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Japanese Grand Prix 2023

FIA reintroduces F1 qualifying rule ahead of Japanese GP

Race director Niels Wittich has informed the teams of his decision.

Verstappen Singapore Russell
To news overview © Red Bull Content Pool

FIA race director Niels Wittich has reintroduced the maximum time limit for all Formula 1 qualifying laps ahead of the Japanese Grand Prix.

The measure was last used at the Italian GP as drivers were backing up in the final sector of the lap to try and achieve a 'clean' lap, with the danger of collisions with near stationary cars being hit by one at full-speed, high.

In response to the incidents in practice, Wittich decided to implement a rule that meant every single lap in qualifying would be subject to the rule, and not just in-laps as is normally the case at Grands Prix.

However, for the Singapore GP, the 'all laps' rule was dropped, meaning drivers could slow down on their out-laps, which created a near-miss in Q1 with nearly half the field bunched together - and Max Verstappen receiving a summons to see the stewards for impeding Logan Sargeant, a charge he was ultimately cleared of.

In his usual pre-event notes sent to teams and drivers, Wittich confirmed the reintroduction of the 'all laps' rule at Suzuka.

"For the safe and orderly conduct of the event, other than in exceptional circumstances accepted as such by the stewards, any driver that exceeds the maximum time 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," he wrote. Wittich confirmed in his event notes for drivers.

This does not mean a driver will be penalised automatically however, as should a driver be able to present overwhelming and acceptable evidence as to why they did not meet the minimum time, the stewards can opt to not issue a penalty.

This is what happened to Carlos Sainz and Charles Leclerc at Monza - where it was found that the two had gone off line to allow faster cars through unimpeded, hence exceeding the time imposed.

After the second practice session on Friday, Wittich will confirm to teams and drivers what the lap-time is that will be in force on Saturday at Suzuka.

F1 2023 Japanese Grand Prix RN365 News dossier

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