During the recent Mexican Grand Prix, Red Bull’s Max Verstappen and Mercedes’ George Russell narrowly escaped penalties after causing a pitlane exit bottleneck.
The incident resulted in a number of drivers, including McLaren’s Lando Norris, being held up as they prepared for their qualifying laps. The issue has reignited debate about the current pitlane rules and how they could be improved to improve both safety and fairness.
United in concern: Brundle and Stella call for action
Martin Brundle, a well-known commentator and former F1 driver, has backed McLaren team principal Andrea Stella’s call for an urgent review of the rules. Both Brundle and Stella insist that Formula One’s regulators must take immediate action to prevent similar disruption in the future.
Stella said: “I think immediate action needs to be taken. It’s not a good spectacle. It makes the operations very difficult because you send your car and you don’t really know when your car is going to get on the track,
“It puts all the drivers at the mercy of the other drivers. And for me that starts to be unfair,
“We have to create political and regulatory aspects to control the situation, which I think is just not appropriate,”
Brundle’s suggestions for change
Writing in his Sky Sports column, Brundle suggested one possible solution: “Perhaps [drivers] should be obliged to stop in the middle lane rather than the fast lane,
“However, he admitted that this solution had its own drawbacks, including potential congestion and the fact that not all circuits have the space for a middle pit lane,”
Brundle also highlighted the inherent unfairness for the teams at the end of the pit lane, stating, “It seems unfair to the teams at the end of the pit lane and the drivers who have to get out and get on with their qualifying lap preparation,
“For now, I think we need to explain that it’s an acceptable practice based on precedent, let the drivers and teams sort it out amongst themselves and look for a better solution,”
Lando Norris’ take on the issue
McLaren’s Lando Norris believes penalties should be introduced as a deterrent.
“Before you didn’t see too many bad scenarios, now you’ve seen some worse scenarios because people want the gaps to be even bigger. Everybody’s pushing the envelope more and more because you can get away with it,” Norris explained.
The pitlane incident at the Mexican Grand Prix has brought a long-standing issue back into the spotlight.
The near miss between Verstappen and Russell, and the resulting delay to other drivers, is seen by many in the paddock as evidence that the current policy is inadequate.
If leading voices such as Martin Brundle and Andrea Stella have their way, Formula One’s governing bodies will move quickly to implement rule changes that prioritise both safety and fairness in the sport. With drivers and teams pushing the boundaries more than ever, now may be the time for reform.
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