The recent investigations into Max Verstappen and George Russell at the Mexican Grand Prix have prompted the FIA to introduce a new rule. With immediate effect, drivers will now be banned from stopping at the end of the pit lane’s ‘fast lane’ during qualifying sessions.
This has become a prevalent issue in 2023 with drivers stopping at the end of the pit lane and backing up other drivers in order to create a significant enough gap to the cars in front during their qualifying out laps.
Verstappen and Russell were both guilty of doing this during qualifying for the Mexican GP, attracting criticism from other drivers and team principals after creating traffic jams in the pit lane.
However, their antics were prompted by another relatively fresh FIA rule change, which has mandated drivers to be within a maximum lap time threshold during out laps in qualifying. This directive was brought in to combat the qualifying traffic jams that have posed a major safety issue for years in F1.
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Announcing the change in his race notes ahead of the Brazilian Grand Prix, race director Niels Wittich explained: “As per article 33.4 of the Formula 1 Sporting Regulations, drivers are not allowed to go unnecessarily slow, that includes stopping a car in the fast lane of the pitlane.
“During Shootout and Qualifying, drivers may create a gap between the pit exit lights and the SC2 line. Any driver who wishes to do so must drive as far to the left as possible to allow other drivers to pass them on the right side of the pit exit road.”
This news will come as a frustration to Verstappen, who made his feelings clear after being placed under and then cleared of any investigation by the stewards in Mexico. The reigning world champion suggested that it was a necessary evil to create a sufficient gap between the cars in front.
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He explained: “Just the thing I don’t understand is like everyone is trying to make a gap now in the pit lane, which is the only place where we can do so. So I don’t really understand how you can be impeding someone.
“I think we have to be a little bit more lenient with that, knowing that it’s a safe environment. I mean, we’re driving really slow, it’s the only place where we can make a gap because, I mean, we drive out of the box and of course, we are in the beginning of the pit lane, we don’t know of course what other people are doing.”
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