Op-Ed: Should drivers collude during Monaco Q1?

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Lewis Hamilton said something after the first day of practice for this weekend’s Monaco Grand Prix that got me thinking, and wondering.

Here’s Lewis, via Autosport, on the crowded track conditions expected this weekend, especially during the first qualifying session when all 24 drivers will be seeking that one fastest lap:

“I don’t know what’s going to happen but I’m going to hope that everyone is respectful,” he said. “Clearly everyone wants to get a lap for themselves, but hopefully we’ll all get a lap.

“We managed to do it today, so it’s not impossible. But a lot of people will have laps messed up and it will be very difficult out there. We have a drivers’ briefing and we’ll try to work together to make sure we all do the best job we can.”

Does that sound to you like it does to me? There sure seems to be the implication or the possibility that the drivers could come up with their own informal plan to deal with the crowded grid now that the teams have refused to do anything official.

Could you blame them? If they really are worried not only about setting lap times but their safety, would it be wrong for the drivers to quietly work out an arrangement? Would it be beyond reason for Michael Schumacher, Mark Webber or Fernando Alonso to suggest that the three new teams plus Nico Hulkenberg and Kamui Kobayashi run during the first 10 minutes and then get off the track? I mean, there’s the benefit to these teams, too, to having a clearer track.

Of course, I’m sure there would be uproar and backlash, but that would be manageable, right? The drivers always have the “safety car(d)” to play, and they could argue pretty convincingly that they agreed among themselves to a solution they all believed was most equitable.

There also could be backlash from the teams, but can you imagine the PR nightmare if, say, Peter Sauber punished or even fired his drivers for participating?

The key would be being united, of course. If any of the drivers broke ranks — to say the decision wasn’t unanimous, or that some drivers really pushed it, or even that the safety concerns were overblown — it could unravel. But what’s the drivers’ association for if not to manage these types of issues?

If the drivers are really concerned both about their safety and the ability for everyone to get a legitimate hot lap, is that risk not worth taking?

What would be your reaction to such a move by the drivers?

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