The straightforward answer to F1’s grid delay ‘vacuum’

However whereas the arguments in regards to the professionals and cons of the penalty system look set to rage eternally, one factor that the paddock appears united on is {that a} prolonged watch for a confirmed grid order just isn’t a great search for a contemporary sport like F1.

The close to four-hour watch for the provisional grid at Monza prompted anger on social media and criticisms about a number of the antiquated methods issues are run.

Whereas that could be a matter of opinion, what the occasions at Monza have achieved is re-opened a debate about what might be improved sooner or later and added recent impetus to what understands will probably be an evaluation throughout the FIA this winter about how issues might be improved as the game heads into 2023.

Moderately than delayed grid confirmations being a significant drawback that hangs over the game, the options are literally fairly straightforward.


Italy confusion

At Monza, as qualifying got here to a wrap simply after 4pm, drivers, groups and media had been at a loss to know for certain precisely what the beginning order could be for the race on Sunday.

Max Verstappen’s five-place grid drop from 2nd on the grid meant the Dutchman was fairly satisfied about the place he ought to begin.

“I feel it is P7. Except I am silly,” he mentioned. “However I feel it is P7. No, seventh. It’s essential to learn the principles.”

However rival groups weren’t so certain, and a few squads had been throwing round their predicted order for Verstappen to be shuffled again as much as fourth because of Carlos Sainz, Sergio Perez and Lewis Hamilton additionally shifting again.

Down within the tv pen, Fernando Alonso reckoned that he was going to start out from the seventh place that Verstappen reckoned he could be having.

Some journalists and broadcasters boldly made their predictions for a way the grid ought to shake up, solely to quickly be compelled to appropriate it when the official affirmation got here.

AlphaTauri’s Pierre Gasly additionally took to Twitter to ask if anybody knew the place he could be beginning

“Can somebody inform me by which place I’ll begin tomorrow’s race?” he requested.

Ultimately, it took till 8.45 pm for the FIA to subject a grid. (Though 10 minutes later, the governing physique issued a corrected model that eliminated the phrase ‘remaining’ from its doc and altered it for ‘provisional’)

For a sport as leading edge as F1, which is having fun with a large growth in reputation, having followers, drivers and groups being compelled to attend virtually 4 hours to be completely certain of the grid order falls far in need of what needs to be anticipated to be the norm.


Photograph by: Zak Mauger / Motorsport Photographs

How the system works

The prolonged watch for a provisional grid to be issued is partially triggered by the strict processes and rules that the game operates beneath each weekend.

Official timing information (which is finished by FOM) is handed to the FIA, then the governing physique goes via a delegated system to supply the grid.

There have been some murmurs at Monza on Saturday evening that FOM had been late in delivering this information to the FIA, however senior sources are adamant that was not the case and every thing was processed as regular.

The FIA’s personnel on-site duly work via processing the penalties to create the grid order, whereas scrutineering checks happen to make sure the vehicles comply.

Solely when every thing is so as does the provisional grid then go to the stewards, for a examine and approval previous to it issuing its first formal doc – a Saturday evening provisional grid.

Sources have instructed, nonetheless, that issues weren’t helped within the hours after qualifying by a number of groups – one after the opposite – lobbying the stewards over how the penalties needs to be utilized in a bid to maneuver their drivers up the order.

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The vacuum drawback

Curiously, there is no such thing as a requirement for the FIA to publish something concerning the grid earlier than just a few hours previous to the race. The provisional grid on Saturday evening is an off-the-cuff association.

Article 41.5 of the FIA’s Sporting Rules states: “The beginning grid for each the dash session and the race will probably be printed at least 4 (4) hours earlier than the scheduled begin of the formation lap.”

Usually, with a variety of races solely having one or two penalties, it’s fairly easy for the grid drops to be labored out so the reliance on the FIA’s doc just isn’t as nice.

However when issues get as difficult as they had been at Monza – with 9 drivers going through penalties for a number of causes – then there’s a larger onus on the FIA to supply a extra definitive reply.

When that reply doesn’t come for a lot of hours, and there may be widespread confusion within the pitlane and amongst followers about precisely how the grid could be interpreted, then it leaves what McLaren boss Andreas Seidl has known as a ‘vacuum’.

Seidl instructed that the Monza delay in producing the grid needs to be one thing taken on board and mentioned between the rivals and the game’s chiefs sooner or later.

“I settle for, it is most likely a good suggestion which we must always talk about, simply to keep away from this vacuum of getting a agency affirmation of how the provisional grid is,” he mentioned.

“It is a good suggestion, I feel it is one thing we’ll deliver as much as talk about as a result of ultimately it isn’t a giant drawback to place out a provisional grid. Then watch for parc ferme to be over, affirm the grid once more after which everybody else early how we appear to be.”

With FIA president Mohammed Bin Sulayem holding a gathering with F1 sporting managers and officers on Monday, there’s a likelihood that the matter might be picked up fairly rapidly.

Andreas Seidl:

Andreas Seidl: “I feel it is one thing we’ll deliver as much as talk about, as a result of ultimately it isn’t a giant drawback to place out a provisional grid … simply to keep away from this vacuum.”

Photograph by: Steven Tee / Motorsport Photographs

A solution to the issue

The answer to the issue of a delayed grid reply just isn’t that difficult, and a easy algorithm might be created to assist produce what the grid ought to appear to be the second the qualifying chequered flag got here out.

The FIA is aware of precisely how the penalty system works – with drivers now getting locked in for his or her grid drops moderately than subsequently shuffled again up as every penalty is utilized in flip – so it ought to in concept be fairly simple for it to supply a preliminary doc within the moments after Q3 ends.

Such a doc wouldn’t be required to carry any regulatory worth, and would at all times be topic to vehicles passing scrutineering simply because the provisional race outcome does.

However outlining a sign of what the grid ought to appear to be at that second would positively serve to keep away from the confusion that marred Saturday evening at Monza.

A easy tweak to the principles – to permit the stewards to subject this doc as a bid to assist inform the broader world – would in concept be a formality for all the advantages it might deliver.

For when the F1 and the FIA have achieved a lot proper with the on-track spectacle amid the brand new guidelines period, it will be important the game does as equally a great job with its off-circuit processes as effectively.

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