Martin Brundle believes that a solution must be found for the long queues in the pit lane during qualifying. This has already happened at a number of race weekends. If a few cars remain stationary in the pit lane for a long time, it is particularly unfair for the teams at the end of the pit lane who may not have time for their laps.
During qualifying for the 2023 Mexican Grand Prix, drivers could be seen parked at the end of the pit lane, holding everyone behind them as they created a suitable opening for their qualifying laps. In addition, other drivers held up their rivals outside the pit lane but in front of the crucial white-painted safety line. “To avoid the terrifying closing speeds when drivers are cruising before and after their qualifying laps while others are going full throttle, it was decided to create a maximum time between this line and the other safety car line just before the pit entrance,” says Brundle at Sky Sports.
“For the most part, this has worked well to avoid risky incidents on fast straights that could injure drivers, marshals and even fans,” the former Formula 1 driver continued. However, it does produce more situations that are under investigation after the sessions. ‘This means that the drivers are in control of the situation before that rule from the first white line is valid. As a result, many penalties for unsporting behavior were expected, but the FIA decided that the drivers had in fact succeeded well in spreading themselves around the track. And it’s better to be very slow in the pits than on the track.’
‘Maybe they should be required to stop in the middle’
Brundle also sees that this is a problem, and may know something to solve it. “In the pit lane, in theory, you can pass another stationary car, but perhaps they should be required to stop in the middle of the pit lane rather than in the fast lane,” the Briton suggests. ‘There are two problems, however. The cars would not be particularly well spread around the circuit, and some circuits, such as Monaco, do not have the space for an additional center section in the pit lane.”
Towards the end of the qualifying session, these queues are extra annoying for the teams at the back and therefore have to wait even longer. For example, they may no longer be able to set a qualifying round at all. “For now, we should probably explain that it is an acceptable practice based on precedent, let the drivers and teams work it out among themselves, and look for a better solution,” Brundle thinks.