Top pilots flying blind in qualifying

The wet qualifying at Silverstone had another annoyance in store for the Formula 1 drivers. Because of the conditions, the drivers got incorrect delta times displayed on their steering wheel. These usually give clues as to how you compare to your own best time, but that didn’t help at all this time in Q3.

Because the fastest times were set at the end of Q1, although all drivers were on intermediates throughout qualifying. The drivers were then shown the Q1 time in Q3 as a reference, which they were unable to match.

Pole setter Carlos Sainz set the fourth fastest time in Q1 with 1:40.190 minutes, but then took pole in Q3, although he was almost eight tenths of a second slower at 1:40.983 minutes. It was therefore unclear to the pilots how competitive they really are in the decisive section.

“Because the fastest lap was in Q1, you have that as a reference. But in Q1 the track was much drier – or at least less wet,” says Sainz. “It frustrates me – and I think all of us – when you see you’re three seconds slower.”

Sainz even asked his race engineer to reset the delta on the steering wheel, “because I was really angry and frustrated,” said the Ferrari driver. “We reset it and I’ve improved just by looking at the dashboard. That really helps.”

Max Verstappen had the same problem, but he simply based himself on how close he got to his own time in Q1: “Of course I kept getting closer, but I was always on the plus side,” he says. “And at some point you notice a trend where you lose time.”

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