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Changes needed to qualifying format to avoid a repeat of Monaco controversy
Posted By: James Allen  |  28 May 2014   |  11:38 am GMT  |  522 comments

Whether you believe that Nico Rosberg deliberately made a mistake to prevent Mercedes team mate Lewis Hamilton from taking pole position, there is no doubt that it is unfair for a driver who is behind on the road, to lose a last minute chance to take pole through someone else’s actions.

So what can be done to prevent this happening again?

The same thing happened in Monaco in 2006, for which Michael Schumacher was moved to the back of the grid. However in Rosberg’s case the Stewards could find no absolute proof that he had done it deliberately, so took no further action.

“It is a big decision to make when you are deciding to move a driver to the back of the grid, FIA steward Derek Warwick told the Daily Mail. “It was doubly important to get it right because it could affect many things — probably the outcome of the race and possibly of the world championship.

“We had all Mercedes’ data, including Lewis’s data to overlay on Nico’s. We had the FIA data. We had onboard shots, overhead shots, circuit shots. We had throttle traces, braking traces, everything we needed to make, hopefully, the right decision.”

The stewards found that both men had braked 8m later for St Devote on that lap than the previous one, so were clearly pushing harder. Rosberg turned in too tight to the left hander at the entry of Casino Square, which pushed him off line on the exit and he knew at that point that he had lost time.

But the Stewards’ decision didn’t give Hamilton a chance to make up for the opportunity he had lost.

FIA Race Director Charlie Whiting has suggested that perhaps one solution could be adding some extra time onto the end of qualifying, to allow the drivers who were blocked to have another go. This would work, but they probably would not have any new tyres left at that late stage of the qualifying session.

Another suggestion, from some of the engineers working in F1, is to delete the fastest time of the driver who causes the problem. This would act as a powerful incentive not to deliberately cause a hazard. Monaco is a particular problem, but this could happen anywhere so it is something that needs addressing. This is a harsher sanction and drivers would feel they were walking a tight-rope, as mistakes could have serious consequences.

This is one of those situations where the sporting element of F1 needs protecting and certainly a better solution needs to be found than the one we have at present.

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Tornillo Amarillo

I told it, add extra time, put new tires and do 2 more laps, what’s the freaking problem? You can also investigate and punish the driver offender.

That would add action to Q3, you can always add 3 minutes for the TV show for Q3 without extending the overall time allowed.


How about using qualifying composite times so the best sector times for each driver thus eliminating the effect of yellow flags making them purely a safety thing in terms of their effect on the time sheets, its just a thought but surely f1 has the technology to add 3 times together


Top ten shoot out, works in Aussie V8 Supercars when used. Each driver in Q3 has1 chance to get pole, order is set in Q2 for shoot out – reverse top 10 order from Q2. Has cars on track for entire session, no more blame games just the car, the driver and the track.


I don’t think qualifying should be changed as a knee jerk reaction to this one incident, the old single lap format prevented this kind of thing, but that last second dash for pole by multiple drivers was also lost.

I know what I think about Nico’s incident but only he knows what really happened, to me the violent left/right movement of the wheel didn’t seem to match up with the off board footage of the car, with that much opposite lock applied I would expect to see the car visibly “snaking” but it seemed to be pretty much travelling in a straight line, he was also in a major hurry to get it in reverse which struck me as a bit odd. Like I said, only Nico knows for sure. I thought it interesting that the only defence to the many suspicious people in F1 is “Nico wouldn’t do that” Brundle said in the pre race show that he thought the wheel waggling looked suspicious but he just didn’t think that Nico had it in him, Derek Warwick has been quoted as saying that Rosberg is “the most honest driver in F1”, but the fact is that Nico has never fought for a championship before, the stakes have never been this high for him, people are capable of behaviour under that kind of pressure that they would never normally exhibit. I also think it interesting to see the amount of criticism that Lewis has received in all of this, I know there are plenty of people out there who never miss an opportunity for a bit of Hamilton bashing, but it seems he has had more stick than Nico! I guess Lewis could have reacted better but “F1 driver lacks sense of perspective” is hardly a headline worthy of the front page, can you imagine how much abuse Lewis would have got if he had gone off and wrecked Nico’s chances of pole?!


Space out the cars well and give each driver 3 flying laps in the Top ten shoot out if they want the 3 laps, and add reasonable time to the 10 Minutes if need be especially in tight places like Monaco.

The order at which they come out can be decided by how they ended in Q.2, with the fastest getting the simple choice of going first or last.


I would let them have 5 or 6 mins of normal Q3. then have them all pulled back into the pits. Then send them out of the pits in reverse time order (current pole sitter time last out). This last bit is not time limited and finishes when the last car has finished his one hot lap. No overtaking is allowed on out lap, but due to no cut off time drivers can allow the gap they need.

Some method of getting the cars out in the right order would be the hardest to manufacture. could just have them lined up in pit lane 1 min before.


Looks like we need to go back to one-at-a-time single lap qualifying. Except that isn’t “fair” either…


no changes are required. There are a lot of “unfair” things. The biggest unfair thing is when a driver pulls a significant gap throughout a race and then it gets wiped out by an SC. Even where the SC comes out onto the track can be hugely unfair to certain drivers (Valencia 2011, iirc, comes to mind – with Fernando feeling severely penalized by it).

No one goes on about needing to something about SCs.

Or how about Kimi’s spin at T3 of Australia this year in Q2? It impacted both Jenson’s and Vettel’s last flying lap, where one or both were on pace to make it into Q3.

Not a lot of whinging about that, calling for a change of format.

Then there’s the issues of the tires, and if a lap is impacted at the end, after the best of the tire has been used, then what?

Major changes in rules should not be implemented just for situations that rarely happen. How often has this type of situation happen? 2006 with Schumacher being the last one? That’s 8 years ago.

So Lewis’s flying lap gets scuppered and we are all in a tizzy. If it wasn’t Rosberg’s mistake, let’s say it was RIC that did it, to no benefit for himself or a teammate, would we be talking about this now?


last time someone died on track was 20 years ago, that doesn’t mean safety shouldn’t be improved whenever unsafe features are discovered.


100% agreed. The idea that the rules must change because of one suspected unfair occurrance is the worst kind of knee-jerk nonsense, mostly put forward by British journos who run the risk of appearing to be aggrieved merely because a British driver has lost a shot at pole and lost the lead of the WDC.

The only thing I would change is Whiting. I’d remove him and replace him with Eduardo Freitas, who would hopefully be capable of reading, understanding and enforcing Article 20.2 SR, where it says you can’t intentionally leave the track without justifiable reason, full-stop. It doesn’t matter if you gain an advantage or not. In an environment where that rule is enforced, it will always be incredibly difficult to pull the kind of trick Rosberg’s been accused of, because you have to disguise it as a mistake.

And if you are quicker than your main rival and you don’t want him to be able to profit from a mistake, of either the genuine or deliberate variety, on his second Q3 run, all you have to do is be quicker than him on the first run.


rosberg is still ok. he didn’t see why he shouldn’t celebrate after all he did nothing wrong in his eyes. if he plans to cheat his way through the championship, i can’t see how he could pull it off. the next 4 race will explain what i mean.


I used to think Rosberg was ok. Never supported him, but never disliked him either. All that changed after his celebration of pole in Monaco. He may well have kept it anyway but the reality is we will never know. If it were me and I maintained pole because of my mistake I would sheepishly celebrate and apologise to all the guys I screwed over. Not jump up and down like a tool. Hope when he next gets pole someone just crashes him out of the race on the first corner then jumps up and down celebrating in his face. What a douche bag….


This whole episode is being massively overblown. This sort of thing happens all the time, especially at Monaco. Any driver who gets two clear laps in a session can consider himself very fortunate. You’re usually luckly if you get one clear lap. Hamilton got a clear lap and had yellows on the second run, which is wholly unremarkable and not particularly unlucky. Rosberg was able to benefit from his mistake not merely because he was running ahead on the road (which, by the way, is usually regarded as a disadvantage) but also because his lap on the first run was better than Hamilton’s. Being at Mondaco, both drivers would have known there was every chance they could encounter traffic, yellow flags or even red flags at any time and so every lap matters as there’s no way of knowing if you will get another one. They were both trying on the first run and Nico was better.


i suspect it’s all staged, with hamilton pretending to be upset and then revealing he isn’t upset. they got the whole world talking and thinking about them for a fortnight.


I think the driver that causes it should receive a penalty lose the last fastest time). If that was a rule already, Hamilton would have pole and that would be fair.

What I did not see anyone taking into consideration, is that Rosberg could not have “simulated” the error, but forced beyond the limit, knowing that an error would not finish his race, but would bring yellow. That is what I think he did… a legitimate forced lap, and an legitimate error! There is nothing in the rules to prevent a driver of doing it. So, for him would be:

1) pole or

2) yellow = pole too.

So, imho we need to add responsibility for drivers pushing beyond limits in situations he will not damage the car, but end other drivers chance to compete.

In the end, does not matter if someone Killed other by purpose or not, it’s a crime either way.


why can warwick and his team just publish all the data and footage and telemetry which helped them to their conclusion and shut up all those who claimed that rosberg did it on purpose?

this will make f1 so much more interesting!

Mike from Colombia

Just read Derick Warwick’s interview and have to say that some of his comments are not appropriate.

Every case must be tried on its merits only. To come out and say that Rosberg is the most honest driver out there shows a preparedness or predisposition to ignore the facts or mould them to fit with his willingness to accepts Rosberg’s version of events.

He should have just said…Keke is my mate and we raced togerher in the 80s. Not worth upsetting Keke or Mercedes just to get justice for Hamilton.

Lost my respect for Warwick. My comment will probably also not get published.


You know to me, this whole thing is really simple.

If you go back to 2000, when Hakkinen finally lost the world title to Michael Schumacher, after everything that went on Hakkinen managed to say:

“Sometimes it is someone else’s turn to win.”

Schumacher of course has had a very ‘aggressive’ history, even with Hakkinen. But to be a good winner, it’s important to be also a good loser.

When Hakkinen said that, he wasn’t being a push over… he was being classy.

I wish Hamilton was more congratulatory at Monaco – regardless of what he personally thinks of what happened. Then he can mount his counter-attack at Canada.

That’s being classy.


Congratulating Nico would have been a fake / robotic / PR-targeted move by HAM.

I love the few heroes we have who are just genuine with their emotions.

We have enough fakeness all around us.


No congratulations on SUNDAY would be just to acknowledge the fact that regardless of how you won pole you still have to pull it off on SUNDAY.

Yes, I’m aware Monaco is “impossible” to overtake on, but we’ve seen enough people win it from P2 to know Sunday wasn’t a foregone conclusion.

Lewis should have congratulated Nico for the Sunday.


Why can’t they just pause the timer for qualifying? Same as with red flag conditions except the cars are still moving


I do not understand why so many contributors are saying that LH should have done a banker lap earlier. I thought he did but his lap was not as fast as NR, so had to attempt another lap. Did LH coast/sandbag on his first run? If qualifying is for 12 minutes, surely they cannot just do their qualifying lap in the first five minutes then sit back. All drivers are entitled to use the whole allocated time and they do to maximise their chances of pole position


ask rosberg and he’ll tell you that if that was the case he wouldn’t have parked his car with intent.


hello james please answer this question, do you know why the sound was turned off at the post qualifying interview? I mean those who attended the race couldn’t hear the interview but the sound was turned on again for the formula renault race.


No idea. A mistake almost certainly. You are talking about on site in Monaco, right?


yes james, on site at monaco. the sound was turned off after quali so no one heard what the three drivers were asked or had to say.


Why not just go back to an hours quali with three sets of tyres for every driver, if you dont go out and set a time in the first twenty minutes you lose a set, same for the second twenty minutes, if you wait to the end youve got one run and oneset of tyres?


the solution (if not already mentioned):

Make a *Monaco Q3 Special* format, where the 10 drivers are allowed 1 hot lap (just like the one lap qualifying format). The rest of the 9 cars are in the pit, or either on outlap or in lap. So basically 7 cars in pit and 3 on track.

If they can extend the Monaco Q3 format, give the top 10 two hot laps. So repeat the cycle. Instead of 15 minutes, maybe 25 minutes.

But only for Monaco, since a car going off can impede others. Q1 and Q2 remain the same.

Me thinks that this will become a favorite: the Monaco Q3 Special. Sounds a bit like a cocktail.

This format also makes sense since qualifying in Monaco is more than 70% of race outcome.. so to say. So it deserves a bit more show time.

Bernie would agree! Just because its Monaco and therefore special.


Had this affected anyone else, no one would be batting an eyelid. The solution to this problem is simply putting in a banker lap earlier. Something Lewis actually did and thus he started 2nd. There is no real story beyond that. In the entire history of F1 we’ve seen people lose out to yellow flags, weather, etc and with topsy turvy grids we’ve had some of the best races of all time.

I think inventing rules right now undermines the stewards. They say Rosberg is innocent, so he is. If we lose trust in them, then we are doomed.

There is no real solution. If we penalise the guy who causes the yellow like they do in Indy, we will never see them pushing 100% for fear of a grid penalty. The only penalty really is a 1 place penalty but then someone in 1st about to lose their spot is going to start anyway.

So we look at 2 place penalties and suddenly a super quick Merc starts behind a Red Bull. All because a guy made a mistake.

As for lengthening the session as suggested by Charlie Whiting, are we going to give the team enough time to get their guy in, fuel him and send him out? You’d have to think closer to 3 minutes extension rather than 1 minute at a circuit like Spa. Even then if someone is in sector 1 and a yellow flag is shown, they have to limp back to the pits and then do an out lap. Suddenly we’re up to almost 4 minutes of extra time. That will throw all TV schedules out of sync.

The best solution is the one we currently have. The one we’ve had forever. Leave it to the stewards to decide and IF someone is found guilty, send them to the back of the grid, a suspended 2 race ban and give them 10 points on their license. They will soon clean up their act.


did the stewards say he was innocent ?

or did they say there was no proof of guilt , not the same thing

unfortunately they don’t have the availability of the scottish …not proven


No proof of guilt = innocent in this situation, surely?


Exactly. You are either innocent or guilty. There is no middle ground of maybe in F1 or indeed the law. F1 is made up of some of the smartest engineers in the world backed up by millions of pounds all trying to find microscopic amounts of time. All of them would try almost anything to get more time out of the car. So are we led to believe the element of human emotion and error can be found anywhere on the stewarding panel?

No, it is all telemetry, overlays, camera angles and stuff that all media guys James included would love to see. I am not saying the stewards always get it right, the inconsistency of punishments for similar incidents is hard to fathom at times but almost always they can tell if a driver has acted deliberately or not.


I love and support my Brits drivers but, this is ridiculous. Because it happened to Hammy we have to change the rules, even DC is saying we should add two pitboxes per team. I am a little embarrassed on how our British media has massive double standards.


he is the biggest star in the sport.


Everything has been said pretty much. For me there is no need to change the qualifying format yet again. My favorite is still the 80’s format of 12 laps with all involve, the present format being my second choice. As many said, things happen and sometime you get lucky, at other time you don’t.

Now of course if a driver does make a mistake purposely, and it can be shown beyond doubts, then the punishment should be exemplary. I would go for X number of race ban. I understand it might be difficult to prove with certainty but I would tend to trust the stewards to know better.

F1 and other motor sports have to evolve has it is very much geared toward technologies, but basic rules should remain. Since I started following F1 as an example, the point system as changed 4 times that I can remember. 9 points for the winner but only so many (I am forgetful.) races are counted in the tally (Prost as a fan of his losing to Senna being one of my big disappointment in 88 because of the system then in place.), then all races count, then 10 points to the winner, then 25 for first place and now, one race is worth more then all, to my dismay I must add. What other sport changes the way F1 does all the time? The one change I think that made sense is that all races count, after that I am not sure it brought much to the sport we enjoy.

I see many, Mr. Allen included, like the shoot out type qualifications. If it is such a good format, why was it abandoned? It might be easier to follow I would agree but it is not F1. As frustrating as it might be when someone spoils the run of another driver, it is part of F1 and over time it probably evens the unfairness of the system.

Because it happens as well during the race, should F1 start following the WRC format? I know I am being extreme but why not?

Too much is being made of what happened last Saturday, If Rosberg did it consciously, it will comeback to him one way or the other, as I believe in Karma. But please, to the power that may be, pick a format and stick to it. The cream will always rise to the top.

Another thing Mr. Allen. Although, I do not comment all that often, I have enjoy this site since 2009. It is easily the best I have come across and I thank you and your team for that, but I feel the quality of the comments is deteriorating somewhat. The mods are doing very well to keep it clean, and they should be commanded for it but yet the it is becoming a bit more of “my favorite driver is the best and the others are idiots and so forth”. Don’t mean to be too critical as it is still by far the more civilized one of its kind but still. I guess that the price of its/your success. Marc


good post cometef1, but there are only two issues I’d like to raise if you don’t mind, racing is a competition to find out who is the best and secondly there is no karma in the f1 rules.


The current qualifying format is great but maybe a tweak could make it better. My concern is that in Q3, if you are the driver with the current fastest time, and you think someone is going to beat your time, you have an incentive to prevent that from happening by fair means (new fastest time) or foul. It would be good to make a change to remove the incentive for a driver to `go foul’. I agree with the concern that added time to Q3 could be negated by worn tires. Deleting the time of the driver who makes a `mistake’ in Q3 seems harsh. Maybe a penalty of two or three tenths could be added to the times of both drivers from a team that cause a yellow flag or other Q3 interruption? With this arrangement you’d also cover the risk of the # 2 driver `going foul’ to advantage his teammate #1 driver?


rosberg said he made a mistake and exaggerated it.


was a bit doubtful but he really does say that right at the end, hardly counts as an admission of guilt I suppose, but it is interesting…


This stunt by Rosberg is just a more sophisticated exercise in the Schumacher vein. He pre-planned it, had it in the back pocket ready to use when required. OK here’s what changes I recommend to the FIA do to the regulations. Anyone causing a yellow flag gets his fastest time deleted automatically for not taking adequate care. The driver would after all would have messed up qualifying laps for a number of drivers. If it is proven that it has been done deliberately then the driver is disqualified and removed to the back of the grid. I actually think that’s fair.


how many offences are qualified by the word “deliberately”?

does it matter if it was done deliberately or not?

if you were caught driving while accidentally exceeding the drink limit, do you expect to be let off because you didn’t do it on purpose?

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