Did Mercedes & Red Bull Employ Unsafe Tactics During the Pit-Stops at Qatar GP?

Published 11/23/2021, 4:56 AM EST
Formula One F1 – Brazilian Grand Prix – Jose Carlos Pace Circuit, Sao Paulo, Brazil – November 14, 2021 Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton and Red Bull’s Sergio Perez during the race REUTERS/Ricardo Moraes


The 2021 Formula 1 season is one for the ages. With two races to go in the season, the championship battles are closer than they’ve ever been in the last few years. Red Bull and Mercedes have both been responding to each other’s advances and developments almost like for like (except for the recent pace advantage of Mercedes) from pit stops to strategies to even tire compounds.

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But the close-fought battle has now extended to pit lane tactics as well. And yes, ‘Who is quicker?’ is usually the most detrimental factor for pit stops, but there’s also a silent but equally important factor in form of pneumonic lines.

While Mercedes didn’t move theirs in Brazil, Red Bull responded by not moving theirs in Qatar. When a team does so, what happens is that the entry to the pit box area becomes narrower, which can slow down the driver.

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In a sport in which pit stops are so important, reaching the pit box is equally crucial.

So, it’s understandable that the two teams are using every single line from every single page in the book, even the stuff between the lines, to outsmart (or fool) their rival. But FIA may not be so understanding.

They’ve already penalized Hamilton’s rear wing in Brazil. And although the same may not happen with the pneumonic lines for either team, FIA can still impose a technical directive against this behavior.

Because slow down your rival, it may do, but it’s also a question of safety not just for the driver but for the pit crew as well.

The season-long championship battle between Red Bull and Mercedes

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In almost all areas and categories, the two rivals are very close to each other. Verstappen has finished on the podium in 16/20 races with nine races won. And Hamilton has finished on the podium in 15/20 races with six races won. As for double podiums, Mercedes have seen seven races with both their drivers on the podium while Red Bull have four.

This naturally reflects in the present state of the championship. Currently, Mercedes have a five-point lead over Red Bull while Max Verstappen leads Lewis Hamilton by eight points.

Formula One F1 – United States Grand Prix – Circuit of the Americas, Austin, Texas, U.S. – October 24, 2021 Red Bull’s Max Verstappen celebrates on the podium after winning the race with second place Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton REUTERS/Brian Snyder

Now, with two races to go, the championship battle will definitely come even closer before it’s decided. As F1 fans, let’s just hope the season is decided by the last lap of the last race through legitimate reasons, on the tarmac, with drives in their cars, racing.

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Shaharyar

184 articles

Shaharyar is a Formula 1 & NASCAR writer at EssentiallySports. A graduate in Journalism from Amity University, he has been a passionate follower of motorsports for better part of the decade. A Max Verstappen and Ferrari supporter, he dreams of a pairing of the two in future.

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