It’s understood amongst the drivers that they retain their places to make life easier as they each back off and try to make a gap before starting their qualifying laps.
However, this season there have been repeated instances of drivers passing rivals and in effect jumping the queue.
It became a particular issue at the Austrian GP when, after drivers were seen queuing at the last corner in practice, Masi stepped in and told them before qualifying that they couldn’t wait and create a gap at that point.
They were told instead to slow before they reached the penultimate corner. However, there were instances of drivers passing slowing cars, forcing others to back off further.
Michael Masi, Race Director, FIA
Photo by: Mark Sutton / Motorsport Images
Sebastian Vettel was particularly vocal on the matter after he was passed. He subsequently found himself with a penalty after blocking Fernando Alonso.
Some drivers have suggested that the FIA should police the matter, but Masi made it clear that any gentleman’s agreement is just that, and that it has no formal place within the sporting regulations.
He stressed that if the drivers have any issues they should sort it out amongst themselves.
“I hear about the gentleman’s agreement, because I see it in the media occasionally,” said the Australian.
“And that’s the gentleman’s agreement that they have between the 20 gentlemen that are on the circuit. So they may need to reconvene and reaffirm or revise their gentleman’s agreement between them!
“Let’s be fair, they’re all elite sportsmen. I think one of the parts that probably exactly has exacerbated it this year, is how tight the field is and the competitive order. And so all of those pressures come into it.”
McLaren’s Daniel Ricciardo agreed that drivers could sort it out themselves.
“I think at the end of day, like if someone’s been a bit cheeky and taken advantage of the situation that we’ve agreed, then that driver or those drivers should maybe just expect a bit of shit to come their way at some point,” he said.
“That’s the decision and the choice they make, so I’m happy for us to sort it out our own way.”