‘This shouldn’t be part of the DNA of racing’: Drivers tire of grid penalty confusion

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“I think it’s P7, unless I’m stupid.” At least Max Verstappen knew where he would start the Italian Grand Prix after qualifying second-fastest but copping a penalty for a power unit parts change.

But not everyone was clear. Fernando Alonso, for example, was also convinced he would start seventh.

Most drivers were left baffled after Saturday’s session as nine of them – almost half the grid – collected penalties. While the Red Bull driver only had a five-place drop, after taking his fifth V6 internal combustion engine of the season, eight others had combination of drops and instructions to start at the back of the grid. That left teams and drivers without definitive answers as to who started where until hours after the session.

So what hope did the fans have of knowing where they would all start in the meantime? The FIA released its provisional grid almost four hours after the session ended.

Grid penalties for using too many engine parts are not new. They were introduced in 2004, when teams were first limited to one engine per car per weekend. However, the power unit penalty system really started to become a major factor after F1 introduced its complex V6 hybrid turbo engines at the start of 2014.

Penalties for engine changes date back to F1’s V10 era
Today, to prevent excessive spending, teams are limited to three internal combustion engines, three turbochargers, three MGU-H, three MGU-K, three energy stores, two control electronics and eight exhaust systems a season. Simply put, if you exceed your allocated amount of any of these, you pick up grid penalties. Penalties range between five or 10 place penalties, but if a driver exceeds 15 places in a single round, they start that race from the back of the starting grid. Unless someone else does too, which is where things start to get complicated.

Strategically, Monza and Spa present prime opportunities to take additional parts. The long straights give drivers in faster cars a great chance to carve their way through the field if they start from the back, as Sunday’s race demonstrated. Increasingly, a spate of penalties occur at these two rounds.

Many drivers, who spent much of the hours after qualifying on Saturday poking fun at the system on social media, concluded something must change.

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Esteban Ocon was vocal with his thoughts on penalties after he qualified P14 after picking up a five-place grid penalty.

“It’s a bit hard to understand, maybe if we allocated one more engine for everybody, they would be nice,” laughed the Alpine driver after qualifying in Italy. Asked if he believed the penalties were getting out of hand, he replied: “I think so. No manufacturer manages to get such few parts for the whole season.

Three engines for 22 grands prix is not enough, says Ocon
“We are doing too many races and it’s just not possible. It’s probably something for the FIA to review for next year. Up the number of parts a little bit.”

The 10 teams are clearly having a hard enough time completing 22 races without exceeding the power unit limit. But it looks set to get even more difficulty: The 2023 F1 calendar is widely expected to include two more rounds with no increase in the number of power unit parts.

Speaking on Saturday, with his driver Lewis Hamilton starting at the back after taking a new power unit, Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff acknowledged the system’s shortcomings but pointed out it exists for a reason.

“If there were no grid penalties, we would have qualifying engines, and not five, but 20,” he began. “The big teams would spend what they want in order to have an advantage. That’s why there needs to be a certain factor that limits that and avoids that.

“Has it gotten too complicated? For sure. But still we don’t want to have an arms race on engines being brought, because whatever freedom you give us, we will do with it even more strategically because it’s only five places or 10 places. We’ll blow an engine every race because it’s going to be three times quicker than the one before, so there needs to be a certain deterrent.”

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The power unit penalty system is a difficult concept to explain to the many new fans F1 has successfully attracted in recent years. For all the fine work F1 has done broadening its appeal, explaining why it took so long to work out the starting positions for one race can only be a turn-off.

Norris reckons penalties can make the grid “more interesting”
Pierre Gasly qualified ninth but wasn’t sure where he’d start immediately after qualifying – he eventually lined up fifth. He pointed out that the rise in teams taking grid penalties tactically messes with the “DNA” of the sport.

“You know you’re getting a penalty and you time it strategically depending on what other guys are doing,” he explained. “Some guys took five places here because some of the guys took back of the grid, so it made sense. I just feel like this should not be part of the DNA of racing.

“At the end of the day, when you look at qualifying, the fastest guy starts ahead on the grid for the race on Sunday, and that’s the way it should be.”

Mercedes’ George Russell, who was promoted from sixth to second last weekend thanks to various penalties ahead of him, described the system as a “double-edged sword.”

“We’re trying to be more sustainable in F1, cutting down the number of parts of engines we use across a season, and we have more and more races,” Russell said.

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“We have three engines to take us through 22 races – I don’t know how many kilometres that is running flat out on a single engine, but it’s a huge amount. It’s normal there are going to be failures along the way.

Race start, Monza, 2022
Hamilton raced his way to fifth from the back
“I’m sure F1 will have a bit of a rethink after this.”

But there are some who see the penalties as a feature of the modern sport, rather than a fault, such as Lando Norris. “It’s the same question we get every year,” he stated, adding he believed the jumbled-up grids “just makes it more interesting.”

Is there a middle ground F1 could find which would prevent teams excessively taking new engines? One which wouldn’t leave its own drivers publicly poking fun at the fact that they’ve been penalised more places than there are spots on the grid?

At the very least, those running the show need to make sure there is at least some indication of where everyone will start once qualifying finishes and stop leaving millions of fans – not to mention the drivers themselves – scratching their heads.

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Claire Cottingham
Claire has worked in motorsport for much of her career, covering a broad mix of championships including Formula One, Formula E, the BTCC, British...

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71 comments on “‘This shouldn’t be part of the DNA of racing’: Drivers tire of grid penalty confusion”

  1. Power unit costs are exempt from the budget cap, I believe? A sensible option could be to remove the exemption – then teams can use as many parts as they like but will have to rein in their spending on other things. That would certainly address Wolff’s concerns.

    Of course it would also mean that F1 might finally have to start grappling with the question of what penalties should be applied for breaches of the budget cap…

    1. @red-andy Problem with having engines as part of the budget cap is that not every team is actually paying for the engine supply while others aren’t paying for the manufacturing, development & maintenance of them.

      Customer teams like Williams are simply paying for a years supply of engines, A team that has factory backing with have deals to pay less for the supply or even get them for free while full manufacturer backed teams like Ferrari & Mercedes technically get a free supply with costs incurred by the engine team rather than the race team.

      If you had the engines as part of the budget cap you would basically be taking more off Williams, McLaren etc… than you would Mercedes, Ferrari, Probably even Red Bull & Sauber who will likely have a factory discount deal with Audi when they come in.

      Also the customer teams are buying the engine supply so it’s not really fair to hit them with additional costs for something they have no control over, Especially considering that the engine limit was brought in primarily to help the smaller teams with costs.

      1. Problem with having engines as part of the budget cap is that not every team is actually paying for the engine supply while others aren’t paying for the manufacturing, development & maintenance of them.

        That is not actually that big of an issue though @roger-ayles, it is just a matter of finding (agreeing upon/establishing) a benchmark number for several items of making an engine/powertrain. The FIA and the suppliers are working those out at the moment.

        A team that gets the engines for “free” because of factory backing is easy – the factory backing them will have internal documents that show the amount of money allocated for this supply because it is an essential part of reporting to their own board and most likely something their accountant will also want to have specified. The same goes for budgets for R&D of the engines etc.

        That kind of stuff has already been done as part of the current budget cap.

        1. They don’t even need to do that. The easiest solution is to leave engines out of the budget cap but just agree a set amount per component. Each time an additional component is used, the set amount is charged to the budget.

          It doesn’t matter if you pay for your engines or not then – you used an extra engine so that’s £500k (I have no idea what this amount should be) reduction your budget cap. For the teams that will never hit their budget cap anyway, they’re obviously working to a set budget so having to purchase additional components is going to reduce their overall budget anyway.

          There are still some issues with this though for me. Firstly, the teams don’t all make their own engines. If one goes bang during it’s first race then the team is being punished because their engine supplier did something wrong… They’ve already been punished with a DNF but are then further punished because of a failure. The people potentially responsible for the failure are actually rewarded with an additional sale!

          The same applies to crashes that damage parts. Someone could punt another car off, the FIA could punish them and state that the offending driver was wholly to blame but the innocent party as then punished for having to put a new engine or gearbox in….

          1. I really like this idea @petebaldwin I think it can have legs once the budget reporting to the FIA is figured out. Then they need to put in place policing. I think that now that the teams have baseline budgets they can do what if analysis and see if they favor budget hits or grid drops.

            LOL, wild hair, what if a team got a choice when they changed an engine (Grid Drop of X or a budget hit of Y). It would make figuring out the grid easier because some teams are taking the budget hit. Less people in the mix. If you are out of budget then you take grid drops. If you have budget you put in a new engine and hopefully finish with better points. Now that could be fun to watch unfold.

  2. Again an article on this. It’s simple. It’s the rules. They all had input in these rules and they all agreed to it. If they want them changed, raise the issue and advocate for a change. But they won’t and the drivers who were confused about this… well, maybe it says more about them then the system.

    Can we finally put this behind us?

    1. I’ve watched the sport for over 30 years and I still had to refer to an article after qualifying was done to understand what the grid actually was. If I can’t understand where people are starting and the drivers are also confused then that’s a pretty ridiculous situation to be in.

      You can’t put stuff behind you when it’s still an issue.

      1. I think this is less to do with the rules being confusing and more to do with how badly explained they are. There’s a simple way of explaining it but it seems broadcasters and even race directors are reluctant to use it for some reason.

      2. @slowmo:
        I’m not saying you’re wrong, but that is a different problem (which isn’t solved by just watching more years of F1). It’s really bad they put out a grid 4 hours after Q. They knew there would be a flurry of penalties, informing the public of the correct grid should have been a priority.

    2. Pretty much that, yeah @baasbas.

      If they had built powertrains that would work for long enough to make it through the season within the allocation that was known quite a time ahead of the season there would be no issue. But the teams/manufacturers decided to push for more power (also because reliability CAN be addressed later, but development is frozen until the new engines come in)

  3. Engine amount limitations is something for WEC.

  4. The teams do need more parts made available. But at the same time more draconian penalties need to be applied for taking those parts.
    For example taking one extra part should result in starting the race from the pit exit. Each subsequent part taken at the same race should be penalised by an additional 15sec penalty added to their race time.

    1. I think this was done earlier on in the turbo/hybrid era. Multiple changes would result in a pit lane start, with a drive-through or stop/go penalty to be served within the first few laps of the race.

      1. @red-andy There was indeed time penalties for anything beyond the 20 positions, it was just as unworkable as the situation at Monza.

        Jenson Button had something like a 70 place grid penalty for changes over a weekend.

        I also feel that F1 is about flat out racing and not endurance, however, modern F1 does embrace endurance and the penalties do add an additional strategy element.

        1. @maddme

          I also feel that F1 is about flat out racing and not endurance

          F1 was never really about flat out racing & there was always an element of endurance racing to it because there was always some elements that needed to be managed be it engines, gearbox, tires, brakes or just looking after the car in general by staying off aggressive kerbs etc..

          There were races in the refueling era that did become a flat out sprint (Hungary 1998, Suzuka 2000 & France 2004 come to mind) but even then they were the exception rather than the norm which is why they stand out above other races.

          I don’t quite know where the mentality that F1 was always more of a flat out sprint race came from over the past 10-ish years because historically that is something F1 never was.

          1. @roger-ayles. Perhaps I see the racing of the early 80’s to some degrees different, with engine changes between sessions, including a different spec Qualification engine.

            Very often the races were pretty much flat out, as there wasn’t the information feedback showing telemetry of what the engine or car was handling the race.

          2. @maddme It’s true that teams weren’t feeding information to the drivers who also didn’t have the sort of data available to them that they have today but they were still not driving the cars anywhere near flat out in the races because again they was always something that needed to be managed.

            With the turbo’s of the 1980’s in particular they never had enough fuel to run the race flat out so were always having to manage the fuel usage by reducing boost levels as well as short shifting & just driving slower.

            And even taking fuel out of it they were still having to manage the engines, gearbox, brakes, tires, clutch & various other things. If we say that driving a car flat out is 100% I doubt anyone was anywhere near that for more than a handful of laps & would only get closer to that 100% limit if they needed to make up time or go for an overtake (Mansell at Silverstone in 1987 would be one such example).

            It’s also why the pace between different cars swung around so much & part of why there was more overtaking. Drivers would be managing different things to different degrees at different times and as a drivers pace increased/decreased at different points you tended to get drivers moving forwards/backwards and it was this which tended to create a lot of the overtaking (Along with mistakes such as missing a gear).

          3. Maddme, only some teams would do that – the fact that the Brabham team, which was the works BMW team for a while, had to do that for a long time due to the unreliability of their early engines, created a misleading impression (heightened by the lies that collected around that engine in later years).

            The TAG-Porsche engines, for example, were frequently used for multiple races – usually 2-3 races at a time, with only around 40 engines being built over a 4 year period. Others also reused engines too, otherwise you were throwing away an absolute fortune that few manufacturers could afford – basically, only BMW spent that much, mainly because it was seen as good advertising.

    2. @frogster:
      The teams do need more parts made available.

      You could also flip that argument 180 degrees and say: they need to make the engines more reliable. But they won’t do that because then they’d lose performance and since the penalty is not high enough. This would change however if the rules would say: no more than 3 engines per car. Did you use up your third engine before the championship ends? Well, guess you’re out the championship then. But they won’t do that either.
      Don’t feel pity for the manufacturers, it’s just the game they’re playing. They could fix it very easily, but they won’t. It’s just the risk-reward thing they’re doing.

  5. Why is it that F1 drivers are so regularly reported as being against all the rules that their teams wanted?

    1. @S:
      To be fair, only 1 driver is quoted as such. There is one quoted who’d like to see more parts. And then there is one quoted as a supporter. But such a nuanced article will not receive enough clicks. So they put the quote of the 1 complaining in title and add ‘drivers tire of grid penalty confusion’ and voila, clicks…

      1. To be fair, only 1 driver is quoted as such.

        On this occasion…
        I’m not really referencing the reporting, btw…

    2. Maybe because drivers don’t get a direct say in the regulations?

  6. Got a better idea? From what I hear, Aston martin didn’t get any penalties for changing parts, so it’s not impossible.

  7. If a driver knows they have to take a penalty going into the race, then that should be applied after Q1, leaving the rest of the grid to battle it out for their grid slot. Confusion solved.

    1. That could work with back-of-the-grid penalties, but would be pretty meaningless for top teams taking 5 or even 10-place penalties. That would only mean Max goes through to Q2 in P6 or P11 instead of P1…

      1. Okay, so may sound extreme but how about any penalty that would be given due to a mechanical failure/replacement of part results in being put to the back of the grid – regardless of what it is. They still compete in Q1 to confirm their positions in grid slots at the back of the grid, but it doesn’t impact the essence of quali for those cars that haven’t used any new parts, and we know the end result will be accurate.

        Penalties for sporting regulations…up for discussion, but I think the major issue is the reliability of parts.

  8. Change any one part over the allocation of 3 then back of grid (BOG) is the penalty. They are then sorted from there as now in qualifying order if more than 1 has the penalty. This would stop the strategic 5 places when someone else has 15 or BOG. However I think that 3 is probably one too few given the number of races.

  9. Very simple just dock points off the teams everything new -25 points new ICE -5 points I think no-one is going to take a new engine or part only if they have to do it.

    1. Jelle van der Meer (@)
      15th September 2022, 13:57

      Problem is the double penalty for someone whose engine blows up during the race, he is out of that race needs a new engine and gets an extra penalty.

      Also there will be cases like Silverstone and Hungary 2021 whereby engines/parts get damaged due to crashes caused by other drivers/teams – would be odd to penalize a driver who was not at fault after he already was taken out of the race.

    2. @macleod @jelle-van-der-meer
      Furthermore, another issue would arise as addressed here: https://youtu.be/E-PHOFxA0Ng?t=352

    3. @macleod Thing with docking constructors points is that it would have a far greater impact on the smaller teams as the mid-field tends to be much closer so while docking 25 points from a Red Bull, Ferrari or Mercedes would have no impact this year but it would be a big hit for the smaller teams. Losing 25 points would drop Haas from 7th to 9th in the constructors which is a huge loss of prize money at the end of the year, Something the smaller teams cannot afford. Even dropping 1 place in the constructors is costing those teams potentially a few million in prize money.

      Plus is it fair for a customer teams to take a points/financial hit for something that is outside there control? They are paying to be supplied with the engines so something going wrong with an engine isn’t anything to do with them (Well unless it’s caused by accident damage).

      If you had a points or financial penalty for engine changes based off 2022 I think you would be putting Haas out of business given how unreliable the Ferrari power unit has been. And again it’s something completely outside of there (Haas) control.

    4. @jelle-van-der-meer, @jerejj, @roger-ayles – If we don’t want to punish the smaller teams the penaulty could be (total points they have / 20) as penaulty this means the bigger teams with more money get more punished.

      Or just don’t give grindpenaulties but seconds on their time so Max had 5 places grind penault would be 5 seconds penaulty done with their first pitstop or if they due red flags don’t have to stop and the end.

      So Lewis had all parts replaced must start on the back will be changed into 40 seconds (more then the parts swaped) So everyone will start where they qualified but get docked second later during pitstop.

      1. I guess 30-40 sec in race penalties are the only way to make it challenging for verstappen to come back atm, would’ve been more interesting in spa with that.

  10. Rather than grid penalties, only allow engine replacements beyond the three where the driver has retired from the previous event for a mechanical issue or a crash which has compromised the integrity of the engine.

    Grid penalties are not a strong enough deterrent when a driver can absorb the penalty and carve through the pack with a fresh engine. They need to incur actual pain to their points total.

    It doesn’t rule out tactical retirements, but it makes it so that a team would only consider it when their driver is out of the points in a race.

    1. @davids I think your point about a grid drop being a weak deterrent is valid. Especially since the new rules allow greater opportunities to follow and overtake compared to the previous set of regulations. The way that Max cruised up the field in Belgium and Italy demonstrates that a grid penalty to him doesn’t make a huge difference, even without the help of a safety car to bunch the pack back up mid race.

      I would seriously consider points deductions, possibly only the constructors rather than the drivers. Undecided whether relative versus collected points or absolute points, both have merits. Relative point deduction would probably be better but points down to 20th would be needed to make it meaningful to slower teams.

      Not sure allowing free swaps for mechanicals or crashes works. No incentive to build reliability into the engine or keep the car on the road at all costs.

    2. @DavidS, your idea about only allowing replacements when a car had an engine failure in the previous race is a sensible one, but unfortunately they tried that a few years back and it the teams ruined it. It was in the time when engines were expected to last two races, which seems extravagant today, but top teams were used to using three engines in a weekend and thought making an engine last two races was draconian. So we’d regularly have drivers running around in P10 or lower (when only the top 8 scored points), retiring the car two laps from the end and claiming “mechanical failure” so that they could have a new engine for the following race. That highlights the problem with F1, that teams want rules, but whether it si construction regulations or sporting regulations, they don’t respect the spirit of the rules and are more interested in finding clumsily-worded phrases that they can pick apart and exploit. Call me old-fashioned, but I’d rather see teams spend money on engineering than on lawyers.

      1. I know the teams will still game the rules by “pretending” to have a mechanical failure. The deterrent here is that you have to throw away a race result to do it. If a car is outside of the points in a race and fakes a retirement, does it really matter?

  11. I think the drivers are totally right…

    Engines and gearboxes should become part of the cost cap, and let the teams decide how disposable they are…

      1. I understand your concerns, and yet they are all just math and accounting. Its no different that brake discs or any other part being outsourced… just more complex. And plus, the changing rules for simpler powerplants in 26 makes it a good time to adjust the rules.

  12. I think there are a number of key issues with the current regulations.

    1. The teams get to choose when they take the penalties so they’re all picking the same races where they perceive they will be least disadvantaged. Nobody is taking an engine penalty in Monaco for example
    2. The actual penalty for a front running team is far less than for a midfield team as the top teams just breeze through the first half of the grid while midfield runners can’t make as easy progress.
    3. A car that must start from the back of the grid is allowed to still partake in qualifying and can directly influence the result.

    For option 1 I’m not sure there is much that can be done unless you restrict teams from taking penalties at specific circuits.
    On option 2 a variable penalty based on the teams performance is not really in the spirit of F1 but if there were for example budget penalties this would at least affect bigger teams more than the smaller teams to offset the lesser penalty they actually face. An example of this is if a team was penalised 5 million off the budget for each engine they used over the limit that wouldn’t really affect a small team using half the budget cap but for a top team running close to cap that would be a massive problem that would require other sacrifices to their development plans potentially.
    With option 3 I think if you’ve got a penalty prior to qualifying that mandates you start from the back of the grid or pit lane then you should not be allowed to partake and hence influence qualifying.

    1. i like #3 a lot. and if two drivers have to get a back of grid penalty, the first to announce it gets P19 and the other P20, for example.

  13. I’m generally okay with the present PU element allocation penalty system & disagree with Ocon on increasing the component allocation upper limits.
    Teams would nevertheless continue gaming the system & by using more components than now, which would contradict the sustainability intention.

    1. I forgot to add, PUs under the budget cap would address this issue to an extent.

  14. Relaxing the rules is what led to Monza. Rb for instances know they can take 5 grid penalties on certain tracks and still win and at the back some know they are starting near the back anyway.

  15. No need for such a big fuss, it only happenned at the Italian GP. Generally, we have no doubts.

  16. From here, I only see two paths:

    Either we cancel the “X units per season” rule altogether, or we make it MUCH tougher, so that it actually does what it was designed to do: that motorists build reliable engines.

    The way it is now, manufacturers prefer to make an engine that has to be replaced more often even if it means penalties, because the penalties are so small that for most they are no more than a minor annoyance. Put bans of 1 race for each engine that exceeds the limit, and no one will exceed the number of engines that the rule says.

    We all know that both solutions are “economically undesirable” even though (at least for me) they are the fairest from a sporting point of view, so I am sure that F1 does not consider either of these two things. They will go for an intermediate solution, that although it will look “optimal” for the current moment, it will be obsolete in a couple of years, but it will continue to be used until, again, the drivers and the fans protest again.

  17. The penalty rule is a bit strange but I don’t think there is really a better alternative, except perhaps penalising drivers further if they are relegated to a starting position worse than 20th. Maybe if a driver should start 21st-25th, they are given a five-second penalty before the race begins as well as starting from the back, while 26th-30th could be a ten-second penalty, 31st-35th a drive-through and 36th or worse a ten-second stop-go penalty. I personally don’t like the idea of taking away constructors’ points.

    1. @f1frog

      Maybe if a driver should start 21st-25th, they are given a five-second penalty before the race begins

      They did have this rule – or something similar to it – in the first year the V6 hybrid turbo regulations were introduced. The stricter rules were watered down over time, partly due to the huge penalties Honda racked up in the first years after they returned when their engines were very unreliable.

    2. Frog, it bugs me too that a driver who knows he is already starting in 19th place can take a huge engine penalty knowing it is meaningless. I am in favour of the idea that drivers taking engine or parc ferme penalties should automatically have to start from the pit lane, but I also think those sorts of penalties should carry over too, so if your penalties mean you should be starting from 27th on the grid, then you start at the back and have another 7 place drop still to be served in the next race.

      1. And starting at the back doesn’t really mean that when there’s many others with penalties, with verstappen who started at the back, as in 13th in spa!

  18. Maybe a detail but Max/RB knew their position while the Media and others didn’t know how to apply the rules. For me another example of their dedication and this is one of the reasons why RB is leading the championship you have to understand the rules. It took some time to announce the grid but the rules where applied and the penalty’s served so no issue there.
    Do we really need engine penalty’s is another question. If you ask me the answer is no. What is the point of agreeing on a maximum number of components if you know at the start of the season you will use more and just take the penalty’s.

    1. Good call. This is their full time job, what is their excuse for not knowing how the game is played? Ross Brawn and Michael Schumacher always had a leg up on others on this point as well. Knowing the rules of a sport like F1 is crucial if you want to maximize opportunities.

  19. It doesn’t mean much that ‘the FIA released its provisional grid almost four hours after the session ended.’ At the Dutch Grand Prix they also didn’t publish the provisional grid until 19:00 (the qualifying started at 15.00). Not because they had to sort through half a dozen grid penalties, but for the same reason it always takes them a while: scrutineering. The technical delegate didn’t publish his report until 18:43, after which it took only minutes to publish the grid.

    Even at Monza, the grid was not complicated. It took some working out, but I don’t buy for a second that these drivers couldn’t find anyone in the team to explain it to them. These teams are not as easily fooled as a random TV ‘personality’. If this is part of a campaign to get the rules changed… why? If these were title contenders I’d understand them wanting more engines, but for these midfielders the penalties are actually a good chance for points; see De Vries and Williams taking a great starting position thanks to all these penalties. A midfield team that can go ‘out of sync’ on their penalties and stand a good chance of taking some points.

    Or just make better engines; Toyota can race 5200 kilometers non-stop on one engine.

    1. You make it sound so simple! There is a trade off between reliability and power. You need oodles of power to spare to keep reliability ala Mercedes 2014-2020

      1. There is a trade off between reliability and power.

        Exactly, and as usual the drivers want all the benefits (wins, titles) of getting it right but none of the downsides of getting it wrong (retirements, excessive parts, penalties).

        This is the same across the board, from track limits (‘it’s important but my lap was fine’) to yellow flags (‘I saw it and lifted’) to racing (‘the corner was mine, he had to yield’, or, ‘he pushed me off, he should give the position’).

        The FIA shouldn’t pay too much attention to the complaints of the drivers.

  20. I wonder if the engine limit helps save money or not. A huge amount of the cost of an F1 engine is the R&D cost, not the manufacturing cost. If you limited teams to one engine per season, it would still cost the same to design and build it, and maybe even push the cost up further since they’d have to invest even more in reliability. There would be no economy of scale. I’d rather see the sport divorce engines from the teams, and say to engine builders that if they want to be in F1 then they have to be prepared to supply engines to a minimum of six cars/three teams, at a fixed price of $$$$ per year, i.e. no special deals for one team over another.

  21. What I dislike most about the engine penalties is that they are used strategically as if it is perfectly acceptable. They don’t say “we regret we have failed to meet our engine reliability requirment and sadly we have been penalised”. Instead they say “we know the rules say our engine is supposed to last but we’ll get a better result if we commit a foul, put in a new engine, and get a speed benefit over those who are abiding by the intention of the rule”.

  22. Maybe the constructors championship should be split into two parts, the chassis constructors championship and the engine suppliers championship. If a driver exceeds his engine allocation, it doesn’t affect his WDC scores or the chassis scores, but the next 25 points he scores do not count towards the engine championship. Perhaps engine builders would be more inclined to charge lower prices to teams if they were getting a share of the WCC pot at the end of the season.

    1. That might be lame but I think the PU constructors championship is an interesting idea although there are an uneven number of entries per PU builder. Indy has this but there are only two engine builders in the series. Also Indy gives points for pretty much anything.

  23. I guess that’s just what happens when half the grid is taking penalties. I do y think there is a good solution for this. If more changes will be allowed the teams will react and take greater risks regarding PU reliability. If changes aren’t penalized the spending will go way up and Mercedes or Red Bull will be buying the championship wins with even more certainty.

  24. Dear Esteban, problem is that once you allow teams to use 4-5 PU’s per year, they’ll end up using 7-8 instead of 5-6.

  25. I have an idea, potentially combinable with one of the ideas proposed earlier: either begin by applying the penalty to the driver at the front or the driver at the back, and then proceed with the application of penalties sequentially until reaching the other end of the grid.

    Both directions have benefits and drawbacks, but to me it’s simpler to explain to journalists, stewards and other people in the paddock how it works – meaning that even if the audience is struggling to figure out what’s happening, someone will be able to confirm what’s happening within about 5 minutes of qualifying ending. Then the FIA drawing up the grid can go back to being a formality.

    (It does not help that when the rules for engines were originally agreed, the 3 engines were only meant to do 18-20 races, depending on which part of the architecture is under discussion. The extensions mean that the engines simply aren’t designed to do 22-24 races, so the whole concept of congratulating oneself for completing a season on the correct load is out of the window. Even if a team wanted to, it probably couldn’t without deliberately throwing some races – either through retirement or excess deliberate slowness).

    1. (I’d be inclined to permit an extra engine for 2023, simply to preserve the proportionality intended by the original version of the engine regulation. Since the teams cannot do significant engine upgrades now until 2026, they’re locked into failure otherwise. Of course, if the excessive fees to circuits or exceptional world circumstances mean that some races drop out, that extra engine can be revoked).

  26. Ah. F1.

    Where rules are made to please the teams and the fans.

    Where when rules are kept everyone whinges.

  27. For me, this is easy to fix. Penalty is a percentage of constructor points. Then the racing doesn’t suffer, the team does.

  28. “Hamilton raced his way to fifth from the back”

    Hamilton didn’t race his way – he drove his way. He just overtook drivers who drive slower cars. Nothing racey about that.

  29. If an F1 power unit costing somewhere around $10,500,000 cannot manage 3,000 competitive KMs, there is a sustainability issue that needs to be penalised. F1 team sport with an annual budget of US$140-160 Million ( for the top teams) cannot go back to the days of throwing in a new engine for every session. Those days are gone. Drivers will always moan. Suck it up & get on with the racing.

    Order in which the replacements are notified to the FIA is the key. Perhaps if the TV can show a neat little graphic demonstrating how the penalty place drops are applied, in the time sequence order the various component replacements are notified to the FIA, people would understand what’s going on.

  30. I suggest a fairer way to penalise teams whose power unit suppliers have poor reliability, rather than unfairly penalising drivers (& potentially resulting in the best driver / best car combination undeservedly failing to win the world championship) would, be as follows:
    In a similar way to how successful teams are handicapped by not being allowed as much wind tunnel time, etc. as the less successful teams, a huge financial fine could be levied on the team whose car requires a power unit element change & the resultant monies distributed to the nine other teams (added to their permitted, cost-cap-limited budget), with each share being inversely proportional to their points total in the team’s championship at the time of the fine being levied.
    By giving rival teams such a significant advantage, surely such a system would be a massive incentive to encourage the fined team to put significant pressure on their power unit supplier to improve reliability & therefore eventually reduce power unit costs.

  31. Stop penalizing the drivers when the team is at fault.

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