FIA points “loophole’ in Suzuka “a mistake”

Confusion reigned as Max Verstappen won the 2022 Formula One Japanese GP. The team’s and the F1 pundits all believed because just 28 laps had been completed of the full race distance, just 75% points would be awarded. This is was because of a regulation change following the farcical 2021 Belgium GP.

75% points would have seen Max awarded 19 for the ins and even after his relegation to P3 by the stewards, Charl;es LeClerc would score 12 points. Verstappen needed to claim 8 more points than his Ferrari rival to win the title.


At the previous season’s Belgium GP the race was almost a complete washout. The regulations then stated if two laps were completed the the event constituted a race and full points were awarded.



Verstappen wins despite spirit of rule broken

Of course Max Verstappen completed the two laps behind the safety car before the race was red flagged and never restarted. Max won the race and received the full 25 points for the victory.

The teams and the FIA believed it was unfair for full points to be awarded for a none event and the regulations were changed for 2022.

Points are now tiered depending on whether 25%, 50% or more than 75% of the race is completed.



Confusion in regulation detail

However, this criteria only applies “if the race cannot be resumed” after a red flag. Of course the Japanese GP did resume and so full points were awarded and Max received 25 and Charles LeCLerc just 15 points.

Christian Horner admitted this was a “mistake” in the intentions of the teams when drafting the regulations because Red Bull Racing thought the 75% rule would apply to any race that fails to complete the full distance.

McLaren team boss now reveals, “At the end of the day it wasn’t what we all had in mind. That wasn’t the intention from the FIA’s side and from the teams side,” said Andreas Seidl.

“But in the end it seems like we all overlooked this loophole, therefore we are all responsible for that and it means we should all try to do a better job next time.” 

Under the new post Spa regulation, theoretically the race could complete 5 laps and be red flagged, then complete another single lap within the 2 hour time limit and full points would be awarded.



Ferrari believe a mistake was made

Ferrari boss Mattia Binotto agrees the regulation has not been written the way it was intended, though does accept the FIA applied the rule correctly in Japan which saw Max Verstappen clinch the 2022 F1 title.

“I need to check with our sporting guys what has been the clear understanding and what has been the conclusion the way that it [regulation] has been written and interpreted, with the intentions.

“It’s a detail now which I understand is something to clarify for the future; What is the true intention? What should we do? Is that clear enough?

“But I’m not too concerned and not too disappointed by it as well. I accept the way that the FIA has interpreted [it] and let’s review and discuss.”

The regulation will now be re-written for 2023 where presumably the 25%/50%/75% points awarded will be based on total number of laps completed by the end of the 2 hour race limit time set.

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