The grid arrangement in Formula 1 has often proved to be a real test even for the FIA recently. After qualifying for the Italian Grand Prix, only Charles Leclerc was absolutely sure where he would start. The Ferrari driver was fastest in the session and won the pole position. However, almost half of the competitors had penalties. Some had multiple penalties imposed at different times over the weekend in Italy. That is why it was not certain who would be on the grid where. Max Verstappen, for example, was simultaneously claimed to be fourth and seventh on the grid. In the end, the FIA announced a preliminary arrangement according to which the Red Bull driver would be seventh. The final version is announced about an hour before the competition itself.
However, the situation shed light once again on how complex the rules have become in Formula 1. Even the FIA is struggling to enforce them
Valtteri Bottas, for example, qualified 12th in Monza. The Alfa Romeo driver had penalties for changing components in his drivetrain amounting to 15 places on the grid. However, after applying all the penalties, the Finn ended up 15th on the starting grid – his move is actually 3 positions. Carlos Sainz received two “relegation to the bottom of the grid” penalties – there is no way they will both be enforced. Yuki Tsunoda had three different punishments, and so did he.
“The way the sanctions are currently applied is not only confusing, but it doesn’t actually lead to any real punishment for some pilots. And there’s no real consequence to scoring points from a top team,” noted Gary Anderson.
The ex-Jordan and Jaguar technical director indicated in his analysis for the-race.com that he had previously proposed a points deduction option.
“Thus, each team’s decisions to use additional elements in the propulsion systems will have consequences for the championship. However, this idea did not receive much support. How about a time penalty then if there aren’t enough places on the grid to get a real penalty? The difference can be charged as race time and served at the first pit stop – just like penalties for causing an accident or speeding in the pit lane,” Anderson added.
George Russell is one of the directors of the F1 Drivers’ Association and is among the most active when it comes to rules and their enforcement. He said after yesterday’s qualifying that the penalty situation was a double-edged sword
“On the one hand, we strive to have a more sustainable business model – to reduce the parts and engines used within one season. Starts are increasing and we are now in a position for 23 races (22 in 2022 – yr) to have 3 drive systems for the entire racing year. It’s normal to have problems at some point. I’m sure F1 will reconsider,” said Russell, who was sixth in qualifying but will be on the front row today alongside Leclerc.