Does F1 need a rule to discourage deliberate crashes? Racing fans

As Charles Leclerc secured the all-important pole position in Monaco by raising red flags after hitting the barriers of the pool complex after running a bit wide entering the bend, shouts of “Schumacher 2006” rang out. in the media center. Other hacks recalled “Rosberg 2014 …”

The first incident of course referred to the parking maneuver alongside the Rascasse of the champion who set the record for the record, which deprived his great rival Fernando Alonso of an almost certain pole position. Until the stewards relegated the Ferrari driver to the rear after a marathon investigation into the “error”, which blocked the track, in turn preventing the Renault driver and the other rivals from completing their 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, the Mercedes suffered no damage – which heightened suspicion in the paddock – but Rosberg survived the stewards meeting unscathed.

Now compare these incidents with the Leclerc accident: not only did the Monegasque rip off the Ferrari’s front right wheel when he hit the barrier in the turn, but the rear wheel kick that followed sent enough shocks to through the transmission to the left hub to cause it to drop out. of his home grand prize on the reconnaissance lap.

Report: Leclerc qualifying crash not deliberate as ‘Rascassegate’ – Alonso

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 sank into the pits and the garage? For a deliberate accident, look no further than the damage inflicted on his Renault by the Nelson Piquet Jnr “Crashgate” incident, intentionally 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” lap and his previous effort, except that he was an inch or two further to the right. when entering the pool. It made all the difference, so expensive.

So the outcry after qualifying was not only totally wrong, but also raises the question: why change the rules to penalize a driver who is “on top” in the final stages of qualifying but crashes in the process? During his post-race debriefing, 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 look at it and, with all the key stakeholders, determine whether or not it’s appropriate. “

Alex Palou, Ganassi, IndyCar, Barber Motorsport Park, 2021
IndyCar ensures that drivers cannot benefit from deliberate collisions

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 must be refused, the car cannot continue in the segment and the car must not pass. to the next segment. . “

Under IndyCar rules, Leclerc (along with Schumacher and Rosberg) would have lost pole position for raising red flags, just like any driver who exceeds the limit on any circuit in any session of qualifying during what is the ultimate speed test of a grand prix weekend penalized by the abandonment of his two fastest laps.

Potentially all this upheaval because the unique circumstances of Monaco have generated three incidents in 15 years, only one of which was considered 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 provides them by chance. So crashes will happen when the drivers give it their all (and more), but surely that’s the essence of F1. Threaten a penalty and they’ll back out of caution, robbing fans of the spectacle of the pilots to the absolute limit as they demolish barriers.

As F1 has discovered too often with its instinctive rule changes, there are bound to be unintended consequences, which then point 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 an improvised rule change imported from another series.

Hopefully Masi and F1 find that the IndyCar regulations are “not suited” to F1 as a whole.

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