Force India handed suspended fine for number infringement

2017 Spanish Grand Prix

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The Spanish Grand Prix stewards have handed Force India a suspended €25,000 fine after they were deemed to have failed to comply with new driver number rules for this weekend.

A new directive for teams active from this weekend obligated teams to ensure that driver numbers should be clearly visible and at least 230mm in height while driver names should be at least 150mm.

The stewards summoned team representatives after the conclusion of the race, following concerns that the driver name and numbers were not suitably clear.

Force India have subsequently been handed a €25,000 fine, but has been suspended for 12 months after the stewards accepted ‘mitigating circumstances’ for this weekend.

“Having heard from the Team Representative and having examined a number of photographs, the Stewards decide that the Competitor, Sahara Force India F1 Team, is in breach of the relevant regulation (and TM/002 – 17),” read the steward’s decision.

“A fine of € 25,000 is imposed.   However, in view of the following mitigating circumstances, the fine is suspended for a period of 12 months pending no further infringements of this nature.

“The mitigating circumstances are;   1.  The Competitor was not challenged about the numbers prior to the race   2.  The numbers (size, colour and location) were not changed during the event   3.  The Competitor has offered to work with the FIA and rectify the situation immediately.”

2017 Spanish Grand Prix

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    Will Wood
    Will has been a RaceFans contributor since 2012 during which time he has covered F1 test sessions, launch events and interviewed drivers. He mainly...

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    55 comments on “Force India handed suspended fine for number infringement”

    1. Mitigating circumstances = “Aaww come one, our Gaffer is about to go on a long free, holiday – give us a break” !

      1. Also “We have a clashing sponsor commitment that was agreed before these rules were announced, meaning that the sponsor could cite breach of contract if we change before the powers-that-be force us to do so”

    2. ridiculous… what was FIA doing during FP1,FP2 and FP3? Why after the race?

      1. More to the point, what were they doing in Thursday scrutineering when this was supposed to have been checked! (Hence why the “no change during weekend” circumstance was relevant).

    3. Sviatoslav (@)
      14th May 2017, 19:57

      This new rule from the FIA is so stupid. Drivers can’t change helmet designs, now this…
      And I always thought that only dumb or colorblind people can’t discern cars and drivers.

      1. New ones can’t either. It’s they who the FIA are trying to help.

    4. Robert McKay
      14th May 2017, 19:58

      To be fair, it does seem like to some extent FI got fined because they’re one of the few teams that actually has any sponsor logos on the car and therefore don’t have pretty much the entire bodywork to use to comply with this new rule.

    5. I do like the new strikter rule. Making it easier to see who is in the car is a good thing, especially at the track!
      I love how Mercedes has done it.
      But FI has the nice luxury of having too much sponsors :)

      1. But notice how even Mercedes changed their design on the shark fin for the race compared to the design they arrived at the track with. They got rid of the HAM and BOT and made the number bigger.

        I get the distinct impression that none of the teams really understood the rule.

    6. I don’t understand why nobody said something on Friday when they rolled out in practice. They would’ve certainly had enough time to fix the issue by Sunday

      1. @strontium you’re saying the right words. Why did they have to wait until Sunday? it’s a brand new rule, imposed midseason, to give fans a better understanding of what’s going on. Surely, a mere clarification was enough, or just some dude from FIA coming around the garage on friday saying: “would you mind painting the numbers a bit bigger for tomorrow?”

        Considering the circumstances, this is by far the stupidest penalty I can remember. Anyone remembers any other time where the FIA gone completely mad about something so inconsequential?

        1. Last year when Rosberg recieved help from his team in Silverstone with his gearbox (10 sec penalty) and the clampdown on team radio ensued in Hungary that Button was supposed to work out a brake pedal that didn’t work correctly and FIA counted it as a driver instruction instead of a safety message. Got a drive through penalty for that one.

        2. Yes. That time the FIA went ballastic a few years ago, in the middle of a 2013 race weekend (I think it was Germany or Hungary) because half the teams had been screen-printing instead of sewing on the homologation certifications for their fire suits. Six teams had all-nighters (not at the track) sewing those things on, with the threat of exclusion hanging over any who didn’t do it.

      2. I agree, one would have expected this rule to have been telegraphed several weeks before the actual rule came into force.

        1. Unanimously-agreed rules (like this one) require no notice.

    7. Why does the term “deckchairs” spring to mind

    8. If this rule is to serve it’s purpose I think it should stipulate exact location and format. I went back and looked through picture recaps to see what all the different teams had done and it’s frustrating. Each car has them placed differently, in different fonts, sizes, colors and locations. You don’t know what you’re looking for from one car to the next. Force India’s is particularly well hidden but very few immediately catch the eye.

      1. They can’t really force locations mid-season… “Oh that logo you paid millions to have placed right there? Yeah, you know. New rules”

      2. @pat you’re right, but that’s too reasonable to actually happen

      3. The FIA would be liable to pay for the costs of any and all lost sponsorship if they tried that. This is not something the FIA would have budgeted for in its annual conference.

    9. Its a great rulechange and it needs to be enforced but i fail to see the meaning of fining a team for it the very first race without even a warning. Its just stupidity at work.

      1. The fine is suspended which I’m assuming means they don’t have to pay it as long as the don’t repeat the infraction for 1 year. I believe if they are in compliance after a year then it goes away entirely. One of the reasons is as you stated, nobody challenged/warned them about it during the weekend.

        1. Fukobayashi (@)
          15th May 2017, 11:52

          What @dragon86 said. So yes it is effectively a warning.

    10. Complete nonsense.

      1. Yep. In several departments.

      2. Old wine in a new bottle. Makes no difference from previous administrators. Instead of thinking about silly penalities, F1 should think about monetary incentives to midfield cars and backmarkers on a weekly basis which will make them more competitive. F1 management need to come up with innovative ideas rather than copying (number) ideas from other motor racing.

      3. And this is where we find out that it is only FOM that has been dramatically changed, not the FIA…

    11. I kinda liked Pérez’ red 11. I only saw it during a pitstop, though.

    12. In a way, I’m not surprised. I looked through the photos on this site after each days activities and theirs was the only numbers I could not find on the car from side views.

    13. FIA doing their best, as usual.

    14. Don’t see the point of even having the rule. If you can’t ID the driver be either helmet colors or the camera color then I don’t see numbers/names been any more help given how there going to be far less visible & viable for less time than helmet/camera colors.

      As I said the other day I’ve never once got a driver ID wrong & I’ve never once used numbers or names on cars as a way to ID the driver, I’ve always gone by helmet colors and/or camera colors because both are more visible means of ID than looking for numbers or names. Even when Vettel had a different helmet design every race I never had an issue ID’ing him.

      It’s like so many other aspects of F1, Over-regulation with stupid rules that aren’t really needed. They stop drivers changing helmet designs, Force teams to put names/numbers on the cars but they can’t/won’t do anything about the things that are actually wrong & that would actually be a benefit to the show that they claim to be so worried about, I.E the actual racing.

      1. Disagree. Numbers come on all the time sheets and the abbreviations are what’s used in timing and scoring. Those get pounded in your head through repetition, including the backmarkers that hardly get shown during race coverage. The results page on this site uses car number and driver name. It make perfect sense that the be more prominent on the cars.

        1. @dragon86 I can’t even tell you what half the drivers numbers are, pay no attention to them whatsoever. on the timing screens & graphics i look at the names & on track i look at helmets. i watched the full weekend and can’t tell you what any of the numbers or names look like on any of the cars, didn’t look for them & paid them no attention at all.

          this rule is stupid and unnecessary just like the dumb rule preventing drivers from expressing themselves by running whatever helmet designs they wish to whenever they want. no other category is as over regulated as formula 1 has become with such ridiculous regulations like that.

      2. @stefmeister – spare a thought for the people new to F1 who haven’t memorised all these colour/name/team details before trying to follow a race, assuming there are any new viewers.
        And also for the 8% of men and 1% of women with impaired colour vision. For example, I still don’t know which team is pink. I read about it, but I can’t see it so it’s meaningless to me. The numbers helped me a lot when I watched the race.

        1. Sorry – Those rough colour-impairment numbers are for people with Northern European genetics. Your mileage may vary.

      3. Camera colours don’t work any more as they went to all-black a couple of years ago, and people at the track have trouble with doing the helmet-identification method for certain combinations. The number system allows any solo newcomer with a programme to independently figure out who’s who without much fuss.

        1. (I say this as someone who uses numbers in addition to car and helmet identifier cues, as appropriate to what I can see/hear at the time).

    15. Stupid fine. Why they waited until sunday?

    16. Have to say that it is a pretty silly rule & all a bit pointless.

      I was at the track on Friday & Saturday & the cars go by so quickly that you don’t get time to see or read the numbers or names anyway regardless of how big they are or where there placed. can’t say i have ever looked at the numbers at any of the race series that i have followed on tv or at the track, can’t even tell you what numbers most of the drivers in the various series i watch run with.

      I actually looked out for some of them on Friday out of interest & even some of the more prevalent one’s were tricky to see as the cars whizzed past at speed.

      If your looking out for a number, name or whatever every time a car goes by then your not really watching the car so all it does it take your focus away…… just another silly rule thats end of the day completely pointless imo.

    17. I wish I were a fly in the room when this post-race meeting went down. Force India’s defense statement should had been this: “A fine? For no numbers on the cars? We’re the only team running their cars in pink-easy to see on television! We should be awarded a Championship point for just being different!”

      1. Maybe that’s why it’s a suspended fine (in other words, they’ll probably never have to pay any money over at all). The FIA doesn’t really do the “carrot” approach…

    18. Michael Brown (@)
      15th May 2017, 2:42

      This rule won’t work because it’s an in-season rule change. Teams have already sold the spaces on their cars to sponsors, so that’s why the numbers are in different places from team to team.

      If the FIA really want to push this identification idea, then they should standardize locations on the cars where numbers and abbreviations must be, as well as their size. Enforce this standardization for next year, before the cars are built and sponsorships have been sold.

      In my opinion, there should be a number on the side of the car: either the rear wing pillar, the engine cover, the sidepods, or the shark fin. There should be a number on the nose, but everyone already does this. There should also be a number on the monocoque in front of the driver so it can be seen from the T-can view (think of how WEC requires car numbers to be seen from onboard cameras).

      If they want driver numbers to be part of identification then make them more visible because right now it’s still better to look at the helmet (and they banned changes a year after permanent numbers were introduced!)

      1. I honestly don’t understand the onboard camera visible numbers. Why would you ever want to NOT overlay driver information when showing a car’s onboard camera?

    19. I think that many comments do no understand one key factor: This regulation is not targeting F1F’s but casual viewers who watch the races on TV. If F1 wants to attract new fan base, it has to (naturally) think of those who are still in the proces of being initiated into the dark secrets of this sect. Then it starts making sense, in particular cam color and helmet design lose its usefullness. As one commentator already mentioned above, it makes sense identifying drivers using information that a TV viewer can see on the screen.

      For the record, I also find the numbers useful, if only beause it makes my job easier when sorting through older photographs.

      A few remarks regarding some points raised earlier:
      1. “One can tell drivers by their helmets.”
      This was true years ago, when drivers made sure that their helmets sported prominents patterns with contrasting colors. Once the drivers went artistic, we often see swirls and swipes of colours that are not distinct enough for someone who does not know them by heart (see the remark about casual fans).

      2. “I was at the track and I could not see the numbers anyway.”
      The way I see it, the numbers are not really targeted at live audience, in particular because once you know the standings, you can easily count as they go past: The first white car is MAS, the second one is the other guy :-).
      However, if you watch the race on TV, the director often cuts to some white car at some random part of the track and it is nice to have a handy guide as to what driver you actually see.

    20. Oh for crying out loud, FIA!

    21. Damn it Force India! Why do you have to be so successful in getting sponsors to cover your car in?
      Hell, if they do pay a fine, it will probably part of a new sponsorship.

      To be fair, I find the Force India cars are the hardest to tell apart, because of the similar helmet colours.
      But at the same time, the fact its harder to read the number in their current positions is probably why there was space for the numbers there in the first place (as it wouldn’t be good spots for sponsors).

      1. Michael Brown (@)
        15th May 2017, 15:38

        For shaken. How dare they not struggle with sponsorship

      2. The livery and the colour of the camera at the top of the car is how I identify cars at a distance and have done for years. Not a bad new rule per se, but as usual the idiots insist on introducing it mid season. I look forward to more stupidity in the coming weeks.

    22. Vote Jean!

    23. Red Bull and Toro Rosso’s numbers were just as hard to spot. The only way I could tell them apart was Ricciardo hadn’t crashed and the first Toro Rosso is usually Sainz.

      Would they have threatened to quit F1 again, if they’d got a suspended slap on the suspended wrist?

    24. Michael Brown (@)
      15th May 2017, 15:40

      “You infringed the rules but instead of telling you immediately on Friday, we’ll tell you after the weekend so it looks like you defied us.”

      Delete your rules, FIA

    25. Hans (@hanswesterbeek)
      16th May 2017, 9:02

      It took me about 10 minutes of scrolling through pictures of the Spanish GP to find out how FI tries to identify it’s drivers. Only a red (on pink) number way up the nose, and no driver identification when the car is seen from the side. Add to that the near-identical helmet designs of Ocon and Perez and I see the need for the FIA to nudge them a bit.

      I don’t agree why a fine would be a good way to solve this however. I’d rather see the FIA take a set of large white circular stickers, and stick them on the cars however they feel like it. So the rule becomes: “Either you make the driver numbers and names clearly visible, or the FIA will do it for you. In a pretty terrible way.”

      1. @hanswesterbeek That might be the next step if the cars show up at Monaco scrutineering in the same state ;)

        1. Hans (@hanswesterbeek)
          27th May 2017, 15:11

          @alianora-la-canta And so they did, apparently!

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