FIA race director Niels Wittich has announced the reintroduction of a maximum time limit for all F1 qualifying laps in preparation for the Japanese GP. Drivers slowed down in the final sector to achieve a clean lap, raising the risk of collisions with stationary cars, which led to the implementation of this measure during the Italian GP. Discover FIA reintroduces F1 qualifying rule ahead of Japanese GP.
In response to incidents during practice sessions, Wittich has decided to apply this rule to every single lap in qualifying, departing from the usual practice of only regulating in-laps at Grand Prix events. However, during the Singapore GP, race officials briefly lifted the ‘all laps’ rule, permitting drivers to slow down on their out-laps. This decision resulted in a near-miss situation in Q1, with nearly half the field closely packed together. Max Verstappen came under scrutiny for impeding Logan Sargeant but was ultimately cleared of the charge.
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In his customary pre-event communication to teams and drivers, Wittich confirmed the reinstatement of the ‘all laps’ rule at Suzuka. He stressed that, unless the stewards recognize exceptional circumstances, they may consider any driver who exceeds the maximum time between the second Safety Car line and the first Safety Car line on ANY lap during or after the qualifying session, including in-laps and out-laps, as driving unnecessarily slowly.
Wittich to Confirm Suzuka Qualifying Lap-Time Regulation
It’s important to note that a driver will not automatically receive a penalty; they have the opportunity to provide compelling and acceptable evidence explaining why they did not meet the minimum time requirement. This occurred with Carlos Sainz and Charles Leclerc at Monza, where race officials determined that they had deviated from their racing line to allow faster cars to pass without impeding them, resulting in them exceeding the imposed time limit.
Following the second practice session on Friday, Wittich will communicate the specific lap-time regulation that will be in effect for Saturday’s qualifying session at Suzuka.