This is what F1 and FIA need to change after days of chaos

More transparency

Ahead of F1’s much-anticipated cost cap announcement on Monday, rival teams and top drivers called for transparency as the sport faced its first major test of financial regulation.

But when the FIA’s delayed report finally arrived, there was nothing in it that wasn’t already known. Red Bull has been confirmed to have breached the rules during Max Verstappen’s 2021 title-winning campaign with a “minor passing”, but no figures have been released.

Nor was clarity provided on the potential penalties that could be meted out to them, or how long the next steps in the process will take, leaving more questions than answers.

Red Bull‘s immediate response, noting the FIA’s findings with “surprise and disappointment” and insisting that “our bid for 2021 was below the cost cap”, only added to the uncertainty.

The same can be said for the inconsistency surrounding penalty decisions, which has continued to irritate drivers this season. On many occasions, several hours passed before a result was achieved, while at Suzuka the stewards were able to decide on a title-defining penalty within minutes.

The sport was already facing question marks over credibility before new FIA President Mohammed Ben Sulayem took office following the 2021 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix controversy, and it seems little progress was made in the months that followed.

Taking the example of the cost cap, there must be a clear rule specifying what penalty is applied for each violation in order to remove any ambiguity.

Simplify the rulebook

Whether it’s track limits, restarting the safety car or reducing the points confusion that overshadowed Verstappen’s crowning glory in Japan last weekend, there have long been calls for that the regulations be clarified.

Mercedes boss Toto Wolff described the F1 regulations as a “Shakespeare novel” last year. Despite their usual bickering, Red Bull team principal Christian Horner agreed with his counterpart that the rules needed to be simpler.

Poorly written rules have also caused problems. The sporting regulations have been amended to state that “all” – rather than all – cars must be allowed to run under a safety car period following the mishandled conclusion of the 2021 season finale.

The FIA ​​admitted in its investigation into the events of the 2021 season finale that other regulations “would benefit from clarification”, citing that “different interpretations” of the rules “probably contributed to the procedure applied” by Masi to Abu Dhabi. At least it felt like a starting point.

Although race control did in fact follow the correct procedure and avoid a rushed final lap at this year’s Italian Grand Prix, an anti-climactic arrival of the safety car at Monza has sparked further controversy and debate. on whether the rules should be changed.

Meanwhile, Verstappen’s second world title was won amid confusion due to an anomaly in the regulations surrounding a rule that was changed after the 2021 Belgian Grand Prix was washed out.

This meant Verstappen got full – not reduced – points allowing him to be crowned world champion for the second time. It was called a “mistake” by Horner, who expects a review to follow.

With over 63 articles and 117 pages making up the F1 2022 sporting regulations, there is surely scope for simplifying some of the wording or the rules themselves.

Flexible start times

Adverse weather conditions have impacted the last two F1 races, with torrential rain forcing the start of the Singapore Grand Prix to be delayed, while last weekend’s Japanese Grand Prix was red flagged after two towers due to heavy rain.

The start of the Monaco Grand Prix in May was also delayed by rain and then failed to complete the full distance, with 64 of the scheduled 78 laps.

In Singapore and Japan bad weather had been forecast and yet on both occasions F1 proved unprepared and lacking a contingency plan. Just over a year after the farce of the 2021 Belgian Grand Prix which was controversially held for just two laps under the safety car.

A two-hour wait before conditions were deemed suitable for racing meant that only half of the Japanese Grand Prix was over, with 40 minutes remaining of the three-hour deadline.

McLaren’s Daniel Ricciardo has since suggested there should be more flexibility in race start times, inferring the sport could be more proactive in the face of known weather threats.

“Where I wish we could do better is – I know it’s easy to say it now, but we knew this rain was coming,” Ricciardo said.

“Even if you move it forward an hour, maybe we gain 20 laps at the start and you can still make it a race.

“It’s there again, let’s try to get something out of it. I know there’s TV and everything, there’s a lot of it. At the end of the day, we want to have a race.

Ex-FIA race director Masi has hinted at talks between F1 bosses over easing race start times following the scrapped Spa race, but so far nothing hasn’t changed.

Recovery vehicles

The FIA ​​is investigating the timing and use of recovery vehicles at the Japanese Grand Prix in response to drivers expressing their anger.

Drivers were furious after Pierre Gasly narrowly avoided a 200mph collision with a crane amid torrential rain and deteriorating visibility, leaving the Frenchman in fear for his life.

As well as placing some of the blame on Gasly for sprinting in his attempts to catch up with the field behind a safety car after making an early pit stop, the FIA’s only response was to state that the use of vehicles recovery under safety car conditions is permitted.

Gasly was not alone in his criticisms. Sergio Perez described the incident as the ‘lowest point we’ve seen in the sport for years’, while Sebastian Vettel claimed F1 was ‘lucky’ no one was seriously injured eight years after Jules Bianchi suffered fatal head injuries when he hit a tractor. under similar conditions on the same circuit.

The angry reactions from the drivers ultimately prompted the FIA ​​to conduct a “thorough investigation” to “ensure continued improvements to processes and procedures”.

A common sense outcome would surely determine that recovery vehicles should never again be sent to a live race track in such conditions.

After all, serious driver safety concerns — rather than a back-and-forth over jewelry — should remain high on the agenda.

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