Exploring the Reasons Behind FIA’s Decision Against Waiving Ferrari’s Penalty in Vegas Grand Prix

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In an unfortunate turn of events during the Vegas F1 race, Carlos Sainz’s Ferrari encountered a mishap. A water valve cover disrupted during the first practice (FP1) damaged his car’s third energy store of the season. This incident automatically led to a 10-place penalty. While there was a wave of empathy for Ferrari across the paddock, recognizing that the team and driver weren’t at fault, the situation was a result of the circuit’s condition.

Fernando Alonso, who had a close call with the same water valve cover, commented on the severity of Sainz’s penalty, calling it a bit excessive. The concept of canceling penalties related to Power Unit (PU) or gearbox replacements in extraordinary situations has been a topic of debate. However, the F1 teams have consistently resisted incorporating such a clause into the regulations.

Ferrari’s team principal, Fred Vasseur, approached the stewards advocating for leniency. He argued that replacing the energy store, unlike a full power unit, wouldn’t provide Sainz any performance edge. Vasseur highlighted the non-performance aspect of the battery, the substantial damages incurred, and the intense efforts of the mechanics to rebuild, suggesting that acknowledging the situation as ‘force majeure’ wasn’t unreasonable.

Despite the stewards’ understanding of the situation, they were restricted by the regulations, which don’t allow for penalty waivers in such cases. The International Sporting Code and the F1 sporting regulations mention ‘force majeure’ 11 times, defining it as an “unpredictable, unpreventable, and external event.” However, these references mainly address event cancellations, entry withdrawals, driver changes, and testing regulations, not grid penalties.

AlphaTauri CEO Peter Bayer, with past experience in the FIA, confirmed that the resistance to amending grid penalty rules stemmed from the teams themselves. They feared that a ‘force majeure’ clause could be misused, granting undue power to those who might exploit it. Bayer expressed that, under the circumstances, AlphaTauri would have supported Ferrari’s case, acknowledging the lack of fault on their part.

The upcoming F1 Commission meeting in Abu Dhabi might reopen discussions on this topic.

Further Reading:

  • FORMULA 1: Ferrari’s Private Discussion on Sainz’s F1 Damage Compensation
  • FORMULA 1: Leclerc’s Take on the Las Vegas GP – Opportunities Lost and Found
  • FORMULA 1: The Need for an Entertaining Vegas Race After a Chaotic Start to the Weekend

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about Ferrari F1 Penalty

Why was Ferrari penalized in the Vegas F1 race?

Carlos Sainz’s Ferrari was penalized with a 10-place grid drop in the Vegas F1 race after his car’s energy store was damaged by a water valve cover during the first practice session. The replacement of the energy store led to an automatic penalty under the current F1 regulations.

What was Ferrari’s argument for a penalty waiver?

Ferrari team principal, Fred Vasseur, argued that the penalty was harsh as the damage was caused by a circuit fault and not by the team or driver. He also noted that replacing the energy store, unlike a complete power unit, wouldn’t provide a performance advantage, and thus, should be considered a case of ‘force majeure.’

Why didn’t the FIA waive Ferrari’s penalty?

The FIA stewards did not waive Ferrari’s penalty because the existing F1 sporting regulations do not have provisions for penalty waivers in such scenarios. The regulations define ‘force majeure’ but it mainly covers situations like event cancellations and driver changes, not grid penalties.

What is ‘force majeure’ in F1 regulations?

‘Force majeure’ in F1 regulations is defined as an unpredictable, unpreventable, and external event. It’s mentioned 11 times in the International Sporting Code and F1 sporting regulations, mostly in the context of event cancellations, entry withdrawals, driver changes, and testing regulations.

Will F1 consider changing the rules regarding ‘force majeure’?

The possibility of revising the rules to include a ‘force majeure’ clause for grid penalties has been a subject of debate. The upcoming F1 Commission meeting in Abu Dhabi may provide an opportunity to discuss this issue again. Historically, teams have been resistant to such changes, fearing potential misuse of the clause.

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F1Fanatic22 November 20, 2023 - 12:36 pm

ferrari’s penalty in vegas f1 race, total bummer. FIA shoulda helped ’em, unfair!

SpeedyG33k November 20, 2023 - 3:13 pm

sainz car broked cuz water thing, so sad. fia rules too strict, need chang

RevvedUp November 20, 2023 - 8:16 pm

force majeure? sounds fancy. fia needs to update the rules, it’s 2023!

RacingEnthusiast_45 November 21, 2023 - 7:18 am

f1 teams said no to penalty change, smh. ferrari deserved a break


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