Ferrari chairman John Elkann says the FIA needs to apply Formula 1’s rules with greater clarity following the controversies seen in recent seasons.Carlos Sainz Jnr was given a 10-place grid penalty because he exceeded the maximum number of energy stores he is permitted to use. The situation arose because his car was badly damaged by loose water valve cover at the new Las Vegas Strip Circuit. Ferrari unsuccessfully lobbied the stewards not to apply a penalty on the grounds of force majeure.
Elkann referred to other recent high-profile disputes over F1’s rules. Red Bull became the first and so far only team penalised for exceeding the budget cap when it was introduced for the first time in 2021. But their penalty, announced late last year, was regarded as too lenient by many, including Ferrari team principal Frederic Vasseur.
Red Bull driver Max Verstappen had already won the 2021 championship in controversial circumstances after race director Michael Masi applied the rules incorrectly at the end of the season finale in Abu Dhabi.
Masi lost his job at the FIA as a result of the error, another incident the Ferrari head referred to. Following the disputed conclusion to the 2021 championship, the FIA overhauled its race control division. This included the creation of the Remote Operations Centre to aid the decision-making process, the restructuring of its personnel and hiring of new staff.
“You don’t want things to happen like the 2021 championship, how that ended up,” Elkann told the BBC. “You don’t want to have situations like the ones here in Vegas, where you get penalised 10 places.
“So from the regulatory standpoint in terms of rules and applications and what we have seen with the budget caps, those are areas where you’d like to have more clarity.”
Two other teams were penalised for budget cap infringements last year not related to over-spending. The regulations were revised this year to better account for development work conducted by teams’ non-F1 divisions.
F1 plans to introduce new technical regulations in 2026 including an overhaul of its hybrid power units and the introduction of sustainable fuel. Elkann said it is important to ensure those rules are clearly defined and enforced.
“There are a lot of changes in how the evolution of technologies happen, the importance of being carbon-neutral,” he said. “Within that, being able to define clarity on rules and applications is important.”
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