IndyCar’s red flag qualifying rule should be adopted – #F1
Written by @email@example.com
Russell’s Friday qualifying blunder in Interlagos was not the first time someone benefitted from a mistake in Q3. Leclerc’s crash in Monaco didn’t gain him anything due to technical issues with the car that only appeared on race day, however it already sparked a large debate regarding what should be done with such scenarios. And speaking of Monaco, most, if not all remember 2014, which created quite the controversy between Hamilton and Rosberg, the latter of whom parked his car in a run-off area (having outbraked himself) and caused a yellow flag, earning pole position by doing so. It was hard to judge intent, but even at the time, many looked back to Michael Schumacher doing something very similar and earning a disqualification, having to start from the back of the grid. Now, obviously, disqualifying everyone who does something similar is a bit of an overreaction. However, I don’t believe that making a mistake should benefit a driver.
The question of intent
Upon discussing this rule, a lot of people bring up the fact that you can’t judge intent. But that’s not the purpose here. The purpose is to not let drivers benefit from their mistakes. Currently, if a driver makes a small mistake near the end of the session, they abandon their lap and pray that they don’t get beaten. If they make a big mistake and bring out a yellow and/or red flag, they keep their position on the grid. This is very much unfair to those who would still have the ability to improve on their times. Now yes, there’s 12 minutes in a Q3 session, but it’s that much so that they can comfortably do 2 laps. Because of all these, I’d argue that intent doesn’t actually matter, the rule isn’t about that at all, intentionally becoming an obstacle is just a rare instance that happens to be covered within its bounds. The main goal, again, is for “poor” driving to not actually be beneficial.
The question of risk
Another debate point I often see is that if such a rule would be introduced, drivers would not be pushing to the limits anymore, as it would become risky. I honestly don’t think that is true, that is something that would not change. Currently, if someone is in a decent position, they are pushing to get the most out of qualifying. And if they are far from anyone else, they can already just back down, meaning that this won’t change either. If they alter their behaviour, they could lose positions, and even now, they go all out despite the fact that they could actually crash.
The way IndyCar does it
8.3.4 If a Car causes a Red Condition in any segment, the Car’s best two (2) timed laps of the segment shall be disallowed, the Car may not continue in the segment, and the Car shall not advance to the next segment.
Meaning that if someone causes a red flag, their 2 fastest lap times get deleted. They also have to park their car, although this is kind of assumed in Formula 1, as drivers can only continue on their own power. On top of all this, they have a clause for yellow flags, and I strongly believe that since those have a similar impact to red flags near the end of qualifying, they should be treated in a similar manner. Would it be unfair? In some cases, yes. But it's highly likely that no one would ever lose more than 10 grid positions. If you're pushing for it in Q1, you're probably near the elimination zone already. Same goes for Q2. And in Q3, the most you can sacrifice is 9 places, even if you're on for pole.
Is a potential rule like this a bit harsh? Yes. But the way it stands right now, it's everyone else who gets penalized by 1 driver's mistake, and that definitely should not be the case..