The FIA reviewed the happenings in F1 Saudi Arabian GP and has implemented two key changes from Australian GP onward.

The happenings in Saudi Arabian GP threw some discussions at the Sporting Advisory committee and the FIA has come up with changes via a Sporting Directive, especially about the changes with regards to the Fernando Alonso penalty/non-penalty.

The Spaniard was initially handed a 5s time penalty for being too left on the grid box. This was a second penalty in two races as Bahrain saw Esteban Ocon getting one too. Considering the visibility being not too great, the FIA has widened the box by 20cm.

They have also added a center line to aide the drivers which will be trialled in Australian GP weekend and used for later on if it works well. The 5s penalty, meanwhile, for Alonso resulted in a larger penalty after a jackman touched his car during the pit stop.

He was given a 10s penalty post-race which handed the third place to George Russell, but upon an appeal from Aston Martin, the penalty was scrubbed. The team managed to prove that no penalty was handed for jackman touching the car at least seven times.

It brought upon the wording issue on the Sporting Regulation where ‘touch’ hasn’t been mentioned. There was miss-communication between Race Control in Geneva and FIA Stewards, but Aston Martin had a good case to get it rectified.

Now via a Sporting Advisory, the FIA has clarified that touching the car won’t be permitted going forward and that cooler fans can be used but they it cannot touch the car. Also, drivers are allowed to complete two different time penalties in one stop.

Here’s what it said –

  • For clarity and until further notice, in this context the physical touching of the car or driver by hand, tools or equipment (including the front and rear jacks) during any such penalty will all be considered to constitute work.
  • The use of cooling fans during a penalty is permitted providing any such fan does not physically touch the car.
  • As is already common practice, multiple penalties incurred under Articles 54.3a and 54.3b prior to a cars pitstop can be served in series at a single pitstop. For example, a 5sec + 10sec penalty can be served as a single 15sec penalty and so on.”

The FIA further advised that the Sporting Advisory committee also discussed about other Sporting Regulations which is not clear in words and could cause miss-communication in future. They will find those and implement the modifications where needed.

Here’s the FIA note –

Consistent with the transparent approach adopted by the FIA, a thorough analysis has been undertaken and conclusions drawn that will help improve the sport. The review centred on on-track infringements involving Car #14 (F. Alonso) of Aston Martin Aramco Cognizant Formula One Team (Team) and subsequent Stewards’ decisions, specifically in relation to the penalty imposed on Car #14 and the subsequent exercise of the right of review by the Team.

This circumstance arose due to a lack of clarity in the wording of the relevant regulations and conflicting precedents, which were exposed by this specific incident. The rule itself had been a point of discussion at recent Sporting Advisory Committee’s meetings, the forum in which the FIA, FOM and all the teams discuss and propose amendments to the F1 Sporting Regulations for approval and implementation in the FIA Formula One World Championship.

The review panel comprised representatives from a number of FIA departments including Race Control, Safety, Operations and Technical and members of the FIA Remote Operations Centre (ROC). The two key measures which have been implemented as a result of the review are:

  • The issuance of a Sporting Directive to clarify the definition of what constitutes “working on the car” (Article 54.4.c of the F1 Sporting Regulations) and how the regulation will therefore be applied by the FIA at subsequent Competitions.
  • The widening of the starting grid boxes by 20cm from this weekend’s Australian Grand Prix in Melbourne. A centre line will also be trialled to aid drivers in positioning their cars correctly during Friday’s Free Practice in Melbourne and pending feedback and discussion at the Drivers’ Briefing may also be implemented moving forward.

Additionally, several other elements are under discussion for potential further improvement. These include a review of other potential ‘common practices’ which may not be clearly defined or documented, and which may necessitate either a change of the Regulations or a Sporting Directive to avoid similar issues in the future, as well as consideration of the various procedures that lead to time delays in the event of late-race reports to the Stewards.

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