Pic to get ten-place penalty for engine change

2012 Korean Grand Prix

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Charles Pic will become the first driver this year to incur a penalty for having an engine change.

Marussia confirmed their driver will have his ninth Cosworth unit fitted this weekend. Drivers are limited to eight engines per season, and Pic will receive a ten-place grid penalty as a result.

So far this year there have been 20 grid penalties issued for gearbox changes.

2012 Korean Grand Prix

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    Image © Marussia

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    Keith Collantine
    Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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    43 comments on “Pic to get ten-place penalty for engine change”

    1. Pic will now start from 32nd place.

      1. This does sort of drive home the problem with this mechanically-induced grid penalties, doesn’t it? As if the problems with that system weren’t already pretty obvious…

        1. @leucocrystal
          Maybe forcing them to start from the pitlane unless they can be moved fully, or maybe a minimum of 80 percent (i.e 8 places in this case) back on the grid. Because as it is right now, then all those penalties mean pretty much nothing to the backmarkers.

          1. Yeah, I’m still not sure what the ideal alternative would be (I’ve heard many proposed, including starting from pitlane, which definitely makes its own amount of sense), but I can only be sure there must be something better than the current system.

      2. @lustigson It does rather show how inadequate this sort of penalty is. It is inevitable that there is one driver on the grid every race for which a grid penalty makes no difference at all.

        1. @keithcollantine whilst there are certainly problems with the system as discussed previously I don’t actually agree that this is a problem if you look at the purpose of the rule. The purpose is to improve longevity of mechanical parts in order to drive down costs so that lower budget teams can survive and compete. Three teams can really benefit from the ‘loophole’ but in reality they will presumably have sufficient financial incentive to keep engine use in line with the regulations anyway, so the fact that the grid penalty is minimal (but does guarantee they will start behind all of their direct competitors) doesn’t detract from the overall effectiveness of the rule.

    2. A penalty that could cost 1 driver 25 points and another driver absolutely nothing. Love it!

      Is anyone else close to their engine limit this season? Didn’t think anyone was close, but I was apparently wrong.

      1. @disjunto

        A penalty that could cost 1 driver 25 points and another driver absolutely nothing. Love it!

        And what would you suggest would be a fair penalty?

        The engine change rule – like the gearbox change penalty – is the same for everyone. The stewards can’t go changing it based on whatever is the likely outcomeof the race for the driver who takes the penalty. Tat’s when it starts to become unfair.

          1. @keithcollantine – I like the idea of excluding cars from scoring Constructors’ points, but my concern is that teams might start strategically taking penalties in order to be competitive. For example, let’s say that Korea is the penultimate race this year. Red Bull have 324 points, while Ferrari would have 263. Ferrari would be unlikely to make up that ground on Red Bull over the final two races of the year, so what would be stopping them from giving Fernando Alonso fresh engines so that he can better race Sebastian Vettel for the title?

          2. @keithcollantine
            Excluding car’s finishing position counting towards constructor’s championship would be a horrible idea. From teams’ perspective driver’s championship points matter only to those who are fighting for the championship. Therefore most teams would decide just to risk it and not change engines or gear boxes since penalty for that would basically be the same as retirement.

            1. @hotbottoms
              True that. And it could be used the other way around like @prisoner-monkeys suggests. I really don’t think that, that is the right way to do it.

        1. @prisoner-monkeys

          I honestly have no clue what would be a fair penalty. Straight up negative points sounds like an interesting one, but then you have the opposite issue; negative points for lower teams means a lot more than for the top teams.

          Guess we just have to live with penalties that are either too harsh or completely meaningless depending on who receives them.

          1. +1 engine -10% of points or reward (cash) at the end of the year.

        2. 50 lashes??

    3. I didn’t realise that there were 34 grid places…

      1. If there was, that would be reserved for Narain Karthikeyan.

        1. @andrewtanner Or, if we turn back the clock, Jean Denis Deletraz :)

    4. Just a question: I believe McLaren are using their eighth engine this weekend. Are they in the danger zone as well?

      1. @andae23
        Considering that they, over the season, have to use each engine for on average 2.5 races to get through with only 8 engines pr. car, then one engine unit for 5 races does seem like a bit of a stretch.

      2. If they are using their eighth engines, then yes.

        However, unlike the gearboxes, the teams are free to change their engines whenever and wherever they like. They’re just limited to the eight engines that were allocated to each of the cars at the start of the season; they only take a penalty when they start using extra engines (and only when they make the change – if Pic finishes the season with this engine, he won’t take any further penalty). So if McLaren are using the engine designated 8 for Hamilton’s car, but engines 3 and 6 have not been used (or have not been used very much), they can swap to either of those at any of the next five races. It’s when they use engine number 9 that it becomes a problem.

    5. They used up 8 engines in 15 races and he’s supposed to drive the remaining 5 with a single unit?
      That math doesn’t make sense to me, unless they plan on also using a 10th and 11th engine.

      1. I guess they have not-much-used engine but it might be obvious they should use 10th engine sooner or later due to failure. then You should choose which race would be affected by penalty. It seems Marussia think Korea is less important than other races.

        1. @eggry you could argue that Marusia think Korea is more important than the other races if the benefit of a new engine (and greater likelihood of a finish) and not needing to use up any tyres in qualifying or consider qualy in car set-up outweighs only a couple of grid places at the start.

          1. That might be right.

      2. @dennis They’re operated on a rotation basis. They cannot race with the same engine they use in practice, it has to be swapped for another one. In all likelihood the engine that they are replacing may be used at another venue for practice purposes only. If that fails then they have another 7 engines still in rotation.

    6. So, surely he may as well not bother Qualifying and start from the back with load’s of fresh tyres?

      1. Surely he still needs to qualify within 107% to be eligable to race?

        1. @mike-e – Not if his practice times have been within 107%, he’d probably be given a by into the race still. Thought the FIA would probably guess they wouldn’t Qualify to save tyres seeing as he’ll start last anyway, and probably wouldn’t like too kindly upon it.

    7. Does this mean that Pic now gets a 10-place drop for every race remaining of the season? Or just Korea?

      Seems like a slightly impotent penalty if it’s only for one race?

      1. Just in Korean unless they use 11th engine.

        1. You mean a tenth engine…?

    8. They might as well change his gearbox while they’re at it.

    9. i don’t see the problem people have with this rule. it helps reliability and saves money for everybody. and as for the back markers, the engine is not their biggest problem. They would not gain much in exploiting the fact that a 10-place grid drop doesn’t cost them much.

      Lets say that they did indeed try to take advantage. The extra power that they would get would not give them a big enough advantage to recoup the money lost by wasting more engines in the season.

      So i think the rule is ok. It works as a deterrent for the top teams and midfield, and the small teams don’t gain anything by exploiting it. If you did want to have a different rule for back-markers you would need to define what you mean by a back-marker. Who would decide where to draw the line?

    10. as with the rest of the cynics in this discussion, I would recommend one of the bottom 3 teams attempt a tactic wherein they cop this penalty, see how far a one-race spec engine would take them. I know 10th place is kind of a big deal for Caterham, Marussia and HRT, and so is an 11th or 12th place.

      1. They don’t have the funds since such an engine is no longer developed they would need to cover not only the cost of the extra engine but also the development and testing work, that’s assuming Cosworth are even willing and able to do such a bespoke development for a single team. It’s also a huge gamble since the small teams are at the back not due to a lack of power, but due to aero development, and there’s no guarantee that a bit more power will make much of a difference – its too much money for too little gain and will never happen.

    11. It is a Cosworth engine I believe? I seem to remember Williams struggling with them last year, certainly not one of the best units out there.
      They may as well change everything and at least have a chance of claiming pole……………..

    12. Well could this be a possibility as this penalty is worthless to Pic, if he drops 5 places for example and then is last, he has pretty much escaped half of his penalty so could the other half be taken fowards into the next race and the remainder of the penalty is used up there so at least he does summer 10 places.

    13. Wow, 40 comments on a story on backmarker, changing times.

    14. The penalty should be against the constructor via points. NOT against the driver. Given this still means little for Marussia, but I think it would a more fare way to go about it. That way they can potentially still be competitive against other teams but not gain the points advantage post race.

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