A brief rain shower on the morning of last weekend’s Malaysia Grand Prix left some parts of the grid wet, and for the drivers starting on the wet part of the grid, that’s obviously a disadvantage.
So when the cars were lined up ahead of the race, some teams started to dry the track. The only thing is, that’s expressly forbidden in the rules, which say:
“Other than by driving on the track, competitors are not permitted to attempt to alter the grip of any part of the track surface.”
At the time officials told teams to stop doing it, largely because they got away with it in the Japanese GP last year. But because it wasn’t considered a serious enough infraction it wasn’t reported to the stewards.
Force India was pretty miffed by this – after all, it is forbidden in the rules – and despite mentioning it to the FIA, by that time the race result had been made official so nothing was done.
Now, ahead of the Japanese GP, the FIA has clarified that the thing that was against the rules is still against the rules, only now they’re actually going to take action when people break it, which begs the question: if they weren’t going to bother enforcing the rule, why did it exist in the first place?
Force India COO Otmar Szafaneur welcomed the change but said if the same thing happens again he’ll escalate things further.
“Maybe next time we will protest. We will take it out of the hands of the people here and put it in the hands of the stewards and, if necessary, the Court of Appeal. If there is no punishment, then is there no incentive not to do it again.”
Despite the clarification, the FIA also said that there may be times when they will allow a bit of grid slot drying and that if that happens, they’ll let all the teams know.