Opinion: It’s Time For A Big Rethink On How Penalties Are Applied In F1 – WTF1

Opinion: It’s Time For A Big Rethink On How Penalties Are Applied In F1

I am currently running on three hours of sleep and a fair bit of caffeine, but after seeing the mess that Yuki Tsunoda is in, I felt like a rant. Earlier today, the FIA confirmed that Tsunoda had received a three-place grid drop for this Sunday’s Italian Grand Prix for failing to slow under yellow flags during FP2.

Seems fair, right? But this penalty isn’t really much of a penalty at all.

Apart from the two penalty points, which now takes him up to eight in the last year, it’s just another pointless sanction that will have absolutely no impact on him come race day.

That’s because Yuki already has enough engine penalties to put him at the back of the grid, PLUS another 10-place grid drop for reaching five reprimands this year. To me, it seems that this punishable behaviour can just be swept under the rug after the already stupid power unit element allocation system.

How can it be that we can come into the Monza weekend, just like Spa, and accept it as normal that such a huge chunk of the grid have a penalty in one shape or another?

Up until Carlos Sainz took a fourth CE of the season, and now starts at the back of the grid alongside Yuki and Lewis Hamilton, he had a 25-place grid penalty for a 20-car field but was still scheduled to start ahead of those with ‘back of the grid penalties’. It’s such a stupid set of rules.

Back in 2015, such an event was seen as totally insane, and WTF1 even ran a story on the fact Jenson Button and Fernando Alonso both had the same 25-place grid drop in a 20-car field. However, now, the idea of it is just seen as normal, and that doesn’t sit right with me.

So what can be done? Well, firstly, I think the whole PU elements limit needs to be looked at seriously. Of course, some teams have managed to build an engine that is reliable *cough* Mercedes *cough*, but when you have someone like Valtteri Bottas who is on his seventh turbocharger or MGU-H, when the cap is at three, something isn’t quite right. Maybe even adding an extra allocation on each element could help calm down some of this engine penalty madness towards the end of the season!

Then, the other offences, like in Yuki’s case. Perhaps the FIA should hold the power to carry them over to the next race weekend if they’re already past a certain number of grid drops. A penalty should do just that: penalise the person responsible for the offence. They shouldn’t be able to just avoid any responsibility just because they need a new part in their power unit or gearbox!

We see penalties becoming somewhat irrelevant for other reasons, too, like when Nikita Mazepin qualified last during the 2022 Spanish Grand Prix but then got a three-place grid penalty for impeding Lando Norris. The punishment didn’t have the desired effect, although Mazepin received a penalty point on his super licence.

In a championship that’s wanting to capture the hearts and minds of a new fanbase with a limited understanding of the sport and all its quirks, I feel it’s time to take a serious look at how penalties – for both power units and breaking the rule book – are implemented going forward.

Do you think the penalty system needs to change? Let us know in the comments.

16 thoughts on “Opinion: It’s Time For A Big Rethink On How Penalties Are Applied In F1

  • If you have a 20 place grid penalty and you qualify P5. You start P20. And the next race you have another 5 place grid penalty. (20 minus 15)

      • I am thinking about a reason why it shouldn’t be a thing… only reason I can think of is the last race/end of season debate…. Maybe then you can add 1 second at the end of the race per penalty point.
        But if I can think of this, the FIA must have thought about it too right?

        • Alfred Stephen says:

          Because backmarker would essentially be locked to the back of the grid all season. Imagine Latifi has 10 place grid penalty. I think by the time he got another grid penalty, he still hasn’t qualified high enough and often enough to offset the first grid penalty. Make it carried over only to the next GP, and you will not find any driver sitting during qualifying session because they know they will be relegated to the back of the grid anyway.

          • True, fair point. But if somebody else also takes grid penalties, he moves up again. Most of the people take the most grid penalties at a high speed circuit, so it would be the same again. Ah well, for now nobody knows anyway 😅 I think they did rock paper scissors in the FOM office.

  • Speciouspunter says:

    And yet, The frachise owners insist on “sprint races” to shake up the grid. i humbly suggest that the grid is more than capable enough to shake itself up. They just do not like the idea that it is an issue defined by the teams rather than something predicable and controlled by the managing body. The very moment the word “Franchise” entered the F1 lexicon, it all went pear shaped.

  • Why have engine penalties at all? They are “punished” 3 times for the same thing: once because the engine blows up, then they have to spend £lots on a new engine reducing spend on development given the cost cap, then punished for a 3rd time with a grid place drop.

    Penalty points on drivers’ licenses are also ridiculous – drivers should only get penalty points for dangerous actions within their control, not team-related things.

    Grid place drops make sense for infringements in practice/quali. Maybe if you’re at the back and get a grid penalty you should start in the pits, then each extra penalty would be 5 seconds added to the pit stop?

  • How about next to the grid penalties teams need to pay a penalty fee that goes into a FOM pot, and next year the total of that pot gets divided between the bottom 3 teams on the grid? You want a new engine component? Fine, you’re also helping your competitors next year.

  • Along with carrying grid penalties to the next like people suggested, maybe deduct championship points for the driver. This should stop repeated mistakes the drivers make (going over track limits, impeding, crashing into people, unsafe release from pits)

    • Alfred Stephen says:

      But unsafe release is actually the team’s problem. You can’t expect the driver to try and not waste any single milliseconds in pitlane, while looking left trying to judge the perfect timing to re-join the race. That’s why there’s always a mechanic whose job is to execute the release process. If there’s a penalty points, I think it should be constructor point instead of driver point.

  • The idea of the component penalities is to discourage teams from replacing so many things. Ok. But they still do, so they don’t work. Need a new turbocharger? Put a new one. If it’s halfway through the season, and you’ve used up your allotted turbochargers, put it in anyway. Half the field will be doing similar things, and if you’re already towards the back of the field anyway, all of a sudden that 25 place penalty actually promotes you because not only do you have a better component, but you’re starting further forward than you would based on qualifying results due to being ahead of those with back of the grid penalties.

    Maybe the FIA should just drop the place penalties after halfway through the season, but then set the starting grid by random draw.

  • Alfred Stephen says:

    Plenty of good suggestion here. My suggestion would be:

    1. Allow team to replace failing PU parts without it being counted towards parts allocation if it actually fails during race and resulted in DNF

    2. Make the penalty uniform. One part = 10 grid. Erase the “back-of-the-grid” penalty, and allow the grid penalty to be carried over to the next 1 GP unless it’s the end of the season. This will prevent bottom team from essentially being locked at the back of the grid because of the penalty all season. No penalty reduction for driver who takes multiple penalty for the same parts.

    Either that or eliminate PU allocation altogether. After all, PU allocation was devised before budget cap era. With current budget cap and increased reliance on aerodynamics, I doubt any team could afford, or be willing to go back to “qualifying engine” of yore.

  • Maybe implement some way of accounting for the extra grid place penalties that they can’t take? For example, if you qualify 10th but you have a gird place penalty of 15, you start last but you have to either take a 5 second penalty for the race or you take a drive through penalty while going to the pits.

    For components maybe it would make sense to be able to “use” other component allocations that you don’t need. For example, if you needed a new PU, but you’ve used up all your allocations, you could instead decide to have one less allocation for another part whose allocations you haven’t used up yet. But have the rule that you can only remove one allocation per other component, and if you then found yourself in a position where you ran out of allocations for the component whose extras you’ve already used up, you
    wouldn’t be able to do the same for that one, and instead had to take a penalty.

Comments are closed.

Share via
Copy link
Powered by Social Snap