F1 tweaks rules ahead of São Paulo Grand Prix

Ahead of the São Paulo Grand Prix, Formula 1 has issued new guidance to drivers in an effort to tamp down on “impeding” during qualifying.

Following qualifying at the Mexico City Grand Prix last week three drivers — Max Verstappen, George Russell, and Fernando Alonso — were investigated for “impeding” during the session. All three drivers were noted to have stopped on pit lane in an effort to find the right spot on the track for their qualifying runs. The three drivers were each cleared of their conduct and no action was taken, as race stewards noted the “contrary requirements” of respecting minimum times, creating a safe gap to cars in front, and not holding up traffic behind them.

Following qualifying, Verstappen was asked about the investigation.

“I think it’s all imperfect at the moment. So, we need to come up with something else, but it’s hard. Yeah, I 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. So, this is for me, 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 in the beginning of the pit-lane, we didn’t know, of course, what other people are doing. So, you are constantly, of course, then trying to judge a gap,” added Verstappen. “You don’t want to start a lap within three four seconds of someone, because that’s really bad for following. But, on the other hand, if we wouldn’t have had this kind of minimum lap time, then maybe you have some impeding into the last sector again, so it’s just all quite tough, I guess, to find a good compromise.”

Race stewards in Mexico City concluded their findings with respect to each driver with the following language:

“It is desirable that better solution be found for the pit lane exit however at this stage, what that solution would be, is unknown.”

Today, stewards in São Paulo have tried their hand at a new solution, and perhaps the compromise Verstappen was looking for.

In the Race Director’s Event Notes issued on Thursday, new guidance was provided regarding this issue:

The pertinent language reads as follows:

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 pit lane. 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.

We will get our first look at this new guidance in action during Friday’s qualifying session for the São Paulo Grand Prix.

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