Charles Leclerc slams new F1 rule that will affect race preparations
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Ferrari driver Charles Leclerc has slammed a new rule that will affect the preparation of F1 drivers ahead of every race this season. Drivers who would usually take a look at this weekend’s Saudi Arabia Grand Prix circuit by bike will be forced to walk instead, due to the new rule change, adding extra time and stress to their schedule.
The new rule, which prevents drivers from using two wheels for the ‘team track walks’, was introduced ahead of the season opening Bahrain Grand Prix earlier this month. It came amid the increasing use of electric bikes and scooters, which meant the track was becoming dangerous, especially on weekends when F2 and F3 drivers were also involved.
Event organiser Formula One Management (FOM) has introduced the rule which prevents any form of transport being used during the Thursday ‘course walk sessions’. A letter was issued to the teams from FOM ahead of the Bahrain race weekend.
The letter said: “To clarify and to avoid future misunderstanding, the use of any means of transport (bicycles, e-bikes, scooters, e-scooters, etc) is forbidden during the time window stated as ‘team track walks’ on the event timetable. No exceptions will be allowed. This decision has been agreed with the FIA.”
Several changes have been made to the Saudi Arabia Grand Prix course ahead of this weekend’s race, with the ‘refashioning’ of several kerbs to help “deliver smoother, safer, and even more exciting racing”. Leclerc was one of those drivers who would usually complete the 3.7-mile (6.1km) ‘course walk’ on his bike to save time and energy ahead of a busy racing weekend.
However, he claims the new rule changes will see him ditch the traditional ‘course walk’ and watch videos of the circuit instead. “I didn’t walk around,” Leclerc told Motorsport.com. “And as I think they’ve just issued a new thing where we cannot go around the track with a bicycle you probably won’t see me around the track anymore, and I’ll just watch the videos.”
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Some of the F1 stars that were in favour of a six-kilometre walk in Jeddah faced another challenge, as the course was closed on Thursday evening while rapper Will.I.Am recorded a music video. Haas driver Nico Hulkenberg was one of those that had to change their plans at the last minute.
He added: “I wanted to do it now, but they blocked the track, and it’s all gone wrong now! I’ll watch the safety car, and I’ll see it tomorrow.” Drivers will have the chance to see the Jeddah course in practice on Friday before qualifying takes place on Saturday ahead of Sunday’s race.
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