s much better to do it in the pit lane than on track. So I think it’s the best solution we have at the moment.”

George Russell was investigated for failing to follow the rules but later cleared. He also said he prefers the regulations as they are.

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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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7 comments on “Pit lane qualifying queues are a necessary evil, say drivers”

  1. Like most rules in every aspect of life – they are perfectly fine until people start taking them to the extreme and beyond.
    There was a time – not very long ago – when rules about minimum speeds and not impeding others weren’t even an idea, never mind a necessary consideration, because the competitors simply did the right thing voluntarily (for the vast majority of the time, anyway).

    For anyone in and around F1 who thinks there are too many rules – it’s only because the competitors constantly seek to undermine them every opportunity. Change those attitudes first, and maybe then we can have nice things again.

  2. Easy way to stop it: on leaving the garage set a minimum speed in the pit lane up to the first safety car line.

    1. That sounds dangerous… The queue in the pit lane is completely fine why is this even under discussion. Much safer than almost stopping on track to create a gap when cars are coming in qualifying pace behind you.

      1. Exactly @afonic.

  3. If you come out of the pits and someone drives out of the garage in front of you and then sticks to the minimum time, there’s no way to build a gap without slowing in the pits. The only option is to pass on track. That means the options are drivers slowing in the pits or drivers fighting on track on out laps when other cars are doing push laps which to me, seems more likely to cause problems.

  4. I think the queuing in the pits is fine.

    It doesn’t cause any issues with safety & ensures everyone enters the track with a good gap around them which reduces/eliminates the traffic issues on out laps we used to see. It’s certainly better than what we had with the traffic in the final sector.

    It actually kinda similar to what used to happen in the 80s/90s as cars used to have to stop at the end of the pit lane so the officials could check the numbers printed on the tyre to ensure the cars were using a set allocated to that driver. So you used to have queues at the end of the pit lane as drivers waited to be waved out.

  5. Every team got a release button and a release time. Just like traffice control on airfields.
    It you miss your slot you get back in the cue.
    Advantage: every car starts from the pitbox. No lining up in the pitslane and you know exactly when to release the car.
    So planning is essential and timing in the quali extra important.

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