The FIA have announced yet another tweak to the process of deciding the grid for each race. The change comes about after the dangerous scenario that presented itself in Malaysia last weekend when Nick Heidfeld and Fernando Alonso found themselves on hot laps while the other surrounding cars were cruising slowly back to the pitlane. The primary reason for the 200km/h speed difference between the cars is because of the race-fuel issue: Cars entering the third phase of qualifying must carry the fuel they intend to qualify and race with. Thus, once the hot lap has been completed, the drivers then try to save as much as possible to further their first stint in the race.
To counter this, the FIA have made changes that will likely come into force for next weekend’s Bahrain Grand Prix. The change to the rules centres around a proposed maximum lap time for cars on slow-down laps, likely to be 120% of their fastest lap set thus far in the session.
The matter is under discussion and our clarification to the teams and drivers will be that cars returning to the pits having completed their flying lap or laps will be required to do so within a time that we will set.
This could be approximately 120% of the ‘normal’ time as we do to prevent drivers going very slowly to the grid to save fuel. FIA Spokesperson.
My personal opinion is that the FIA are adding further complexity to the rules when what they should be doing is simplifying the rules. For sure Formula One is naturally complex and challenging, but I fail to see how adding rule upon rule is going to help when the original rule is the cause of the problem. To put it another way, remove race-fuel and let the drivers go into qualifying with few limitations to see who really is the fastest without fear of strategic penalty in the race.