Carlos Sainz Jnr, Ferrari, Las Vegas Strip Circuit, 2023

Seven troublesome rules F1 should fix to avoid repeating recent rows

Formula 1

Posted on

| Written by

Sports such as ball games have relatively straightforward rules which change little from year to year. Formula 1’s sporting regulations are complex and ever-changing by comparison.

Despite or perhaps because of this consistent tweaking, even during a season in some cases, problems remain. Grey areas need to be clarified, loopholes are exploited and bagging problem go unsolved due to fears any solution might bring unintended consequences.

The FIA’s enforcement of its F1 rules came under fierce scrutiny following the controversial conclusion to the 2021 season. The sport’s governing body implemented a new structure for its F1 operation which was intended to improve how it creates and enforces its rules.

However staff changes at the end of last season meant there are new faces in key positions. The FIA’s single seater sporting director, Steve Nielsen, left at the end of last year. Tim Malyon has taken the position for 2024.

The 2023 season saw a spate of problems which may recur this year if they aren’t addressed. With the days ticking down until the new season begins, these are the key areas Malyon and those supporting him need to address.

Lenient penalties

When Sergio Perez was fighting up the field late in last year’s Singapore Grand Prix, he attempted an ill-judged move on tenth-placed Alexander Albon into the tight left hander of turn 13 and barged the Williams driver out of the way. While Perez gained the position, Albon fell from a potential point down to 14th place.

Oscar Piastri, McLaren and Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes, Monza, 2023
Five-second penalties for collisions are common
After a post-race investigation, the stewards handed the Red Bull driver a five-second post-race time penalty, which made no difference to his race finishing position. Although his move had been illegal and resulted in a collision and a penalty, Perez had likely gained more than if he had stayed within the rules behind Albon and lost more than five seconds in traffic.

A similar incident occurred in the sprint race at Circuit of the Americas the following month, when Mercedes driver George Russell overtook Oscar Piastri at turn 15 by driving around the outside of the McLaren off the track. Russell did not yield back the position and was hit with a five second time penalty applied after the race, but he only dropped one position from seventh to eighth, holding onto the final point as a result – ultimately finishing eight seconds and ahead of Piastri.

These two incidents indicate a problem with the rules where the punishment for causing a collision and making an illegal overtake is not enough of a deterrent. It’s arguable that in both cases, Perez and Russell both ultimately gained more from their actions than they lost with their five second time penalties due to their overall time gain – and that should not be acceptable.

Stronger sanctions are available to the stewards and it’s no surprise some drivers began calling for their use last year.

Advert | Become a RaceFans supporter and go ad-free

Qualifying queues

The dangerous practice of cars queuing in qualifying in the final sector of the lap before starting their push laps has gradually become more and more of a concern over the last ten years in Formula 1. With drivers wanting space to cars ahead to have the clearest possible run in qualifying, a build up of traffic in the final corners has led to multiple near-misses over recent years.

Qualifying can see cars queue at the end of the lap
Ahead of qualifying for the Italian Grand Prix, race director Niels Wittich extended the maximum lap time for in laps during sessions to apply to all laps a driver completes in qualifying. While that appeared to avoid any major queues and dangerous close calls, it led to many drivers being summoned to the stewards for exceeding the time limit, only to be released without penalty for having been deemed to have driven within reason.

“The maximum lap time in quali was a joke this season,” assessed Ferrari team principal Frederic Vasseur at the end of last year.

“I think Russell went 14 times to the stewards and he never got a penalty. That means that either the rule is not good or the stewards don’t apply the rule. But it makes no sense to have a rule if you don’t take action when the rule is not followed.”

Finding a way to avoid dangerous traffic jams and keep drivers out of the stewards’ office after every qualifying session will be a challenge.

Track limits

As RaceFans explored last week, breaches of track limits remain the most common infraction in the sport, resulting in lost lap times in qualifying and even changing the results of races due to time penalties. Although the idea of ‘stay within the white lines’ sounds simple enough in theory, it’s clear that asking the 20 best drivers in the world not to stray out of bounds when the fastest route around the circuit regularly sees them flirting with the edges of the track surface is easier said than done.

Yuki Tsunoda, AlphaTauri, Red Bull Ring, 2023
Track limits are a persistent problem at some circuits
This all came to a head last year at the Austrian Grand Prix, when over 150 track limits infringements were noted by the stewards over the course of the weekend and countless post-race time penalties make a mockery of the sport. Even the stewards were left utterly unamused by the farcical situation, even stating in their penalty notice hours after the chequered flag that they “very strongly recommend that a solution be found to the track limits situation” at the Red Bull Ring.

In this instance, prevention would be a far better solution than punishment. But in the case of the final two corners at the Red Bull Ring – scene of the majority of infringements, it’s not as simple a matter of ‘just put grass there instead’. With the circuit used for motorcycle racing like Moto GP – which also runs its Austrian Grand Prix at the track – the asphalt run-offs on the outside of the two corners serve an important safety function for motorcycle riders and so installing grass on the outside once again is not a viable option.

Since the stewards began enforcing the white line rule consistently at the beginning of last season, track limits problems have been increasingly concentrated on specific corners at certain tracks. Better physical deterrents need to be found, but not at the expense of driver safety.

Advert | Become a RaceFans supporter and go ad-free

Losing lap times for causing red flags

Should a driver be punished in qualifying sessions for triggering red or yellow flags? This has long been the case in other series such as IndyCar and some F1 drivers have called for similar rules to remove the incentive for drivers to disrupt qualifying sessions in order to secure themselves an advantageous grid position.

Charles Leclerc, Ferrari, Monaco, 2021
Leclerc took pole in Monaco despite crashing in 2021
For years, IndyCar has deleted the two fastest laps of any driver who is deemed to have caused a red flag during any qualifying phase. From this year, Formula 2 and Formula 3 will trial rules which give the stewards the power to delete the best lap time of a driver who is believed to be “the sole cause of the issuance of a red flag”.

The rule is intended to avoid any instances of drivers gaining an advantage from causing a session to red flagged. As a stoppage means all drivers must immediately slow no matter where the incident occurs on track, a late red flag could prevent a driver from being beaten by a rival – such was the case in Monaco in 2021, when Charles Leclerc secured pole despite crashing at the exit of the Swimming Pool chicane.

Now in 2024, there will be a major difference between Formula 1 and its two main feeder series when it comes to this approach to red flags in qualifying. Whether it’s right or wrong to punish drivers for triggering stoppages in qualifying, surely the sport should apply the same rule across its three major tiers?

Parc Ferme in sprint rounds

One of the biggest consequences of Formula 1’s sprint races is how parc ferme restrictions affect the weekend.

Hamilton and Leclerc were both disqualified from COTA
Typically, the rules affecting what changes teams can make to their cars’ setup and construction only come into effect for qualifying – which is the penultimate session of a race weekend. However, during sprint rounds, qualifying is the second session on the schedule following the sole practice session on a Friday.

Currently, teams must commit to the set-ups they will run for grand prix qualifying, sprint qualifying, the sprint race and the grand prix itself on a Friday afternoon. This, arguably, adds to the challenge for both drivers and teams, but it is not without its problems.

After both Lewis Hamilton and Charles Leclerc were both disqualified from the results of the United States Grand Prix for excessive plank wear, there were calls in the paddock for the parc ferme rules to be relaxed to allow teams to make changes through sprint weekends and help avoid falling foul of the rules in future.

Other changes to the sprint format are also in the works for this year, such as ensuring the grand prix qualifying session always takes place in its regular Saturday slot. But adjusting the parc ferme rules in a way which cannot be exploited could prove tricky.

Advert | Become a RaceFans supporter and go ad-free

The red flag rule quirk from Brazil

A peculiar quirk in the rules was discovered during the Brazilian Grand Prix last year which caught out Daniel Ricciardo and Oscar Piastri.

Daniel Ricciardo, AlphaTauri, Interlagos, 2023
Ricciardo was furious after being caught out in Brazil
After both drivers suffered damage during the opening lap of the race, the pair pitted under the Safety Car for repairs. The race was red-flagged on lap two, with the field crossing the timing line in the pit lane to complete the second lap. When the race restarted, Ricciardo and Piastri were both deemed to be a lap down to the race of the field.

Ricciardo, who had otherwise had a strong weekend up to that point, was furious to have been denied the opportunity to join the restart on the same lap as his rivals.

“I think firstly, it exposed a flaw or something in the rules because I didn’t feel like we ever did a racing lap and then you already start the race a lap down,” said Ricciardo. “Oscar and I fell victim to that today.”

Although this is an edge case, it exemplified an inconsistency, as during Safety Car periods drivers can return to the lead lap. A rules fix for this will hopefully prove straightforward.

What is ‘force majeure’?

When Carlos Sainz Jnr became the innocent victim of a loose track covering during the opening practice session in Las Vegas, wrecking his Ferrari and forcing his team to install a new power unit, he had every reason to feel upset about the start of his weekend being compromised by something neither he nor his team could have foreseen. But when the stewards handed him a 10-place grid penalty for exceeding his power unit allocation, Sainz was livid.

Carlos Sainz Jnr, Ferrari, Las Vegas Strip Circuit, 2023
Sainz was an innocent victim in Las Vegas
His anger was not just due to his car being damaged out of his control, but that the regulations and the stewards did not allow for any mercy from a penalty due to the circumstances behind them.

“I’m surprised that the governing body doesn’t have the power to, in cases of force majeure, to overrule a bit in this kind of situation where it’s so clear that it’s something that is completely out of the team’s control, completely out of the driver’s control,” Sainz said.

“The rules, the governing body, the teams – I don’t know, I expected more from the sport in this situation.”

The Sainz incident sparked debate over how lenient Formula 1’s rules should be in extreme circumstances such as Las Vegas. Even many of Sainz’s rivals openly agreed that he had been a victim of injustice. But on the other hand, F1’s ten teams had themselves opted not to relax the stewards’ ability to apply a force majeure clause out of a fear that rivals would end up pleading it at every opportunity they could.

Although the question of when to apply force majeure seems a matter of common sense, there is no such thing in Formula 1. And as tinkering with the rules has shown in the past, even changes made with the best intentions can cause unexpected consequences.

Advert | Become a RaceFans supporter and go ad-free

Formula 1

Browse all Formula 1 articles

Author information

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...

Got a potential story, tip or enquiry? Find out more about RaceFans and contact us here.

26 comments on “Seven troublesome rules F1 should fix to avoid repeating recent rows”

  1. A good inventory of points to be addressed. Some originating from before 2023 making it all the more urgent to fix them.

  2. I think agree with most of them to be adressed before the new season. The Las Vegas force majour is probally not solveable a new ICE is a too much advantage without penaulties but it sucks for the driver and team. (money wise the track pays for any damage suffered)

    Also track limit is solved very easy by laying a band of grass or gravel at the outside so MotorGP still has their asfalt further safety. But for F1 cars get slowed enough to ignore offlimit.

    1. Stephen Taylor
      24th January 2024, 10:32

      A new ICE is not as big an advantage as it used to be.

  3. Good list ! I’d say lenient penalties and track limits are of top priority. The first one is easier to solve !

  4. Agree with most of these. The red flag situation is particularly urgent – you don’t want to incentivise drivers to keep going with damaged cars in the hope of a red flag. A simple change would be to stop counting laps once the red flag is shown, so the lap back to the pits and the one to the grid at the restart don’t count towards the overall race distance.

    On track limits, I don’t think the problem at the Red Bull Ring is as difficult as suggested here, it is simply a case of the circuit owners choosing their priorities. The extra chicane was installed on the run up the hill to slow the bikes down; it’s not out of the question that a similar solution could be found towards the end of the lap to remove the need for all the tarmac run-off at turns 9 and 10.

    Penalties seem to have become much more lenient in recent years – the two examples mentioned in the article, plus Hamilton’s five seconds for ruining Piastri’s race at Monza, were the most obvious injustices, but there have been plenty of other similar cases recently. I have previously argued for dynamic penalties with a ‘restorative’ element in the case of overtaking off track, so the driver loses all of the advantage they gained from the illegal pass in addition to a 5-second ‘punishment.’

    1. On those penalties, does anyone seriously believe that Gasly wouldn’t have gotten more penalties in the first half of the season if the Stewards wouldn’t have shied away of handing him deserved ones, because it would cause his insta ban from reaching the points limit to step in.

      And yeah, I agree that these “standard” 5 second penalties are not good. The stewards should instead give penalties that make sense given the situation, as you mention. If a driver passed illegally and then drove off to gain another 10 seconds in short order, give them half a minute. That way it won’t be advantageous anymore to just try to drive out a difference to soak up the standard 5 seconds and teams would tell their drivers to just give back the unfair advantages gained.

  5. Track limits, temporary TecPro in the relevant areas? Have to make it safe obviously.

  6. Lenient penalties : The stewards should use more of the 10sec and drive through penalties as they did in the past. The 5sec one should only be reserved for minor contacts with no significant consequences. The deterant must be enough so that no one tries an illegal move and just “suffers” the cost.
    A good example for me is the Las Vegas start, if pushing a driver at the start like Verstappen did to Leclerc costs only 5sec, a gap you can easily create until the next pit stop, I would have done exactly the same as Verstappen 10/10 times.

    Track limits : What happened to ‘astro-turf’ (aka fake grass) material? I remember back in 2010s it was around many corners, one time Hamilton picked it up and was dragging a big piece of it (Korea 2010 I think), but not anymore I think.
    Just use a less grippy version of that, any track can install it and remove it easily so it’s no problem for Moto GP and it’s flat, not like high kerbs that can damage the cars. Just put a big “slippery / non grippy” piece of it outside the last 2 corners in Austria and you’ll see how many drivers will suddenly find a more legal racing line.

    Losing lap times for causing red flags
    : No rule about deleting lap times needs to be enfored, because it’ll be kinda arbitrary to judge if a driver made an honest mistake or on purpose.
    Just tweak the rules so that in Qualifying, if there’s a red flag, the timer doesn’t restart at some point and then the cars can leave the pits, do an outlap and then start their normal laps… but instead the timer starts again only once the first car starts its timed lap. So in Monaco for example, if there is a red flag now, you’d need at least 2min on the timer for the restart in order for a driver to do an outlap and start the lap before it reaches 0 – in my proposal even if there’s 5sec on the timer, the cars can leave the pits when the race director gives a signal, do a normal outlap and once the first one crosses the start/finish line, then the countdown begins once again – that way we go from 2 wasted minutes to even if there is 1 second on the clock, someone can improove their lap time.

    What is ‘force majeure’? : In an ideal world there wouldn’t be any loose drain covers, but since we’re talking about F1 where we had 4-5 incidents like this during the past 15 years, a force majeure rule makes sense, only to be used when a team is definately not to blame.
    How to prevent teams from nagging to the stewards at every race for that rule? I don’t know, maybe give the teams only one chance to use that rule every year and obviously they’d have to have a reason (Statistically speaking we rarely see incidents like these more than once every year). So Ferrari could have asked in Las Vegas only, Mercedes at a different race and so on.. that doesn’t mean the stewards would grand every team their wish, they could deny 10/10 reviews, but at least the rule could exist and the teams could not abuse it.

  7. 1. F1 has lenient penalties because the old ones were considered too harsh. Whatever they do, people will be unhappy.
    2. Qualifying queues are easy to solve – but the best ways to do it are considered undesirable by many who have a very specific and extremely strict/unbending image of what F1 must be. Forever.
    3. Track limits have a few options – but at the end of the day, again, the real solutions are deemed to be undesirable.
    Tarmac runoffs aren’t going away and raised kerbs/physical deterrents are now considered too dangerous – the solution needs to be behavioural rather than physical (ie stronger penalties – the ultimate deterrent).
    4. Red Flag penalties aren’t really necessary IMO. They wouldn’t solve a problem that isn’t already addressed in other regulations.
    5. Parc Ferme for sprint weekends is fine as is. The pressure is on to get the setup right with one practice session – and those who don’t will learn their lessons for next time.
    Perhaps it’s time to offer the teams a choice – open parc ferme but no virtual testing at all; or allow them to keep digitally testing endlessly but with limited real-world testing capability… Actually, the teams have already chosen – the virtual world is cheaper, faster and far more flexible for them, which is exactly why they’ve ended up where they are now.
    6. The Brazil red flag was wrong, but also right. The only question is what is actually wanted – and it seems that this outcome was accepted when creating the rule. It’s far too obvious to have merely been an oversight, as first lap incidents are not uncommon.
    7. And as for the Vegas incident – you can’t just give one team a free new engine when something happens, because of all the performance benefits which come with it. It wasn’t a problem when engines lasted for one race – but now they have to last for 1/3 of a season, the benefit of a new one is substantial.
    As for the question posed above: what is force majeure? Not this. This was an engineering miscalculation.
    Spa 2021 was a good example of it, though…

    The biggest problem the FIA faces in F1 is that their decisions simply aren’t respected, directly leading to intense public and private pressure to keep changing their application – despite the FIA actually owning the F1 series and having the authority to run it the way they see fit…
    Most sports and competitors accept that the umpire’s decision is final, no matter how much you agree with it or what evidence you have to dispute it – but not in F1. Everything needs a court hearing and everyone needs to be correct all the time….
    The thing is – the rules are available to everyone to read, but only one organisation has the right to actually interpret and apply them. That the FIA allows third parties to affect their application of their own rules is both noble and weak in equal measure.
    Competitors will always push the boundaries – the FIA just needs to be firm and consistent: “These are our rules, we apply them. You accept our decisions or you can leave. Your commercial contract is not with us.”

  8. Very good list.

    I don’t understand the Brazil issue though, and certainly wouldn’t call it a ‘quirk’.
    Both cars were a lap down when the race was red flagged. I don’t see why they should be allowed to race a shorter race than the rest.
    They could’ve allowed them to ‘unlap’ themselves before the restart (which is often done), but I’m not a fan of forced unlapping and was happy they didn’t do that this time.
    Thus I can only hope for a rule change where (forced) unlapping is never allowed.

    1. Both cars were a lap down when the race was red flagged. I don’t see why they should be allowed to race a shorter race than the rest.

      Firstly – they don’t do a shorter race, they do the same race distance as everyone else because they overtake everyone to get that lap back.
      Secondly, it’s allowed under SC, which was the condition when they entered the pits – and why they thought (or at least, argued) that they should be allowed to get their lap back.

      Fair enough – you don’t like unlapping. Your preference.
      But a lot of people actually prefer to have as many cars fighting for positions on the lead lap as possible all race long – and the unlapping rule allows that competition and competitive depth to be sustained longer throughout the race. Because car racing, like every other sporting activity, is supposed to be fun…

      It’s not like they lost the lap due to simply being too slow to stay on the lead lap – they were only a lap down due to acquiring damage through no fault of their own.

      1. But a lot of people actually prefer to have as many cars fighting for positions on the lead lap as possible all race long

        Might be true, but that was not the justification for the rule originally. It was to stop back markers getting in the way of battles for position after a race restart.

        The necessity of the advantage those cars get will always be controversial.

        1. Might be true, but that was not the justification for the rule originally. It was to stop back markers getting in the way of battles for position after a race restart.

          That was one aspect, but so was the one I presented. Like everything, it was multi-faceted from the beginning – with the lack of competition in F1 a growing issue then, too.
          If all they wanted was simply to get backmarkers out of the way, then they’d put them straight to the back of the pack without giving them their lap back (as happens in many other series).

          I don’t think there’s any justifiable controversy in it. Competitors are either in the race or they aren’t – the lap counter is irrelevant. Only when they’ve retired are they no longer in the same race for position.
          I’m reminded of Adelaide 1995, where everyone was at least two laps down…

    2. Coventry Climax
      24th January 2024, 10:20

      Agree. The entire unlapping rule is a joke to begin with.

    3. I am not sure if what I say here is what actually happened, but perhaps those two were not allowed to leave the pits once the red flag was shown, while the rest of the field was (obviously) allowed to go back.

      This would mean that the red flag forced DR and OP to ‘remove themselves’ from the race earlier than the rest of the field and that is why they ended up one lap down, not because they actually needed to spend a whole lap in the pits due to repairs. (In the latter case, allowing them to unlap themselves would have indeed been unfair but they rightly felt aggrieved if it was the former.)

  9. Jonathan Parkin
    24th January 2024, 9:37

    The situation in Brazil wouldn’t have happened in years past. Take the 2001 German GP for instance. That race was red flagged on Lap 2 as well, the rule at the time being if a red flag was used in the first two laps it was a fresh race at the full distance.

    Why this changed I have no idea, but when Roman Grosjean crashed in Bahrain I was expecting this to happen, only to face palm when I heard people needing to use GPS to work out where everybody was

    Another rule I would like to change is when you have a red flag, it means the race STOPS. Including the clock. The ‘longest race in history’, actually isn’t had the stoppage not been included in the final time. In reality it only lasted 2:00:23 not over four hours.

  10. My tuppence-worth.

    5s: I’ve been fairly vocal in the past about my hatred of the 5 second penalty and penalty fishing in general. The current rules enable drivers to loiter on the apex in the hope of being forced off – and it is almost exclusively on corners with tarmac run off. I think 5s penalties should be for unsafe release and grid box issues (like ALO in Saudi) but I’d be much more officious on driver etiqutte penalties.

    Quali Queues: I’m not really bothered by these; I feel the drivers should accept they happen and either arrange it amongst themselves or stop complaining. I don’t think adding rules here is clear for the audience or solves the problem.

    Track Limits: I’d honestly give drivers one strike in the race then a 10 second penalty. If a driver is forced off then it should go to the stewards but if the driver was bailing out of a potential accident, then fair enough but if they stayed in the battle and gained an advantage then apply the full 10 seconds. We need to get back to treating the track limits like gravel – the tarmac is to protect the drivers and cars, not to increase corner speeds or avoid battles.

    Red Flags – Lap Times: I don’t like this suggestion. I want the drivers to be giving 100% on their final runs and if they make a mistake then that’s a shame but it’s factored into the excitement. For most q3 sessions the top driver gets 2 runs anyway. It’s not an epidemic, there are only a few examples where the driver who crashed gained an advantage and it seems another area where we add a rule with very opaque boundaries and complain when it’s used incorrectly.

    Parc Ferme: I’d remove parc ferme entirely. This was brought in to stop ridiculous hours from crews with unlimited budget. We’ve solutioned both via the curfew and the cost cap. On sprint weekends, giving one session then locking in the performance was always a half baked rule.

    Red Flag – Lap 1: This is another issue that’s arisen by changing existing rules with poorly thought out ones. In the 90s we simply restarted the race if it was within a couple of laps, that’s how most series operate. We should return to that, what happened in Brazil benefitted no-one.

    Force Majeure: I really felt for Carlos. Particularly when looking at the final standings where the he would likely have been 4th instead of 7th. But I think it’s a case of bad luck. I’d certainly expect the sport to perform better checks on drain covers – these issues happen too often, but if we put a rule in here then everyone will fight for every plastic bag that falls from the stands. It would open too big a window to effectively police.

    1. Force Majeure: I really felt for Carlos. Particularly when looking at the final standings where the he would likely have been 4th instead of 7th. But I think it’s a case of bad luck.

      I felt sorry for Carlos too. Maybe Ferrari will now do what they hadn’t done in previous years and support a rule alteration.
      Then again, they may just decide that it’s unlikely they will suffer the problem again, and they can sit and frown at requests from Mercedes/Red Bull/Aston Martin/McLaren who got the short straw this time.

  11. Coventry Climax
    24th January 2024, 10:32

    We don’t address injustice because there’s a chance there’ll be too many people putting in an appeal?
    We don’t address injustice because it happens too often?
    We don’t address injustice because it would be complicated?

    Weird logic.

  12. Excellent piece.

  13. I think the lenient penalties is the most important one here. Singapore was probably the most annoying one because Perez actually benefitted from crashing into someone, but Japan stood out to be as well, where Logan Sargeant just t-boned Valtteri Bottas out of the race at Spoon and got a five-second penalty. Sergio Perez later did the same to Kevin Magnussen and got a five-second penalty although he came off worse on this occasion. But if Lando Norris had really wanted to win that race, it seems that if he had done the same thing and just barrelled into Max Verstappen at Spoon on lap one, but in such a way that he would be able to continue just as Sargeant did, then Norris would have won that race because he would have got a five-second penalty and finished far more than that ahead of Piastri. Norris’ best tactic in that race would have been to wipe another driver out. What a joke!

    The track limits issue; I really do think that the current penalties are fine and the drivers should just get used to it and learn to stay within the white lines. If there were walls there, then they wouldn’t hit them, it is just that they think they can get away with pushing the boundaries, and with a few more years of these harsh penalties, they will learn that they can’t.

    Another issue I think desperately needs addressing is the changing tyres under red flags. The 2023 Australian Grand Prix was one of the worst Grand Prix I have ever seen. It also started with Alex Albon’s crash, and the safety car was rightly brought out. Mercedes made the tactical play to bring in George Russell for a pitstop, out of the lead. Then, later on, the safety car changed to a red flag because there was gravel on the track, everyone got to change tyres, and Russell’s race was ruined. It is ridiculous that one team/driver should have so much bad luck brought about because the system for bringing in red flags is so inconsistent and nonsensical (gravel on the track!). If that happens, there are two options. Either nobody should be allowed to change tyres behind the red flag, or the order should be taken to the lap the safety car was deployed. Because what happened just brought a huge amount of luck into what is supposed to be the highest level of motorsport in the world. Then the second red flag was even more silly. Two-lap restarts should not be allowed. If the race has to be stopped beyond 90% or so race distance, just end the race there. Any mid-race red flags should be followed by a rolling restart. Standing starts are for the first start only, but it isn’t fair for a 56-lap race to only be worth enough to set the grid for a 2-lap restart. And there needs to be better timing for choosing the positions, because it was also strange in Albert Park that both Aston Martins went off but didn’t retire so were able to go back to the front like nothing had happened, meanwhile the Alpines who also crashed but did retire were out of the order, and Carlos Sainz got a penalty for a collision that was then effectively struck from the record books. They should have continued that race in the order they were in, which actually means Nico Hulkenberg should have been on the podium for Haas, finally!

    1. Oh boy….

      The track limits penalties clearly aren’t harsh enough, as evidenced by Austria’s truly disgraceful show of disrespect for the rules and the series as a whole by the drivers. Either that, or their dangerously low level of competence – which would also deserve significantly harsher treatment than a handful of 5 second penalties.
      Russell’s choice to pit at Melbourne was a strategic gamble which nobody else thought was a risk worth taking. Not even the other side of Mercedes’ garage, which says a lot if it was such a great choice… It was also very early, being lap 8 of 58, and there were bound to be plenty of other variables (ie luck) thereafter anyway.
      You speak of luck as though it is an undesirable element in F1, when in reality is the opposite is true – despite the fact that many people struggle to admit it. Luck is literally everywhere and in everything.
      Why would you want the race ended with laps remaining, when it’s entirely possible to just restart and finish it under competitive conditions after the incident is cleared? Don’t you think it’s fair and right to allow the competitors every opportunity to complete the race as per the rules? And what about all the people that the races are actually held for – the viewers? Don’t they deserve to see the whole thing either?
      And in-race restarts should absolutely be standing starts when safe. The race isn’t over yet, so nobody should be given any competitive advantages beyond their track position – same as the initial race start, minimised as much as possible in the name of fairness to all competitors.
      Finally, the restart order at the end of Melbourne was correct as at the previous timing intervals taken prior to the red flag (as per normal, for decades, in pretty much every racing series). Sainz’s penalty was for a driving infraction that he actually committed – what about that doesn’t make sense? Taking the timing order for the subsequent restart prior to that incident doesn’t mean he didn’t commit a punishable driving offence.

  14. Lenient penalties – Stewards or race control should simply order a driver to let by immediately or at the earliest suitable opportunity like with blue-flagging situations & use more flexibility with penalty options rather than always resort to either 5 or 10-sec ones.

    Qualifying queues – I don’t see this matter as a huge issue for the most part.

    Track limits – More or less the same as before, so either use a suitable physical deterrent such as that in Bahrain or alter certain corners so that natural driving trajectory wouldn’t easily cause brief off-track excursions.

    Losing lap times for causing red flags – Adding such a rule to feeder categories is already bad enough, so having that in F1 would be wrong & in any case, sanctions should only ever come in clear-cut manipulation situations such as the infamous La Rascasse one, & of course drivers otherwise never cause a stoppage or caution on purpose, but always only either by a genuine error or car failure for which no one should ever get penalized in any case.

    Parc Ferme in sprint rounds – Whether parc ferme kicks in from the first competitive session or the last before the race, I’m indifferent.

    The red flag rule quirk from Brazil – That situation should’ve never arisen in the first place since rejoining the lead lap in race-stoppage scenarios has equally been a standard procedure, so a one-off exception was unjustified.

    What is ‘force majeure’? – FIA should alter the rules to allow for such flexibility in clear-cut scenarios that meet ‘force majeure’ by definition.

  15. Not sure I agree with the penalty being based on the outcome of the transgression. First, because for a long time, the standard has supposedly been that the stewards NOT take into account the result, and secondly, because I think many of the “just racing” incidents have turned into guaranteed penalties.

    For most of my life, the onus for overtaking has been on the driver doing the overtake– if I’m going to pass you on this corner, it’s my responsibility to ensure a clean overtake. If we collide when I’m overtaking you, it’s automatically 60% my fault. This is to keep me from barreling into the corner and giving you the choice of crashing, or letting me past.

    But now the standard is to leave a car’s width if the other car is mostly alongside, so it means if I barrel into the corner, and you don’t get out of my way, IT’S YOUR FAULT, automatically. I’m making a risky pass on the outside of the corner, and we make contact? Doesn’t matter– you didn’t leave me enough room. You get a penalty.

    Combine that with the concept of taking the result of the collision into account, and we’re in danger of heading back to the days when a driver could be handed a 25 second penalty to make sure they didn’t finish in first place.

    1. Coventry Climax
      24th January 2024, 18:19

      Boy, are you right.
      Combine that with the near prohibition to defend these days and the availability of DRS.
      And we wonder why we hardly see any decent fights and overtakes anymore.
      Ballestre days are back again?

  16. I think 5 sec penalties should be applied for unsafe release or pit incidents, not track action or unsuccessful overtakes. For all on track incidents, or abuse of track limits, they could apply straight out a drive thru penalty, or stop and go penalty if its a major disrupting mistake by the driver

Comments are closed.