Formula 1: Miami crash reignites rule change discussion

Charles Leclerc, Ferrari, Miami, Formula 1 (Photo by Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images)
Charles Leclerc, Ferrari, Miami, Formula 1 (Photo by Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images) /

Formula 1 still hasn’t implemented any sort of way to penalize those who cause red flags in qualifying. A familiar face caused another one in Miami.

Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc brought an abrupt end to the third and final round of Formula 1 qualifying at Miami International Autodrome on Saturday afternoon, ahead of Sunday afternoon’s Miami Grand Prix, when he lost control of his SF-23.

There wasn’t enough time remaining to continue Q3, meaning that the qualifying session around the 19-turn, 3.363-mile (5.412-kilometer) temporary street circuit outside Hard Rock Stadium was complete.

Red Bull’s Sergio Perez took the pole position alongside Aston Martin’s Fernando Alonso in second place. Leclerc was scored in seventh when he crashed and retained that spot on the starting grid.

Formula 1 still doesn’t penalize drivers who cause red flags in qualifying.

Leclerc is no stranger to crashing in Q3 to end the session and retaining his position on the starting grid. He even did it in Monaco back in 2021, and that secured him the pole position (which he ultimately lost because the damage to the car prevented him from starting the race).

Saturday’s incident is just the latest in which the sometimes-overzealous driver has pushed himself and his car well over the limit and paid the price for it.

But is that price substantial enough, given how others effectively pay the price for it as well?

It’s time that any driver who causes a red flag in a Formula 1 qualifying session loses at least their fastest lap from that session. Quite frankly, it’s a bit embarrassing that nothing of this sort is already in place. It’s such a common sense change to enforce.

Otherwise, you can run into a scenario where there’s no actual penalty for bringing the session to a halt — and more often than not, an early end.

IndyCar utilizes a variation of this rule and it works. It’s not a foreign concept. Drivers who bring out a red flag lose their two best laps from that session and are unable to advance to the next round (if it doesn’t happen in the final round).

There should be repercussions for what, by and large, amounts to impeding the qualifying session of every other driver. While you can’t always guarantee everybody an extra lap, like we saw on Saturday with so little time remaining, you can drop the hammer on those who cost everybody that opportunity.

It is something that multiple individuals, including Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff, have called for in the past.

In this instance, Leclerc would have dropped from seventh place to 10th (last in Q3) on the starting grid. It may not seem like much, but it places him behind everybody else in the group and anybody he may have prevented from bettering their position. It’s the fair move to make.

Next. All-time Formula 1 wins list. dark

Every time a situation such as this one arises, the exact same discussion is had, yet nothing ever happens as a result of it. Will something ever be done, or has Formula 1’s focus on making changes to Saturdays completely shifted to the somewhat gimmicky sprint race format?