Horner says F1 is getting in the way of a “sticky plaster” solution to a real problem
Preparations for the Brazilian Grand Prix have been clouded by controversy over a new pit lane departure rule aimed at preventing drivers from obstructing each other in qualifying.
But the solution introduced at Interlagos was described as “terrible” by world champion Max Verstappen, and opened the door to a number of grid penalties as drivers were affected by the new requirements.
While the FIA continues to improve ways to avoid drivers tripping over each other in qualifying and risking serious collisions, with the solution used in Brazil for this circuit design, Horner believes the focus is in the wrong area.
He believes a deeper investigation needs to be done to better understand why drivers have to carefully manage their speed on the outside laps, which ultimately leads to traffic problems.
“We’re making it very complicated,” said Horner, who saw Verstappen making his way past other cars in the pit lane as a result of the new systems.
“There’s a rule for driving out of the garage, driving in the parking lane, driving out of the parking lane. You have to rely on the basics: Why do drivers need to do these outside laps and so on? Go to the root cause.”
The issue of slow laps ultimately comes down to drivers aiming to place their tires in the appropriate operating window for qualifying laps.
Photography: Mark Sutton/Motorsport Images
Fernando Alonso, Aston Martin AMR23, Lance Stroll, Aston Martin AMR23, Zhu Guanyu, Alfa Romeo C43, in the pit lane
Horner felt it was important to understand the key elements at risk, so that they could be addressed to come up with a solution that would solve the traffic problem.
“Is it tire pressure? Is it tire temperature?” Asked. “We need to go to the root cause of the problem, because it’s something that didn’t exist in Formula 1 50 years ago. So why is it a problem now?
“I think for me it’s more about looking at the root cause rather than sticky plasters that are constantly applied.”
Horner said that in an engineering-led field like Formula 1, it was inevitable that teams would try to exploit any performance advantage that came from the tires – which is why preparation became so important.
“I think you have a lot of smart engineers who are always looking for an absolute advantage and tires are kind of a black art,” he said.
“There’s a certain mystique in being able to put the tire in the right window, and the tire is a big part of the car’s performance. You can see why a lot of effort goes into the preparation.