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Engine rules leave us all paying the penalty

NEWS STORY
11/09/2022

In the quest to introduce random elements of chance to grands prix, Ross Brawn and his team appear to have hit the motherlode.

In the aftermath of yesterday's qualifying session, TV pundits, the media, team bosses and drivers all appeared equally baffled as to the grid order for today's Italian Grand Prix.

With nine drivers hit with grid penalties, the only driver starting the race from the same position in which they qualified is pole-man, Charles Leclerc.

Such was the confusion, the FIA, the sport's governing body, they who came up with the rules, wasn't able to issue a provisional grid until 20:45, almost four hours after Q3 ended... and even then a "corrected" version was issued ten minutes later.

Having failed with the push for reverse grids, in a bid to introduce random elements of chance on Sunday afternoons, Ross Brawn and his team finally appear to have hit the motherlode.

"Can someone tell me in which position I will start tomorrow's race?" tweeted Pierre Gasly.

"I think it's P7, unless I'm stupid, but I think it's P7," said Max Verstappen.

"For a moment he said 10th, and then he said someone's got a penalty, or someone got a lap deleted, so now you're ninth," said Daniel Ricciardo. "And then he goes another one, so now you're eighth. It just got better.

"What he told me was fifth but now what the rest of the team tells me is fourth," he added. "So yeah, not sure."

The man who led the world championship earlier in the season, and is now 109 points adrift, starts from pole, while his teammate, and possible title protagonist starts from the back, alongside a seven-time world champion.

The reigning world champion, and mostly likely 2022 winner, starts from seventh, sandwiched between a rookie and one of the hardest fighters on the grid, while the team which pulled off the shock of the season here twelve months ago fills the second row.

With such a mixed-up grid, on a circuit where overtaking is difficult, DRS trains are inevitable, as Lewis Hamilton admits.

"I'm imagining everyone's going to be in a DRS train and it's just going to be sitting there and waiting for strategy and tyre degradation and those sorts," said the Mercedes driver after Q3.

"It's a one-stop easy, generally," he added, "so strategy won't do too much. I just hope that there's safety cars and all those sorts of things.

"I was thinking of taking my iPad with me in the race and when I'm in the DRS line just watch the new Game of Thrones," he grinned.

While we understand the need to restrict components as part of the curb on spending there have to be a better way than this.

After all , it's not even entirely random, what with teams strategically choosing when and where to introduce new components, opting for those tracks, a la Spa and Monza, where overtaking is possible, as opposed to Singapore and Suzuka.

Two of the last three races have been affected by these lotteries and there is every likelihood it will happen again in Austin.

Much is made of the success of Drive to Drive in winning over new fans, especially in the US, but should there be a repeat next month at COTA how does F1 explain to those new fans that their hero doesn't really start from the second row but the ninth because he took on a new MGU-H and MGU-K.

Be it penalties involving championship points or money, there has to be a more 'fan friendly' means of enforcing the engine rules... for at present it is the fans who are paying the penalty.

Check out our Sunday gallery from Monza here.

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READERS COMMENTS

 

1. Posted by elsiebc, 14/09/2022 14:04

"How about you keep the penalties as they are but end the strategic nature of adding components to the pool. A component must fail and no others can be available to you before taking on a new one."

Rating: Neutral (0)     Rate comment: Positive | NegativeReport this comment

2. Posted by kenji, 14/09/2022 2:00

"@ Mad Matt...AFAIK 'engine costs' are not included in the cost cap. "

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3. Posted by ian_w, 11/09/2022 12:40

"We'll know in about 90 minutes whether there is merit in just assigning a random grid order every race, perhaps weighted based on quali times (think the NBA/NHL draft lottery)."

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4. Posted by Max Noble, 11/09/2022 12:06

"So amusing… the rules are so prescribed these days that it takes days to workout the over-prescription. They have, after hours, correctly applied their own curious rules. Don’t get me going on who is still on three engines to “save money”. They all take tactical penalties for strategic gain, while compiling to the FIA rules. Love it…"

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5. Posted by Mad Matt, 11/09/2022 11:48

"It didn't seem particularly complicated to me, it's a little annoying especially when people take extra penalities strategically... but not the end of the world. In the end the team which produces the most reliable car gets an advantage and it's a team sport so both team and driver suffer when it goes wrong.

At least the cost cap means teams now suffer if they just take a penalty for fresh parts hoping they can then "turn the engine up" for longer.

Which means you can't only penalise the team as it's often the driver who benefits with fresher parts."

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6. Posted by rambler, 11/09/2022 10:26

"The days of owner driver are long over, the penalty should be to the team, not the driver. "

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7. Posted by prime, 11/09/2022 10:12

"this is the only way, it just needs a computer assisted model that calculates the penalties in real time, poor FIA "

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