The FIA is thinking of bringing another amendment in the motorsport’s management by introducing a new rule. The governing body has proposed an initiative to penalize drivers who intentionally trigger red or yellow flags during the qualifying. As a result, other drivers’ laps get ruined during the qualifying and restrict them from putting on a better lap time. The proposal was discussed during the weekend in Baku after Fernando Alonso drove on an escape road at the end of Saturday’s Q1. Moreover, his movement on the track triggered a yellow flag which eventually spoiled the laps of everyone behind, and he might have lost a chance of beating Alonso. Alex Albon, who was right behind the two-time world champ, claimed that Fernando had gone off the track deliberately to frustrate the following drivers.
However, the concern about the drivers making desperate and unethical efforts to win is nothing new, especially on street circuits. The seven-time world champ, Michael Schumacher, was involved in one such incident during the Monaco GP in 2006. The former German driver was removed from qualifying after the stewards’ decision. They determined that Michael stopped on the track deliberately at Rascasse, which led to an early end to the session. This allowed the German racer to secure the pole.
Further, a similar incident transpired in the 2014 Monaco GP. Nico Rosenberg went down the Mirabeau escape road, which ruined the final laps of his teammate Lewis Hamilton. However, Nico got through the investigation without sanction. Elsewhere, Max Verstappen suggested that penalties should be handed to the drivers that cause red flags. Last week, the Dutchman failed to secure the pole position due to an accident for the second year in a row.
F1 Conducted An Informal Investigation Against Alonso
There was no official documentation about the inquiry against Alonso’s conduct. However, the Spanish driver and Alpine’s sporting director Alan Permane were seen leaving Baku’s race control on Sunday. Moreover, team principal Otmar Szfnauer also visited the race control. Hence, the FIA stewards conducted an informal investigation regarding Alonso’s stoppage. While the stewards chose to take no action, the incident triggered discussions about a possible solution. As per Appendix L of FIA’s International Sporting Code, drivers must use the racing track at all times. They are not allowed to leave the track without a justifiable reason.
Moreover, the stewards have the authority to delete any or all lap times if drivers commit an offense. Therefore, F1 stewards and the race director could warn the drivers about potential sanctions ahead of the Candian GP in the event notes or the Friday briefing. In addition, Alonso also supported the proposal about handing penalties for deliberate stoppages during qualifying.
The Spaniard pointed out that the FIA needs to be very careful while handling penalties. Fernando mentioned Kevin Magnussen’s incident when the Haas driver parked in Turn 15. Alonso said that Magnussen could have either parked there or ten meters ahead, leading to a safety car. However, the Alpine driver added, “And then we will penalize the Haas driver because he chose the wrong thing?”
Thus, Alonso said FIA needed to be careful with penalties and supported the proposal, especially during qualifying. Moreover, Fernando suggested that F1 should introduce another format in qualifying. He felt F1 needs to counter slow laps, minimum time to respect, traffic in last corners, tows, and no tows. Other drivers like Daniel Ricciardo, Lando Norris, and Esteban Ocon also supported the newly introduced prospect by the FIA.