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Formula 1 Brazilian GP

FIA’s new pitlane impeding stance won’t work, warns Magnussen

Kevin Magnussen thinks the FIA’s plan to eradicate pitlane impeding will not work, as it simply shifts the problem out on to the Formula 1 track.

Sergio Perez, Red Bull Racing RB19, leads Yuki Tsunoda, AlphaTauri AT04, Daniel Ricciardo, AlphaTauri AT04, Lando Norris, McLaren MCL60, Zhou Guanyu, Alfa Romeo C43, Lance Stroll, Aston Martin AMR23, Valtteri Bottas, Alfa Romeo C43, and others out of the pit lane

Ahead of the Brazilian Grand Prix, F1 race director Niels Wittich announced a change of stance regarding drivers trying to build-up gaps ahead of them in the pitlane in qualifying.

Following a spate of incidents where drivers have stopped at the end of the pitlane to help them get space ahead of them for their outlap, stacking up rivals behind them, such behaviour has now been outlawed.

For both main qualifying and the sprint shootout, F1 drivers are now not allowed to stop in the fast lane of the pits.

Furthermore, if they want to try to create a gap ahead of them, they must drive slowly on the way out of the pits and leave enough space for rivals to pass them on the right before the pitlane exit line ends.

But while Wittich’s plan has good intentions, Magnussen is very sceptical about it working as he thinks the new approach will instead trigger traffic jams inside the pit exit line, rather than in the pits.

With drivers having a maximum laptime imposed on them from safety car line 2, Magnussen reckons the new restrictions will result in a bottleneck right before that line.

Asked by Autosport about whether he thought the FIA’s new stance was right, Magnussen said: “Honestly, I tried to understand it this morning and I’m not sure I understand what we need to do.

“I think they say that if you want to go slow in the pitlane, you have to go in the slow lane - which means then they [other cars] can overtake you.

Kevin Magnussen, Haas F1 Team

Photo by: Andy Hone / Motorsport Images

Kevin Magnussen, Haas F1 Team

“It means you don't that, because you're not interested in anyone getting past. So, I'm not sure how you're going to make the gaps between pit exit to safety car line two.

“Whatever happened in the pitlane is just going to happen at the [SC2] line now.”

Magnussen explained that drivers needed to aim for a five-second buffer at SC2 to ensure they had enough clear air for a qualifying lap – and finding that could get incredibly complicated if other drivers jump into your gap.

“It's SC2 that defines your gap at the beginning of the lap, you need minimum five seconds at SC2 because otherwise you risk having a too small gap at the beginning of the lap,” he said.

“That gap has to happen someplace. So, there's going to be congestion, instead of in the pitlane, before SC2.”

The move to stamp out on impeding in the pits have been triggered by the new imposition of a maximum lap time for outlaps in qualifying – which was aimed at preventing dangerous traffic problems in the final corners as slow drivers prepared for their quick laps.

Magnussen says things have improved on that front, but notes there have been unintended consequences.

"I think at the end of the outlap, the [traffic] issue is much smaller,” he said. “You can say it's a little more predictable, because you know where you're going to be.

Kevin Magnussen, Haas VF-23

Photo by: Zak Mauger / Motorsport Images

Kevin Magnussen, Haas VF-23

“Once you exit past SC2 you know what your gap is going to be, unless someone overtakes you.

“If someone's just finishing a push lap, going into a slow lap, to then do another fast lap, and he comes past you, then that's an issue because then someone enters the gap you thought you had getting out of the pit, and you might be in trouble.

“That's when you often find yourself fighting someone for position on the outlap, which I've had happen twice since they introduced this rule.

“So, it's tricky. And honestly, quite a few guys now broke that limit, the [maximum] delta, so I don't know why anyone would be too worried about breaking it.

“Once they let someone break it and without a penalty then how are they going to penalise the next guy? So, I don't think it means very much.”

Travel nightmare

Magnussen was speaking after arriving in Brazil late on Thursday following travel issues that left him fearing he would not make the race weekend.

Having been left stranded in Mexico due to a ticketing problem, only an emergency route via Bogota ensured he made it in time for practice at Interlagos.

“I don't know what went wrong,” he said. “I got to the airport in Mexico and I didn't have a ticket.

Kevin Magnussen, Haas F1 Team

Photo by: Andy Hone / Motorsport Images

Kevin Magnussen, Haas F1 Team

“I had the itinerary, flight times and everything like normal, but I tried to check in and I wasn't on the flight. And then the flight was full.

“There were no other good connections here and I thought I might miss the whole weekend. Even private planes, first of all, they were stupidly expensive but also there were some landing restrictions that meant it takes days to get the permits. So, I thought this might be interesting…”

In the end, Magnussen managed to find a route.

“I had to fly back to Mexico City and to Bogota and then to here,” he said. “All in economy as well...It was fun.”

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