FIA moves to avoid F1 traffic chaos at Monza

The FIA has taken extra steps to avoid traffic chaos in qualifying for Formula 1's Italian Grand Prix by expanding the use of minimum lap times.

Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes F1 W14, Charles Leclerc, Ferrari SF-23

F1 qualifying, and that of its junior formulae F2 and F3, has often been derailed by drivers backing up at the end of out-laps to find clear air for their push laps.

That has caused major bottlenecks ahead of the final corner at most races, particularly at the recent Austrian and Belgian grands prix.

In Monza's Friday F3 qualifying, traffic congestion caused a collision, with the session red-flagged after contact between Rodin Carlin driver Ido Cohen and team-mate Ollie Gray as the field bunched up in traffic.

The FIA regularly clamps down on drivers driving too slowly on in-laps, imposing minimum times between the second and first safety car line, which covers the entire circuit apart from the pitlane area.

But at Monza it has now expanded that rule to apply to any laps, crucially including out-laps, to avoid traffic woes getting out of hand.

In an addendum to FIA race director Niels Wittich's event notes published on Saturday morning, he wrote the following:

"4.2 For the safe and orderly conduct of the Event, other than in exceptional circumstances accepted as such by the Stewards, any driver that exceeds 1min 41sec from the Second Safety Car Line to the First Safety Car Line on ANY lap during and after the end of the qualifying session, including in-laps and out-laps, may be deemed to be going unnecessarily slowly.

Lando Norris, McLaren MCL60, Fernando Alonso, Aston Martin AMR23, Pierre Gasly, Alpine A523

Lando Norris, McLaren MCL60, Fernando Alonso, Aston Martin AMR23, Pierre Gasly, Alpine A523

Photo by: Simon Galloway / Motorsport Images

"For the avoidance of doubt, this does not supersede Art. 33.4 and Art. 37.5 of the FIA Formula One Sporting Regulations, which apply to the entire Circuit. Incidents will normally be investigated after the qualifying session."

Traffic issues are compounded by Monza's high-speed layout, which forces drivers to find a tow from the car ahead to boost straight-line speeds. That also means that drivers are reluctant to be the first car in the queue, further encouraging the practice of backing each other up.

In qualifying for the 2019 edition, drivers backing off at the end of Q3 led to a whole train of cars not making in across the line for their final qualifying attempt before the timer had run out.

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