Does F1 need a rule to discourage deliberate crashes? RaceFans
As Charles Leclerc clinched the all-important pole position in Monaco by raising red flags after hitting the barriers of the pool complex after running slightly off as he entered the corner, the cries of “Schumacher 2006” were heard. sounded in the media center. Other hacks recalled “Rosberg 2014 …”
The old incident referred, of course, to the seaside parking maneuver of the record champion at Rascasse, who denied his rival Fernando Alonso an almost certain pole position. Until, that is to say, the stewards relegate the Ferrari driver to the rear after a marathon investigation into the “ error ”, which blocked the track, in turn preventing the driver Renault and other rivals complete their flying laps.
The Nico Rosberg incident was more subtle: after setting the best time in Q3, the German locked himself – whether by design or by mistake will never be definitively known – at Mirabeau, setting off flags that sabotaged the crack of his teammate Lewis Hamilton on pole. Importantly, there was no damage to the Mercedes – heightening suspicion in the paddock – but Rosberg survived the stewards unscathed.
Now compare these incidents with the Leclerc accident: not only did the Monegasque rip the Ferrari’s right front wheel when he hit the barrier in the turn, but the rear wheel shock that followed sent enough shocks through the transmission to the left hub to cause its retreat. of his home grand prize on the reconnaissance lap.
Does it seem as if Leclerc engineered the crash to deny the pole to Max Verstappen, a position the Red Bull driver effectively inherited after the Ferrari broke away in the pits and in the garage? For a deliberate accident, look no further than the damage inflicted on his Renault by the Nelson Piquet Jnr “ Crashgate ” incident, purposely caused by the Brazilian to trigger a safety car that his teammate Alonso benefited from by design.
Indeed, according to a source, the FIA found no difference in Leclerc’s throttle and steering inputs between his “ crash ” turn and his previous effort, except that he was an inch or two more. to the right when entering the swimming pool. It made all the difference, at a very high price.
So the outcry after qualifying was not only totally wrong, but also raises the question: why change the regulations to penalize a driver who is ‘on top’ in the later stages of qualifying but breaks down in the process? In his post-race report, FIA Race Director Michael Masi admitted that F1 could consider regulations similar to those applied in IndyCar and other major championships.
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“I know the IndyCar rule, which is also a rule in a number of other FIA International Series and National Championships around the world,” he said. “And we’re going to take a look at it and, with all the key stakeholders, determine if it’s appropriate or not.”
What then say the IndyCar regulations about such incidents? Article 8.3.9 states: “If a car causes a red condition in a segment, the car’s two best timed laps in the segment will be prohibited, the car will not be able to continue in the segment and the car will not advance to the segment. following. . “
According to IndyCar rules, Leclerc (and Schumacher and Rosberg) would have lost pole position for having raised red flags, like, above all, any driver who would have strayed from the limit on any circuit during a session. qualifying during what is a grand prix weekend’s ultimate speed test will be penalized by scrapping its best two laps.
Potentially all this upheaval because the unique circumstances of Monaco have caused three incidents in 15 years, only one of which was deemed deliberate …
The point is, the Monaco road circuit poses the greatest precision driving challenge, being devoid of areas of runoff except where the local road system coincidentally provides them. So crashes will happen when drivers give it their all (and more), but surely that’s the essence of F1. Threaten a penalty and they’ll come back out of caution, denying fans the spectacle of the pilots to the absolute limit as they demolish the barriers.
As F1 has discovered too often with its instinctive rule changes, there are bound to be unintended consequences, which then stick their heads elsewhere, demanding yet another rule change, then another and so on. The Leclerc incident was extremely costly for him and the Scuderia, and you can bet the two have learned a lesson. Experience is the best teacher, not a one-time rule change imported from another series.
Hopefully Masi and F1 will find that IndyCar regulations are “not suited” to F1 as a whole.
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