FIA Cuts Pitstop Penalties After Alonso Review: No More Jacks Touching F1 Cars

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The authorities reviewed the rules of a penalty stop and grid position that caused it. This review changed the width of the grid boxes from 2.5m to 2.7m, plus a white line was added in the center to help drivers know where they have to be during this weekend’s race in Melbourne.

At the Grand Prix of Jeddah, Alonso had to take a five-second penalty due to him parking too far left at the start line. This was because new rules were created in 2023 and officials had extra checking, so it resulted in additional penalties for Alonso. Mercedes noticed that when he received the penalty there was something wrong with it and told the officials about it.

The Authorities in charge (FIA) investigated the issue and afterwards, they gave a 10-seconds penalty to Alonso which made him go down from third place to fourth.

This happened because they thought that during his penalty stop, someone had touched his car which is not allowed according to the regulation that says no one can tamper with a car until the time of their punishment has been fully served.

Basically, Aston Martin asked the racing officials to look closer into the situation and they were able to show that while people did talk about the matter at some meetings, there was no definite rule saying jacks touching cars was not allowed. The team also showed videos of seven recent pitstop penalties that happened with five different teams – Mercedes, Alpine, AlphaTauri, Haas and McLaren – where jacks were touching the cars.

The officials looked at the new evidence and changed their minds. So they let Alonso have his 3rd place back. People weren’t happy with this decision and blamed the FIA (the people in charge). This made the FIA review quickly what had happened, so they could learn from it and make the sport better.

The FIA (Federation Internationale de l’Automobile) organized a panel of people from different departments, like race control, safety, operations and technical. Also included in the panel were members from the Remote Operations Centre. The panel was gathered to look at an incident that caused confusion due to the lack of clarity in the rules regulations, leading to mixed up precedents.

The FIA, FOM and the teams had been discussing a rule at some recent meetings about the F1 sporting regulations. Then on Friday morning, the team managers discussed it further and sent out a sport directive which included three points about penalty pitstops.

“1. Basically, if you put your hands, tools, or equipment on the car or driver while being penalized, it counts as ‘work’.

“2. Using cooling fans during a penalty is allowed, but just try to make sure that none of the fans actually touch the car.”

If you get into trouble during the race, more than one penalty can be served at one pitstop. For example, if you have 5 seconds and 10 seconds of penalties combined, they can show as a single 15 second penalty.

The FIA, or Formula 1 world governing body, is introducing a new rule that will make the grid boxes 20cms wider. In addition, they will trial a centre line to help drivers find their slot on the grid during Friday’s free practice in Melbourne. Some drivers think this won’t actually work since they won’t be able to see the lines by the time they reach their spot, so it’s unclear if these white lines will become part of standard racing rules.

The FIA recently looked into a case involving Alonso, and they learned that not every rule is written in the regulations. They are now talking about making some changes to these rules, but also considering what happened with Alonso’s penalty which was given late. The FIA said that there might be changes made for “further improvement.”

This means there should be a review of certain standards that aren’t written down yet, but need to be addressed. They also need to look into the processes and reasons why races are delayed if something is reported late to the officials.

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