Wolff in favour of lap deletion rule for driver causing red flag

Mercedes boss Toto Wolff would favour a rule in F1 that would deprive a driver causing a red flag in qualifying of his fastest lap, a regulation that would end any speculation about whether a crash was deliberate.

Charles Leclerc snatched pole position for his home race on Saturday but the Ferrari driver brought the session to a premature end when he crashed at the Swimming Pool.

The incident triggered a red flag with less than a minute left on the clock in Q3, and prevented three drivers – Max Verstappen, Carlos Sainz and Valtteri Bottas – from challenging Leclerc’s pole.

Saturday’s circumstances revived memories of Michael Schumacher’s ‘mishap’ at Rascasse in 2006 that also deprived his rivals of a last minute shot at pole. But in that instance, the Ferrari driver’s suspicious move was punished with a grid drop to the back of the field on Sunday.

Wolff dismissed any ill-intent on the part of Leclerc given the extent of the damage suffered by the Ferrari driver’s car and the risk of losing pole if a gearbox change is confirmed.

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“Certainly it’s a good story that Charles is in pole in Monaco, it’s even better that Charles in on pole than Max,” Wolff said, quoted by The Race,  before rejecting any silly conspiracy theories. “I don’t want to go that far.”

However, the Austrian agreed that a lap deletion rule that would put to rest any speculation about a driver’s actions – as adopted by IndyCar in the US – would prove useful.

“I didn’t know that that was the rule in the US but I think it’s an intelligent rule that would avoid confusion.

“By any means I don’t think that Charles put it in the wall [deliberately] today, because there’s just too much at stake.

“But it would be a nice little incentive to make sure that the polemic that such a situation provokes is out of question, is not happening because nobody would doubt it.”

    Read also: Ferrari says ‘no serious damage’ to Leclerc’s gearbox

For good measure, Wolff made clear once again that he had no suspicions about Leclerc’s mistake.

“Like with all the incidents that we have seen in the past in Monaco, only the driver will ever know what exactly happened,” he said.

“In that case I doubt that Charles would make himself detonate in the rail which could cause even more damage to his car.”

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