Max Verstappen Demands Removal of “Extremely Dangerous” Pit Lane Directive
In a recent turn of events, Formula 1 driver Max Verstappen has led the charge in urging authorities to reconsider or modify the “extremely dangerous” directive that was issued on Thursday. This directive, which forbids drivers from stopping in the pit lane, has sparked controversy and raised concerns about safety.
The controversy surrounding this directive stems from the FIA’s implementation of maximum lap time rules to alleviate traffic during qualifying sessions in recent races. As a result, drivers have resorted to stopping in the pit lane, prompting Race Director Niels Wittich to issue a new directive for the Brazilian Grand Prix weekend. This mandate aims to outlaw the creation of gaps in the fast lane of the pits.
According to Wittich’s instruction, drivers who wish to create a gap in the pit lane must remain as left as possible to ensure the smooth flow of other cars. However, this became problematic during the qualifying sessions at the Interlagos circuit, where the pit exit is both long and narrow. Several close calls occurred throughout the weekend, including reigning champion Max Verstappen himself running through the grass in an attempt to escape traffic during snapshot three (SQ3) on Saturday morning.
“It was absolutely terrible,” exclaimed Verstappen. “On this track, you have quite a long pit exit and there are some walls. But on some other tracks, if we implement this, you’re driving very slowly onto a straight where people are passing with 300+ km/h. And you’re maybe driving at 15, 20 to make a gap, which is extremely dangerous. For me, this doesn’t work at all. It just creates even more trouble.”
Verstappen strongly believes that the current directive only exacerbates an already chaotic situation. He pointed out the chaotic scenes that unfolded during qualifying, with drivers, including himself, veering onto the grass in an attempt to overtake slower cars. He criticized the frequent occurrence of incidents where six to eight drivers face penalties for driving too slow and failing to meet the minimum time requirements. Verstappen expressed his frustration, questioning the purpose behind these rules.
The pit lane congestion issue reached its peak during the Brazilian Grand Prix weekend. Three drivers were handed grid drops on Friday for impeding in the pit lane, while Lando Norris received a reprimand on Saturday due to violations of both the maximum lap time and pit lane rules. Norris, who finished as the Sprint runner-up, expressed his discontent with the situation.
“I got a reprimand this morning for two cars ahead of me coming out of the pit lane, or one crossing over the safety car line, and one coming out of the pit lane at the same time,” Norris shared. “I can’t overtake, otherwise I’m gonna be racing on a qualifying lap, which is stupid. So I have to back off, and therefore I’m below the minimum time, and I get a reprimand for that.”
Norris’s frustration stems from the fact that he followed the regulations precisely, yet still faced penalization. He argued against the existence of such rules, highlighting that they hinder fair competition and create unnecessary chaos during qualifying sessions. Furthermore, he suggested that if drivers are concerned about pit lane queuing, they should venture out earlier to avoid the congestion.
Verstappen and Norris both share the sentiment that the directive’s intentions may be noble, but its execution and consequences do not align with the desired outcomes. Verstappen mentioned the unfairness of a driver intentionally delaying the start of their qualifying lap, causing inconvenience for others on the track. Nonetheless, he emphasized that the increasing number of regulations only leads to more havoc for everyone involved.
As the situation intensifies and discussions regarding the pit lane directive gain traction, it remains to be seen whether the FIA will heed the calls of drivers like Verstappen and Norris. The quest for a fair and safe pit lane environment continues, with hopes that a pragmatic resolution will be reached in the near future.