Japanese Grand Prix Brings Back F1 Qualifying Rule to Prevent Near-Miss Incidents

FIA Reactivates Maximum Lap Time Regulation for Japanese GP Qualifying Image
Source: The Race

Japanese Grand Prix Brings Back F1 Qualifying Rule to Prevent Near-Miss Incidents. As the Japanese Grand Prix approaches, F1 fans are gearing up for a change in the qualifying rules. 

In a bid to enhance safety and prevent near-miss incidents, the FIA has taken decisive action by reinstating the maximum lap time rule. 

This move comes after concerns regarding drivers’ maneuvers during qualifying sessions, which culminated in a dramatic near-miss involving Max Verstappen at the Singapore Grand Prix

In this article, we delve into the background, implications, and reactions surrounding the Japanese Grand Prix’s reintroduction of this crucial rule.

Japanese Grand Prix Brings Back F1 Qualifying Rule to Prevent Near-Miss Incidents

In anticipation of the Japanese Grand Prix, a significant change is on the horizon. 

The event is set to reintroduce the F1 qualifying rule aimed at preventing potentially catastrophic near-miss incidents. 

The move, spearheaded by FIA race director Niels Wittich, comes in response to past safety concerns. 

Notably, this regulation was last implemented during the Italian Grand Prix, after drivers’ actions in practice sessions raised alarms. 

In this article, we delve into the reasons behind this decision, the rule’s specifics, and its potential impact on the high-stakes world of Formula 1.

Background on the Qualifying Rule

The qualifying rule and background traces its origins to the Italian Grand Prix, where Formula 1 drivers’ behaviors in practice sessions raised concerns. 

They were found to be backing up at the final corner, creating risky situations. 

In response, Niels Wittich introduced a rule that imposed a maximum lap time for all qualifying laps. 

This measure aimed to prevent drivers from crawling around the track at a slow pace and obstructing others, particularly in the high-speed sport’s tightest moments.

Suspension of the Rule in Singapore

During the 2023 Singapore Grand Prix, a notable deviation occurred as the rule that had been enforced at the Italian Grand Prix was suspended. 

This suspension allowed drivers to slow down on their out-laps, creating a scenario where nearly half the field found themselves closely bunched together. 

Notably, this led to a near-miss incident involving Max Verstappen and Logan Sargeant, with Verstappen ultimately cleared of any wrongdoing. 

This unusual departure from the qualifying norm prompted questions about safety and fairness in the world of Formula 1.

Preemptive Action for Suzuka

Ahead of the highly anticipated Japanese Grand Prix at Suzuka, race director Niels Wittich took preemptive action to address safety concerns. 

Bucking the trend of waiting for practice sessions to unfold, Wittich decided to reintroduce the maximum lap time rule. 

His decision was rooted in the aim of ensuring the safe and orderly conduct of the event. 

Wittich’s proactive stance reflects the sport’s commitment to preventing potentially hazardous situations during qualifying sessions.

Rule Details and Penalties

The details of the maximum lap time rule are crucial to understanding its impact. 

This regulation applies to all laps during and after the qualifying session, including in-laps and out-laps. 

Exceeding the specified time between the second and first safety car lines is the trigger for potential penalties. 

However, it’s important to note that penalties are not automatic; drivers have the opportunity to present compelling evidence justifying their deviation from the rule. 

An example from the Monza race illustrates how drivers, like those from Ferrari, successfully argued that they went off the racing line to accommodate faster cars, thus exceeding the time limit.

Also Read: Alex Albon Set to Shake Up IMSA Rolex 24 with Acura – Rumor Breaks the Internet 

Max Verstappen’s Reaction

Red Bull’s Max Verstappen, following the reintroduction of the maximum lap time rule for the Japanese Grand Prix, expressed his thoughts on the matter. 

He maintained a relaxed stance, indifferent to Red Bull’s recent performance dip. 

Verstappen emphasized that the essence of competition lies in deserving victories, dismissing complaints about his dominance. 

In his view, true fans appreciate the unpredictable nature of Formula 1, irrespective of race outcomes.


In conclusion, as the Japanese Grand Prix approaches, the decision to reinstate the F1 qualifying rule aimed at preventing near-miss incidents underscores the ongoing commitment to safety in Formula 1. 

Stemming from concerns raised during practice sessions, this rule has already seen implementation at the Italian Grand Prix and its suspension at the Singapore Grand Prix. 

The proactive move by race director Niels Wittich for Suzuka reinforces the sport’s dedication to ensuring safe and orderly competition. 

Additionally, the rule’s details, including potential penalties, have been clarified, with drivers able to present justifications for any infractions. 

Max Verstappen’s nonchalant reaction highlights the ever-changing dynamics of Formula 1, where true fans embrace the unpredictability of each race, regardless of the outcome.

The Japanese Grand Prix promises excitement both on and off the track, as these rule changes add an intriguing dimension to the world of motorsport.

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