September 24, 2021

F1 needs safer solution for Monza qualifying, say team bosses

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With the tow so valuable around the home of the Italian Grand Prix, qualifying sessions have always been fraught as drivers battle to get in a good place for a slipstream from the car ahead of them.

During Friday evening’s qualifying session for the sprint there were several flash points of trouble, both out of the track and in the pitlane.

Max Verstappen was one of those who had to abort a flying lap after coming across a bunch of slow cars out on track who were on preparation laps.

And then at the end of Q2 there were chaotic scenes in the pitlane as the majority of cars left at the same time – with Sebastian Vettel and Lewis Hamilton nearly colliding in the fast lane.

As a result of the pitlane chaos, the Aston Martin and Alpine teams were fined 5000 Euros each for the unsafe release of their cars.

Aston Martin team boss Otmar Szafnauer told Motorsport.com that he felt F1 needed to find a way to stop the Monza shenanigans happening in the future.

“We’ve got to look at that to make sure we curtail it before something happens,” he said.

“A lot of people were involved. It’s because the value of a tow is so high around here, that people try those types of things. We’ve got to think about how to do that better.”

Red Bull team boss Christian Horner concurred that the unique characteristics of Monza meant that F1 needed to think up a better approach.

“The tow is so very valuable,” he told Sky. “I think Max got caught up on the first run by being out of sync. There was a whole bunch of cars all over the place and the closing speeds are so massive here.

“It’s very difficult unless you send them out one by one for individual qualifying, and it’s all part of it trying to get that bit of track position.

“But it does need to be safe. And, of course, the pitlane is getting a little bit nuts as well. Thankfully there were no incidents today, but it’s something we should definitely have a good look at.”

Horner also felt that teams could do a better job in informing their drivers of fast-approaching cars.

“You’ve got some big closing speeds. And of course the teams tell them [the drivers] who is on a fast lap. Sometimes you feel that perhaps communication could be better, but it’s one of the nuances of racing in Monza I’m afraid.”

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