SportF1The solution to the "void" in F1 grid delays

The solution to the "void" in F1 grid delays

While arguments about the pros and cons of the penalty system always seem to be at the center of the controversy, in the paddock they seem to be more concerned about the long wait until the FIA confirms the grid order for departure for Sunday, something that does not give a good image to Formula 1.

A nearly four-hour wait for the provisional grid to be revealed at Monza sparked massive social media anger and much criticism of the “old-fashioned” ways in which such things are still managed.

While it may be a matter of opinion, what the events at Monza have done is reopen a debate on what can be improved going forward in what understands will be an internal FIA review this winter.

However, the solutions to that problem seem to be quite simple.

The confusion of the starting grid for the Italian GP 2022 F1

At Monza, when the qualifying session concluded, the drivers, teams and also the media did not know exactly what the starting order would be for Sunday’s race.

Max Verstappen’s five-position penalty, who finished second in qualifying, made the Dutchman quite convinced of what his starting position should be.

“I think seventh. Unless I’m stupid. But I think it’s seventh, yes, you have to read the rules.”

However, the teams were not so sure, with some saying that Verstappen should have started from fourth place as he benefited from the penalties that Carlos Sainz, Sergio Pérez and Lewis Hamilton had also received and consequently set them back.

Speaking to television after the qualifying session, Fernando Alonso made a mental calculation and said that he was going to start from seventh position, the same one that Verstappen believed belonged to him.

Some journalists also made bold predictions about what the grid should look like, but were then forced to quickly correct it when official confirmation from the FIA came after a long wait.

AlphaTauri’s Pierre Gasly took to Twitter late in the afternoon to ask if anyone knew his starting position for the Italian Grand Prix race.

“Can someone tell me what position I will start tomorrow’s race in?” I ask.

The FIA finally published the starting grid at 8:45 p.m. (Though 10 minutes later, the governing body released a corrected version that removed the word ‘final’ from its document and wrote ‘provisional’ instead.)

For a sport as avant-garde as F1, which is enjoying a boom in all aspects, having fans, drivers and teams waiting almost four hours is not what should really be expected.

How does the starting grid system work in F1?

The long wait for a provisional grid to be published is due, in part, to the strict processes and regulations that this category undergoes every weekend. The official timing data [performed by the FOM] is transmitted to the FIA, and then the governing body goes through a designated system to draw up the grid.

On Saturday night at Monza, there were some rumors that the FOM had delayed the delivery of this data to the FIA, but certain sources claim that this was not the case, and that everything was processed normally. The international federation staff at the circuit are responsible for processing penalties to create the grid order, while checks are carried out to ensure that the cars meet the requirements.

Only when everything is in order does the provisional grid go to the stewards, for checking and approval before issuing its first formal document, the provisional grid for Saturday night.

However, some people have suggested that, in the hours after qualifying, several teams, one after another, lobbied the stewards on how the penalties should be applied in an attempt to move their drivers up the order.

The problem of the legal vacuum in the F1 starting grids

Interestingly, the FIA is not required to publish anything about the starting grid until a few hours before the race, and Saturday night’s provisional grid is just an informal arrangement. Article 41.5 of the FIA Sporting Regulations states: “The starting grid for both the sprint session and the race will be published at least four [4] hours before the scheduled start of the formation lap.”

Normally, with many races that only have one or two penalties, it is quite easy to draw up the starting grids, so the dependence on the international federation document is not that great. But when things get as complicated as in Monza, with nine drivers penalized for different reasons, the governing body has a greater obligation to give a definitive answer.

When that answer doesn’t come for many hours, and there is widespread confusion in the pitlane and among fans about how the grid will be interpreted, what McLaren boss Andreas Seidl has dubbed a “vacuum” ensues.

The director of those from Woking suggested that the delay in Italy in the final elaboration of the grid should be something that is discussed between the pilots and the highest officials in the future: “I accept it, it is a good idea that we should talk, just to avoid that void of having a firm confirmation of what the provisional grid looks like.

“I think it is something that we will raise to discuss it, because in the end it is not a big problem to put out a provisional grid,” he said. “Then we have to wait until the parc fermé is over, confirm the grid again and how we all left.”

With FIA President Mohammed ben Sulayem due to hold a meeting with Formula 1 officials and managers on Monday, there is a chance the matter will be dealt with fairly quickly.

An answer to the F1 starting grid problem

The solution to the lag problem is not that complicated, and a simple algorithm could be created to help produce what the grid should look like by the time qualifying is over. The FIA knows exactly how the penalty system works, as drivers are now sent to the back of the grid rather than applying penalty positions as new ones appear, so in theory it should be fairly straightforward to produce a preliminary document in the moments after the end of Q3 .

That document would have no regulatory value, and would always be subject to cars passing scrutineering, as would the provisional result of the race, but indicating what the grid should look like at that time would serve to avoid the confusion that ensued. in monsa.

A simple amendment to the regulations, to allow stewards to issue such a document to help inform the rest of the world, would in theory be a formality for all the benefits it would bring.

When Formula 1 and the FIA have done so many things right with the on-track show in the new era of rules, it is important that the series does an equally good job with its processes.

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