Formula 1 has been unable to find a better alternative to giving grid penalties to drivers who user too many power unit components, according to Haas’s Gunether Steiner.
Each driver is limited to a maximum number of each power unit element for a full season. If these are exceeded the drivers are moved back places on the grid or even relegated to the back of the field.
The penalties are unpopular with fans, but Steiner says the sport has been unable to come up with another solution which would force teams to stick to the limit on the number of engines they can use each season.
Steiner compared the situation to Ferrari’s fine for sending Charles Leclerc from the pits into the path of Romain Grosjean’s car in Germany. Rival teams were unhappy at the decision and urged the FIA to give sporting penalties for similar incidents in future.
“It’s like when you get a fine for an unsafe release,” said Steiner. “Five thousand Euros in Formula 1 is nothing. If you can get a tenth of a [second] advantage for €5,000 you do it every day.”
Other alternatives to the grid penalties have not found favour. Docking championship points is impractical as the value of a single point to each team varies enormously. And Steiner believes giving drivers penalty ballast or less fuel would likely be no better than the current arrangement.
“I think that is even more confusing than grid penalties,” he said. “A grid penalty, [you] explain it at the beginning of the race and then you are OK. But then if you have ballast or less fuel, [the] commentators on TV [have] to explain why all of a sudden that car is slower than the other one.
“Therefore I think in the moment they haven’t found a better solution so at the moment it’s the status quo.”
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