Renault team principal Cyril Abiteboul says a “stupid regulation” regarding drivers’ starting tyres for races should be scrapped, lashing out at Formula 1’s top teams for opting not to vote it out of the sport for 2020.
Drivers that qualify for the top-10 shootout in qualifying are ordered to start the race on the tyres used to set their best times in Q2, while the other 10 drivers have free choice.
Mercedes, Ferrari and Red Bull’s ability to set suitable times to make Q3 on harder compound tyres has made the rule counterproductive in many fans’ eyes, while Renault purposefully did not try to get into Q3 at the 2018 Russian GP in order to guarantee a free choice of tyres when circumstances ensured they would start 11th and 12th.
Drivers starting in positions seven to 10 often begin races at a disadvantage to those immediately behind them, but a unanimous vote to drop the rule was not reached, despite plans to abandon it.
Abiteboul told Motorsport.com: “It was agreed in the Strategy Group, everyone agreed [to vote against the rule]. Then when it comes to a vote, all the arrangements seemed to come back, and frankly I’m exasperated by that.
“There was a lobby from the top teams and their junior teams to stop a change, because it’s a regulation that was engineered by the top teams to protect them. I don’t think they need it, but it’s an extra protection.
“It’s also something that’s helping teams that are customers or are affiliated to the top teams, and the ones that are squeezed are what I call the ‘middle class’, it’s us and McLaren in most cases.
“In fairness, sometimes it’s been to our advantage, when we were outside the top 10 – Mexico and Suzuka for example. But it’s not because it’s sometimes to our advantage that we should keep it.
“It’s a stupid regulation, it needs to go away. No one is doing anything about it, and frankly I am exasperated to see it happening again.”