These crooked rules and systems in Formula 1 need to be addressed

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Every season everything changes within Formula 1. This makes sense, because in a sport where technical development is the key to performance, the rules cannot be left behind. The fast train speed in which everything is changing means that quick choices have to be made. This sometimes results in a situation where one misses the mark.

If this happens, a suitable solution must be found quickly. Nobody wants to see the royal class turn into an inconsistent world with crooked rules. There are therefore a few things that F1 should actually look at in the coming years.

The inconsistent FIA stewards

The choices of the FIA ​​stewards were the talk of 2021. Hardly a race went by without the motorsport safety body having to intervene. Sometimes a penalty was handed out, sometimes not. A headache file for the teams, drivers but also for all followers of Formula 1.

In essence, the sport is about being the fastest driver on the track, if we consider all technical developments and issues such as tire management. This becomes difficult, however, when a driver has to think twice about the consequences of his or her action during almost every overtake, defense attempt or even during the warm-up lap.

It is often unclear even for the teams and drivers what is and what is not allowed. The FIA ​​stewards have the final say on this, as they ultimately decide whether there will be a penalty or not. The fact that so much confusion arose in 2021 is a sign that consistent action is hard to find. Or at least, it’s not clear enough.

Many drivers and teams argue for rules that are more ‘black and white’. Something is allowed or something is not allowed, no gray areas or loopholes in the law. That is of course easier said than done, but it is perhaps the most important item on the agenda of the F1 organization.

The situation around the race director

The Abu Dhabi Grand Prix will go down in the books as a title-deciding race with controversial and high-profile moments. Race director Michael Masi played one of the leading roles here, partly due to the radio traffic between him and Mercedes team boss Toto Wolff. ‘No, Michael, no!’, was heard as Max Verstappen was able to overtake Lewis Hamilton on the very last lap after the safety car was called in.

Behind the thrill of the onboard radios on the last lap is something that is fundamentally wrong. It is shocking that a team boss can telephone the race management directly during an incident. The race management should be independent and that becomes difficult when teams can send input in a split second, while a minute later decisions are made about possibly title-deciding choices.

Wolff later admitted that it should not be possible to just approach the race director. It is not a fault of Masi personally, but of the system whereby a team can put pressure on whoever is responsible for the most important choices during a Grand Prix

There is also some inconsistency with Masi himself, as with the stewards. One time he does forward an incident to the stewards, while another time, during a similar situation, he decides differently.

Engine changes and associated grid penalties

Anyone who uses more than the allowed amount of three power sources during an F1 season will be punished. As soon as a driver starts using a fourth engine, the driver must start at the back at the next Grand Prix. Anyone who makes a fifth (or in Mercedes’ case even a sixth) engine change after that fourth engine change will receive a much lighter penalty.

Mercedes showed in 2021 why that lighter sentence is not very fair. In the last races of the season, the German racing stable changed the combustion engine a number of times at Valtteri Bottas, but especially with Lewis Hamilton, the enormous advantage became clear in Brazil. Max Verstappen’s title rival took a mild five-place grid penalty in exchange for a new combustion engine, with which he was supreme and flew by everyone.

After a disqualification from the qualifying session Hamilton had to start even further back than just the five places of the engine change, but the ‘penalty’ for purely changing the combustion engine was made up in one lap. In theory, therefore, a team can choose to use a new ‘rocket engine’ every race, incur a lenient five-place grid penalty and regain the lead after a few laps. In theory it is a possible strategy, which of course should not be possible.

Track limits

The FIA ​​has never been so strict on the so-called track limits during a season. Already in the very first race of the 2021 calendar, action was taken after Max Verstappen overtook title rival Hamilton outside the track. There is still something to be said for this, but earlier in the race the Briton was able to do it undisturbed. He was not punished for that, because he did not overtake anyone. During some weekends, track limits were intervened more than a hundred times.

Usually it’s a harmless situation where a lap time is taken away and the driver gets a warning, but with hundreds of different limits in different corners on the circuits it quickly becomes a jumble of rules. Here too there is a gray area in the rules, as we saw during the Brazilian GP. Verstappen defended against Hamilton and both drivers drove off the asphalt. ‘Breach’ track limits, but no penalty.

When is it allowed and when is it not? It’s a question that really shouldn’t apply at all. Drivers should not naturally be able to gain an advantage by driving off the track. A solution that is welcomed by many F1 drivers is the construction of natural track limits, such as a turf or gravel box right next to the asphalt.

The penalty point system

Since 2014 there is a penalty point system in the royal class. Various actions, such as ignoring yellow flags or dangerously hindering a driver, can result in penalty points on the driver’s super license. Whoever ends up on twelve penalty points within a time span of 365 days, has to miss a Grand Prix.

The penalty points on the super license were introduced after Romain Grosjean caused a mass crash in 2012 and a race was suspended. The system should be a slap on the wrist for drivers who repeatedly cause dangerous situations, but penalty points are now handed out for many more offences.

For example, a driver can also receive penalty points for cutting a corner, a false start or for being in the wrong place on the starting grid. With this, a driver can be suspended for a few cosmetic mistakes, while the system is intended to guarantee safety in the sport.

Incidentally, no driver has ever been suspended by the penalty point system, although there is a driver who will come pretty close in 2022: Max Verstappen. The Dutchman can expect a suspension with a few minor mistakes or incidents, while part of his penalty points were not handed out due to dangerous situations. The penalty point system has good intentions, but it can’t hurt to see how the weather works the way it was once conceived.

Hamilton’s F1 future depends on FIA investigation after Verstappen title

It is still uncertain whether Lewis Hamilton will also drive for the Mercedes Formula 1 team in 2022. The Briton is reportedly making tough demands on the FIA ​​about an investigation into Max Verstappen’s controversial title win.

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