Drivers who create F1 qualifying red flags should be penalised

The subject has been debated for several years, but has been brought into focus in recent days by reports that Max Verstappen’s frustration with Sergio Perez in Brazil was the consequence of the Mexican’s crash in qualifying in Monaco, who triggered the red flag and ended the Dutchman’s chances of taking pole.

It has been suggested in the paddock that Verstappen believes Perez crashed deliberately.

Sainz, the next driver on the scene when Perez pitted, was left with a damaged car after hitting the Red Bull.

Asked by Autosport for his views on the incident, Sainz said: “Without commenting on whether it was on purpose or not, I think it’s real now that all drivers want some sort of rule that if a red flag or yellow flag is raised, whether it’s intentional or not, something should be done to that driver, because you purposely compromised the other nine, or maybe not.

“But you should get a penalty for that. If not, we’ll all start playing it. And I’ve seen a lot more play it in the last few years than you could have seen in the media.”

Pressed on the seriousness of the Monaco accident – as another car was actually damaged – Sainz continued: “I think all 20 drivers in ourselves, when we analyze this type of accident, we know immediately that anyone who did it on purpose or not, because we are not stupid.

“But I won’t comment, it’s an incident from the past. I’ll just say that if there was a rule then it wouldn’t even cross your mind.

Carlo Sainz, Ferrari

Photo by: Ferrari

“I think it would be [reward] Q3 laps, because it means that in Q3 there is a lot to win, but also something to lose.

“So you have to put together a good lap with no mistakes if you want to take a position.”

Asked if he thought drivers deliberately interrupting qualifying was a regular thing, he said: “Not regularly, but there have already been enough times that there should be some sort of rule for that.”

Sainz said the drivers have not spoken about potential penalties, but felt the time was right to bring them up in pre-race driver meetings.

“I think it’s still to be discussed. I think we’ve brought it up a couple of times, but it’s never resulted in anything. But I think for next year it should be done.

“I think either laps canceled though, or penalties of three or five places if you put a yellow or red flag in qualifying, which means the incentive to do so goes away immediately.

“And it also forces us riders to behave well and to commit ourselves up to the lap, but also with a level that perhaps leaves half a percentage point on the table”.

He added: “We haven’t talked about it much, I think since Monaco, since the last race something like this happened.

“I don’t know if some riders would talk about it or not in tomorrow’s meeting? Maybe I will, I’ll think about it”.

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