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F1 seeks fan guidance on grid penalties

NEWS STORY
30/12/2018

In the eyes of many, since their introduction grid penalties have done more harm than good, a driver taking on a new component through no fault of his own, also taking a penalty that effectively ends his hopes in a race before it has even got underway.

While component changes and misdemeanours have to be 'punished', the sport is aware that the current system is far from perfect, such as the ludicrous situation in Russia whereby five drivers - including both Red Bull drivers - knowing that they had penalties, opted not to run in Q2, thereby making that phase of the session totally redundant. This, following the equally stupid sight of the drivers heading down the pitlane for the start of FP1 ten minutes early as officials sought to determine the order in which their penalties would be applied.

Though the sport's powers-that-be have for years ignored fans calls for less reliance on aerodynamic grip and more reliance on mechanical grip - we won't even touch on the thorny subject of engines or power units - they are seeking assistance with grid penalties.

Using its 'F1 Fan Voice' community, F1 has called on fans to suggest an alternative to the current grid penalty system.

"Research conducted by Formula 1 shows that fans are not satisfied with the existing grid penalties system," reads the survey intro, in a masterpiece of understatement. "Hence, Formula 1 would like to understand your view on some alternative options.

Fans are then advised that while voting for alternatives to grid penalties, the new method must be; simple to understand, a temporary set-back for the driver, must not encourage drivers to avoid running in qualifying and not be financially related.

The alternatives offered - fans are not given the opportunity to provide their own solutions - are:

Applying a stop-go penalty during a pit stop in the race - the penalty to be taken at any time during the race

Removing access to DRS during qualifying, thereby increasing lap time and resulting in a lower grid position due to reduced straight line speed - though if the penalty was incurred during qualifying, it would be applied in qualifying at the next race.

Applying a points deduction, either to the driver or team depending on who was responsible for the infringement.

Reducing free practice time at the next race - though if a driver incurred the penalty during qualifying, it would be implemented at the next race weekend, thereby reducing preparation and set-up time for the race.

Reducing fuel flow or electrical energy during qualifying - which, again, if the infringement occurred during qualifying, it would be applied at the next race.

Reducing the number of tyre sets available during practice for the race weekend, thereby reducing the ability to understand tyre characteristics.

Adding ballast to the driver's car during qualifying, which, again, would increase lap time, resulting in a lower grid position.

And finally, reducing the amount of permitted wind tunnel testing, thereby impacting aerodynamic development for the rest of the season.

Naturally, the option of allowing drivers (and teams) more engines and components isn't even on the table.

While it's good to see fans offered their say, especially on an issue which causes so much frustration to fans and drivers, the sceptic in us cannot help but recall the words of Mark Twain, in that "if voting made any difference they wouldn't let us do it".

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READERS COMMENTS

 

1. Posted by C5, 04/01/2019 20:54

"Team infractions and mechanical parts WITHIN the total allowance: Deducting a percentage (rounded to the nearest lower integer) of accumulated constructor's points. Being a percentage of accumulated points rather than a specific number will equalize the de-facto impact between successful and less fortunate teams.

Mechanical parts OUTSIDE the total allowance: Same as above, but with additional grid penalties to discourage "safety" changes at the end of the season that would give the driver the unfair advantage of fresh components.

Driver infractions: Deducting a percentage of accumulated drivers's points as well as grid and time penalties. Penalties to be more severe than the ridiculously insignificant penalties applied today, and include race bans in case of severe or repeated lapse of judgement.
"

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2. Posted by Uffen, 01/01/2019 19:12

"The FIA should look at F1's own history and allow that the "natural" penalty for mechanical failure is penalty enough. All that is required is that the power unit or gearbox in question be allowed to actually fail in use. No more changes "on spec" or based on computer forecasts. The loss of qualifying time, race position, points etc. is sporting penalty enough. There is also the financial penalty to contend with, both from repairing/replacing the failed part and losing Concorde bonus money. And, the fans may get a little variety in grid position and race results out of the situation!"

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3. Posted by 13013, 01/01/2019 16:08

"I agree with 'Ro' and 'george'. There never should have been driver grid penalties for using excess power unit components. This is a team (or engine manufacturer) issue; the team should be penalized, not the driver. Fans don't want to see the drivers penalized for something over which they have little or no control. Look at poor Ricciardo last year. How does the FIA and Liberty not understand this basic concept? Deducting manufacturer championship points, or fining the team seems to be the right solution to me. Grid penalties should be reserved for driver infractions, e.g. dangerous driving."

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4. Posted by raven49, 01/01/2019 14:57

"The suggestion by "Ro" seems to be one of the best - when going over the limit for replacements (the number allowed should be increased anyway-costs for developed items can't be as significant as the development costs) the driver qualifies, races and earns points based on finish - the fans get to see real races. If a car, over the limit on replacements, finishes first, award manufacturer points for 3rd (this could have two manufacturers getting third place points which is ok). The driver gets the first place points he earned.
As for costs - what is the cost of manufacturing five engines vs the development costs for three, or four? You are still designing to the limits but if you need to go over, a 2 place finish penalty is still incentive to meet the rule.
"

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5. Posted by george, 01/01/2019 5:14

"that's simple, only for dangerous driving should there be grid penalties. "

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6. Posted by imejl99, 31/12/2018 14:00

"Set the price list for PU, MGU, Turbo... Charge the teams for every piece used over limit, collect the money for the "Reliability prize pot", or just subtract accumulated fines into final prize money calc.

$1M per item should do it, so we never ever witness 75 grid places penalty ;)"

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7. Posted by Pipsary, 30/12/2018 22:45

"I do agree with 'Ro' it should be the team not the driver who gets the penalty, or why not add a time penalty onto the 'Cars' result at the end of the race! In by doing this it would encourage drivers to try and make up that lost time during the race..."

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8. Posted by NS Biker, 30/12/2018 18:38

"Have to agree with 79-626inHI.
Allowing more power unit components will reduce the effect of the penalties without impacting the drivers to the extent the current limits do. It also puts some financial burden on the teams and possibly engine suppliers, again without impacting the drivers so much.
Other alternatives can be cumbersome, will reduce the competitiveness of the racing or create effects beyond those intended.
My vote, allow more, not fewer, power unit components."

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9. Posted by 79-626inHI, 30/12/2018 17:36

"Thank you for alerting us to this survey. In fact, at the end of the survey they ask for individual comments so we can tell them what we really think. I favor allowing more power unit components so we don't have the ridiculous situation of everyone "racing" at reduced speeds in order to save components. "

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10. Posted by Insane Reindeer, 30/12/2018 17:06

"The penalty system as it is right now is perfect! Except for the fact that the penalties are never fully implemented. If a car picks up 15 places forth of grid penalties at one race weekend but only serves 5 at that race weekend then it will already have 10 to serve at the next one. If at the next one it picks up another 6 then they get added on. If at the end of the year a *car* still has outstanding grid penalties then the that car has to serve them the following season, regardless of what driver and/or engine it has. The same goes for driver infringements "

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11. Posted by Canuck, 30/12/2018 16:58

"What about if the loss of a component is due to an accident? Would the one that caused the accident be the one to incur the penalty? Example - the Hulkenburg / Alonso rear ender - had it destroyed the Alonso gear box - who would be penalized? Or a car runs over debris and crashes into a wall destroying Power Unit components, should penalties be applied? Are components designed to withstand large impacts? "

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12. Posted by Simon in Adelaide, 30/12/2018 13:04

"In my opinion there is only one option, the deduction of points; as for the other options ........... expletives deleted."

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13. Posted by Ro, 30/12/2018 12:44

"It shouldnt be the drivers who suffer the penalties. What about deducting points from the Manufacturer's Championship ?"

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