Is a new 2024 F2/F3 qualifying rule a prelude of things to come for F1 in future?

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The lower-tier championship’s updated regulations for the 2024 season include one particular qualifying rule which may well be a prelude or a test of something to be introduced in F1 in the near future.

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The sporting regulations for the 2024 FIA Formula 2 and Formula 3 championships have been published, and with one key change to the qualifying sessions, which aims to punish drivers who are considered to be the “sole cause” of a red flag with the deletion of their fastest lap and disallowing them to take any further part in qualifying.

Article 33.5 of the 2024 FIA F2/F3 regulations states that “any driver who in the opinion of the Stewards is the sole cause of the issuance of a Red Flag during the qualifying practice session will not be permitted to take any further part in the session and their fastest lap time during the session may be deleted.”

IndyCar already has a very similar system in place – perhaps even harsher – as it deletes the driver’s two best laps of the ‘segment’ if it causes one red flag. With it reoccurring, the driver loses all his timed laps and is also prohibited from taking to the track again.

“If a car causes a red condition in any segment or otherwise interferes with qualifications as determined by INDYCAR, the car’s best two (2) timed laps of the segment shall be disallowed and the car shall not advance to the next segment,” state the rules.

“If a car causes two (2) red conditions in one (1) or more segments or otherwise interferes with qualifications as determined by INDYCAR, all segment times shall be voided and the car shall not be permitted to participate in the remainder of qualifying.”

The American series goes even further and punishes drivers who “interferes” with the qualifying attempts of other drivers. The rules state that “if a car interferes with the qualifications attempt of another car, as determined by INDYCAR:

“If the violation occurs during segment one or segment two, the car’s best two (2) timed laps during that segment shall be disallowed and the car shall not advance to the next segment.”

Whilst it is something that would also massively improve F1 and its support ladder if it were to be introduced, at least for 2024, that won’t happen.

However, the move to change the red flag rules is already a promising sign towards fairer, less-interrupted qualifying sessions.

Recently in Formula 1 we have seen a few examples of qualifying sessions being interrupted by one driver and that driver benefitting from it, as their rivals were unable to finish their flying laps. Sergio Perez’s strange spin at Portier during qualifying for the 2022 Monaco GP secured him a third place spot – from where he won the race the next day – instead of what would have been 10th if the new F2 rules were in force.

The same can be said about Max Verstappen at the penultimate round of the 2021 season. Despite him losing out as he failed to complete what would have been surely pole position and finishing down in third, he was the sole cause of a red flag and would lose his previous lap, leaving the Dutchman down in 10th place as well. This could have had massive championship implications, given the tight nature of his battle with Lewis Hamilton.