FIA sets up new panel for F1 rule controversies

The FIA has changed the way it evaluates controversial team innovations in Formula 1 by creating a new panel that could limit the temptation for protests in the future.

FIA sets up new panel for F1 rule controversies

Red Bull's doubts about the legality of the Mercedes DAS system prompted it to lodge a formal complaint against its rival after Friday running in Austria.

In the end the stewards agreed with the verdict of the FIA's technical delegate that the device was fully legal.

The fact that the matter had to go to a formal protest several months after DAS first appeared in pre-season testing has reopened the debate about whether or not a better rules process could be put in place to avoid such public controversies at grands prix.

At the moment, before a race, teams can only get the opinion of the FIA technical department about whether or not a system complies the regulations.

A definite answer on its legality can only be given by stewards at each individual race.

FIA president Jean Todt has revealed that the governing body has just introduced a new structure to help ensure that opinions offered on sensitive topics are more robust in the future – with a panel of experts now being relied upon rather than just one individual.

The idea of the panel was ratified by the FIA's World Motor Sport Council last month, and the idea is that they can be called up to offer advice if there are any tricky matters that need a decision.

The hope is obviously that if the FIA's opinion before a race weekend comes from a group of experts rather than an individual, then there will be less risk of bias and more robust reasoning behind decisions.

That should make teams trust the FIA opinion more beforehand and therefore make it less likely for them to believe that a protest lodged with the stewards could be successful.

"The stewards, they do rely on the interpretation of our experts," Todt said at the Red Bull Ring.

"There's a lot of pressure on our experts on that. So that's why we have decided that, on sensitive interpretations, there is going to be a little panel of three experts who will have to agree or disagree on one interpretation.

"So it's not only one guy who can say yes, black or white. It will be a group of three experts, plus they can get your contribution of electronic expert, engine expert to be able to give the answer."

However, Todt was clear that the door had to always be open for teams to protest rivals at races.

"I think it will be inappropriate to limit when you can make a protest or not," he said.

No permanent stewards

While the nature of protests, which often requires many hours of debate between stewards who may not be up to speed on specific issues, has caused some controversy, Todt thinks the current system is much better than having a single steward who could be at risk of bias.

"It has been been quite a historic debate," he said about whether having a permanent steward would be better. "Honestly, you have plus and minus.

"I think we've been doing a significant progress on the quality and the level of all stewards, who are trained every year. They get also examined. So, we have a very good group of experts and we feel to have three or four groups is the best solution.

"Personally, you know, when I was having other responsibilities, I hated to have one expert for the whole season because I felt that if he had decided that he would be against a kind of position of a team, then he will be always against [them].

"So I really feel that three or four groups of very good people is the less controversial situation."

Todt added he was happy that Red Bull had elected to protest the Mercedes matter after Friday practice rather than waiting until race day.

"I prefer a team to make a protest at the beginning of the championship rather than at the end of the race," he explained.

"I think that the approach of Red Bull has been very good, very straightforward."

shares
comments
Grosjean: $40m F1 salaries like Hamilton’s are “unacceptable”
Previous article

Grosjean: $40m F1 salaries like Hamilton’s are “unacceptable”

Next article

Analysis: What we’ve learned about DAS from Red Bull's protest

Analysis: What we’ve learned about DAS from Red Bull's protest
How Tyrrell’s post-Stewart era descended into a fight to survive Prime

How Tyrrell’s post-Stewart era descended into a fight to survive

Glory days for Tyrrell became increasingly infrequent
 after Jackie Stewart’s retirement. But in the latest instalment of his history of the team for Autosport's sister title GP Racing, 
MAURICE HAMILTON recalls how Ken Tyrrell’s plucky and defiantly small team stayed bold enough to innovate – springing a surprise with F1’s first six-wheeled car

How departing F1 boss Brawn views F1’s new rules - and the future Prime

How departing F1 boss Brawn views F1’s new rules - and the future

Multiple-title-winning designer and team boss Ross Brawn is finally leaving Formula 1 after nearly 50 years in motorsport. But he still has plenty of insights on what’s working and what comes next, as he revealed to Motorsport.com in a far-reaching exclusive interview in Abu Dhabi.

Formula 1
Dec 2, 2022
The key F1 management call Ferrari must make to avoid more defeat Prime

The key F1 management call Ferrari must make to avoid more defeat

OPINION: Mattia Binotto’s departure from Ferrari will naturally bring a range of changes across the Formula 1 team. But how the changes shape up and the impact they could have is set to be dictated by a key direction Ferrari’s top dogs will need to pick

Formula 1
Nov 30, 2022
The difference between Mercedes’ stumble and the fall of F1 giants Prime

The difference between Mercedes’ stumble and the fall of F1 giants

OPINION: Mercedes endured its worst season of the hybrid Formula 1 era, but was mercifully spared its first winless campaign in over a decade late on. It has owned up to the mistakes it made which led to its troubled W13. And while its task to return to title-challenging contention is not small, its 2022 season seems more like a blip than the beginning of a downward spiral.

Formula 1
Nov 29, 2022
The physical focus bringing out the best from Esteban Ocon Prime

The physical focus bringing out the best from Esteban Ocon

Esteban Ocon likes to point out he’s the first driver since Lewis Hamilton to emerge from a spell as Fernando Alonso’s teammate with a superior overall points record. While some may disagree, as LUKE SMITH discovered, the 2021 Hungarian GP winner reckons it’s not just luck which has made him France’s pre-eminent Formula 1 driver of the moment…

Formula 1
Nov 28, 2022
How Red Bull's dynamic leader Mateschitz shaped its F1 philosophy Prime

How Red Bull's dynamic leader Mateschitz shaped its F1 philosophy

The death of Dietrich Mateschitz last month has not only deprived Red Bull of its visionary founder, it has shorn Formula 1 of one of its most influential benefactors. Mateschitz himself was famously media-shy, preferring to let the brand do the talking on his behalf. And, while it’s now normal to speak of Red Bull F1 titles and champions made, Mateschitz never assumed it would be easy or even possible – as ANTHONY ROWLINSON discovered during this previously unpublished interview from 2006…

Formula 1
Nov 27, 2022
Can Mercedes break Formula 1's cycle of doom? Prime

Can Mercedes break Formula 1's cycle of doom?

OPINION: Teams that have dominated for long periods throughout Formula 1's history often take years to get back to the top of the tree once they've slipped down. But it remains to be seen whether the same will happen to Mercedes after a challenging 2022 season

Formula 1
Nov 24, 2022
What hurt Perez most in his ill-fated fight for second in Abu Dhabi Prime

What hurt Perez most in his ill-fated fight for second in Abu Dhabi

Arguably the favourite in the battle to finish second-best in 2022's Formula 1 standings, Sergio Perez's two-stop strategy at Abu Dhabi couldn't take him ahead of Charles Leclerc when the music stopped - and several key factors ultimately precluded him from the much-coveted runner-up spot.

Formula 1
Nov 23, 2022