Carlos Sainz calls for radical solution to qualifying debacle

Carlos Sainz believes his ‘ghost car’ idea would help prevent drivers from backing into others in congested circuits.

Carlos Sainz has drawn attention to the issue of F1 traffic congestion and the consequential blocking or rear-ending it might cause.

He was recently dropped three grid positions during the Canadian Grand Prix, with the FIA finding him guilty of blocking Alpine’s Pierre Gasly.

Gasly even went as far as to say that the Spanish racer should have been banned for this “dangerous” piece of driving.

However, Sainz is not the first to have flagged traffic issues as a growing concern in F1 over recent years.

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It is normal for drivers to slow down at the end of a lap, trying to find space for their runs – which can result in them backing into cars that are finishing flying laps at far greater speeds.

This congestion issue may be evident at this weekend’s Austrian Grand Prix, which is infamous for its short track layout – with the 4-kilometre Red Bull Ring designed for Sprint racing.

The problem will be most evident in Q1 where cars arrive at Turn 9 blind to what’s in front of them over the brow of a hill.

The Ferrari driver offers what he believes is an elegant solution, borrowing from the format of F2 at Monaco, where cars are split into two groups for the end of the running.

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Sainz says: “The short-term solution would be to have Q1 as a split, 10 cars, one from each team per qualifying group.

“Then I think Q2 would improve quite a bit and Q3 is not a problem, so it would be only short tracks.

“In Q1, maybe divide each session by half with eight minutes for one group, eight minutes with another group.”

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Sainz’s fellow Spaniard Fernando Alonso floated a different idea to solve the same problem.

The Aston Martin driver said that F1 should reintroduce a one-shot qualifying format, allowing drivers to hit the track one by one to complete a single flying lap.

Sainz agrees with Alonso on this prospect, saying: “The long-term solution is maybe single-lap qualifying, that is something to maybe experiment with in Sprint weekends to try and see if it would work.”