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F1 eyes ballast alternative to grid penalties

NEWS STORY
20/09/2019

F1 is considering using ballast as an alternative to grid penalties for drivers who exceed the permitted number of engine components.

Ballast is used by a number of other series, both as a form of punishment penalty and also in a bid to level the playing field in the shape of a 'success penalty'.

With the current grid penalty system unpopular with drivers and fans, F1's powers that be are looking at alternatives.

As seen at a number of races, once the penalties are introduced the starting grid will bear little relation to the order in which drivers finished in qualifying, while drivers that know they are facing grid demotion will often play little part in qualifying, particularly Q2 and Q3.

Penalising drivers with added weight would not only ensure that the grid resembles the order in which drivers qualified, but would hopefully encourage drivers to still try to qualify as high up the grid as possible.

Referring to the current system, F1 admits that "among the disadvantages is that once a penalty has been applied and the car is at the back of the grid, or a car is at the back of the grid for other reasons, there is an attraction to make further strategic changes which is outside the spirit of the regulations."

Look at ballast as an alternative, it adds: "The advantages of this is that it is simple, and cars start in the position that they qualify in."

However... and in F1 there is always a however.

"The disadvantage could be that unless the commentators make mention of the ballast penalty during the race, it may leave spectators wondering why a driver is slow. It may also show a driver as being slower than his team mate when this is not necessarily the case."

It is further proposed that the amount of ballast would depend on the component being used and, over the course of the season, how many components have been used..

However, team bosses are not supportive of the proposal.

"I'm not a big fan at all of the ballast - not ballast success, but ballast penalty," said Alfa Romeo's Fred Vasseur. "I think it would be even worse for the race.

"At least when you have the penalty you start from the back it could spice a little bit the race but if you have the ballast penalty it would be even worse."

"I agree," said Guenther Steiner. "The ballast is more difficult even to explain to spectators, all of a sudden when a car goes slower than the other ones. I think ballast is not my preferred view.

"We need to find a penalty system that is severe enough that they start at the back or the position to find out. But at the moment I think it isn't working too bad, so I think I prefer this one than ballast by all means.

"I'd certainly agree on ballast," said Christian Horner. "I think we've seen in other categories that it doesn't work. It screws your whole weekend, not just the qualifying. The only shame about what we have at the moment is that it potentially robs the fans on a Saturday of seeing drivers going for a qualifying position.

"If we look at Monza, Max taking part for a couple of laps in Q1, not wanting to progress past Q2. I think if we could find a more balanced penalty than just straight to the back of the grid we should consider it, so that you are still encouraging drivers on a Saturday to be going for a qualifying position."

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READERS COMMENTS

 

1. Posted by nnails, 21/09/2019 16:36

"It just gets worse and worse"

Rating: Positive (1)     Rate comment: Positive | NegativeReport this comment

2. Posted by Stitch431, 21/09/2019 10:06

"Deducting points for the Constructors Championship is better. In case that is not possible: 1 race no DRS. It is more obvious and visible to the fans than extra weight."

Rating: Positive (1)     Rate comment: Positive | NegativeReport this comment

3. Posted by Roli, 21/09/2019 8:43

"I think that to penalise the driver for a mechanical fault is wrong. How about deducting points from the Manufacture's Championship ?"

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