Horner criticises FIA rule change

Having fallen foul of a loophole in its own regulations, the FIA has attempted to tighten up a loophole which led to Esteban Ocon and Fernando Alonso being sanctioned following race start procedure penalties in Bahrain and Jeddah respectively.

Aston Martin successfully appealed the stewards decision to penalise Fernando Alonso for an infringement while he served a 5 second penalty.



FIA regulate “no touching the car”

While Alonso’s pit crew were waiting to service Fernando’s car, the jack man touched the car with the jack which the stewards deemed a breach of the regulations.

However, Aston Martin were able demonstrate there were a number of precedents where ‘touching the car’ was not deemed to be ‘working on the car’ and so the stewards reversed their decision.

The loophole has now been closed by the FIA who now state that ‘touching the car’ by any member of the pit crew while their driver is serving a pit box time penalty will be deemed ‘working on the car’ and subject to a further penalty.

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Historic team celebrations banned

More controversially is the out of the blue dictat from on high banning the pit crew from their historic celebrations at the chequered flag.

F1 race director Niels Wittich pre-event weekend safety noted included, “it is forbidden to climb on pit wall debris fence at any time.”

By referencing Appendix H, Article 2.3.2 of the FIA’s International Sporting Code – Wittich is referring to rules that are enforced across the motorsport categories sanctioned by the FIA.



Horner criticises FIA 

However, Wittich has used an existing rule to enforce the new ban on pit crew celebrations as the article states, “team personnel are only allowed in the pit lane immediately before they are required to work on a car and must withdraw as soon as the work is complete”.

Speaking after FP1 in Australian Red Bull boss Christian Horner was critical of the new interpretation of an Ade old regulation to ban the victory celebrations of the pt crew.

“I’m surprised it was an issue, to be honest with you, but I think anything that relates to safety, obviously, has to be taken very, very seriously,” he said.

Stewards not even handed with penalties



No history of safety problems

“But it’s a fairly iconic moment when you see a Grand Prix car finishing a Grand Prix and its team celebrating on a fence, as long as it’s done in a manner that is safe. I, personally, have never seen an issue with it. It’s always been a part of Grand Prix racing.”

McLaren chief Zak Brown appeared bemused by the clampdown and the prospect of teams facing penalties going forwards.

“I’m not exactly sure what sparked the necessity to change it,” he said.

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Ongoing FIA rules enforcement

“I’m not aware of an incident. That being said, safety is critically important to all of us and if they feel it’s potentially not safe, and those are the rules, then we’ll stick to it.”

This is all part of the new FIA clampdown on enforcing regulations that have fallen into disrepute. Last season the stewards were asked to revisit rules prohibiting drivers wearing jewellery and non-approved fireproof underwear.

Further, track limits has been strictly enforced under the watch of new FIA president Mohammed Ben Sulayem and drivers are no longer allowed to “crowd” rivals at race restarts by pulling alongside as described in article 55.14.

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