The simple solution to the “vacuum” of the F1 .’s grid delay

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But while arguments over the pros and cons of the penalty system seem to be raging forever, one thing the paddock seems to agree on is that waiting a long time for a confirmed grid is not good for F1.

The nearly four-hour wait for the provisional starting grid in Monza sparked anger and criticism at some of the outdated ways things are run.

While that may be a matter of opinion, what has happened at Monza has reopened the debate on what could be improved in the future and gave new impetus to what TBEN understands will be an analysis within the FIA ​​this winter. are about how things can be improved as the series moves to 2023.

Because instead of delayed grid confirmations being a major problem hanging over F1, the solutions are actually quite simple.

Italy confusion

At Monza, as qualifying ended just after 4 p.m., drivers, teams and media were unsure of the starting order for Sunday’s race.

Max Verstappen’s five-place grid drop from second place meant the Dutchman was quite convinced of where to start.

“I think it’s P7. Unless I’m stupid,’ he said. “But I think it’s P7. No, seventh. You have to read the rules.”

But rival teams weren’t so sure and some squads knocked their predicted order back to fourth for Verstappen, thanks to Carlos Sainz, Sergio Perez and Lewis Hamilton who also went back.

Down in the television pen Fernando Alonso calculated that he would start from 7th place that Verstappen thought he had.

Some journalists and broadcasters boldly made predictions about how the grid should shake, but were quickly forced to correct it when official confirmation came.

AlphaTauri’s Pierre Gasly also took to Twitter to ask if anyone knew where to start.

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“Can anyone tell me in which position I will start the race tomorrow?” he asked.

In the end it took until 8.45pm for the FIA ​​to issue a grid. (Although 10 minutes later, the governing body released a corrected version that removed the word “final” from the document and changed it to “provisional”).

For a championship as advanced as F1, which enjoys enormous popularity, with fans, drivers and teams being forced to wait nearly four hours to be absolutely sure of the starting order, falls far short of what might be expected.

How the system works

The long wait for a provisional grid to be issued is partly due to the strict processes and regulations F1 uses every weekend.

Official timing data (which is done by F1) is passed to the FIA, after which the governing body goes through a designated system to produce the grid.

There were some rumors at Monza on Saturday night that FOM was late in supplying this data to the FIA, but senior sources are adamant that this was not the case and that everything has been processed normally.

FIA staff are working properly on site, processing the fines to create the grid order, while technical checks take place to ensure the cars are in compliance.

Photo By: Zak Mauger / Motorsport Images

Only when everything is in order will the provisional grid go to the stewards for a check and approval before issuing its first formal document – a provisional grid on Saturday night.

However, sources have suggested that in the hours after qualifying, things were not helped by several teams – one after the other – who lobbied the stewards about how the penalties should be applied to get their drivers up the rankings.

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The vacuum problem

Interestingly, the FIA ​​is not required to publish anything about the grid until a few hours before the race. The provisional starting grid on Saturday evening is an informal agreement.

Article 41.5 of the FIA ​​Sporting Regulations states: “The starting grid for both the sprint session and the race will be published not less than four (4) hours before the scheduled start of the formation lap.”

Normally, with many races with only one or two penalties, it is quite easy to work out the grid drops, so the reliance on the FIA ​​document is not that big.

But if things get as complicated as they were at Monza – with nine drivers being penalized for multiple reasons – then there will be a greater responsibility on the FIA ​​to provide a more definitive answer.

When that answer doesn’t come for many hours, and there is widespread confusion in the pit lane and among fans about exactly how the grid would be interpreted, what remains is what McLaren boss Andreas Seidl has called a “vacuum”.

Seidl suggested that the delay at Monza in producing the grid should be something to be taken on board and discussed between the competitors and F1 chiefs in the future.

“I accept, it’s probably a good idea that we should discuss, just to avoid this vacuum of firm confirmation of what the preliminary grid is like,” he said.

“It’s a good idea, I think it’s something we’ll bring up to discuss, because in the end it’s not a big deal to put out a preliminary roster. Then wait until parc ferme is over, reattach the grid and then everyone else asked what we look like. ”

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With FIA president Mohammed Bin Sulayem meeting with F1 sports managers and officials on Monday, there is a chance that the matter will be picked up fairly quickly.

Andreas Seidl:

Andreas Seidl: “I think it’s something we’ll bring up to discuss because in the end it’s not a big deal to put down a preliminary roster… just to avoid this vacuum.”

Photo By: Steven Tee / Motorsport Images

An answer to the problem

The solution to the delayed grid response problem isn’t that complicated, and a simple algorithm could be created to help produce what the grid should look like once the qualifying checkered flag came out.

The FIA ​​knows exactly how the penalty system works – with drivers now getting stuck for their grid drops rather than being shuffled back again as each penalty is applied in turn – so in theory it should be quite easy to Provisional document to be produced in the moments after Q3 ends.

Such a document should not have any regulatory value and would always be subject to cars that pass the technical inspection, just like the preliminary race result.

But sketching an indication of what the grid should look like at that point would certainly help avoid the confusion that marred Monza on Saturday night.

A simple rule change – to allow the stewards to issue this document as an effort to inform the rest of the world – would in theory be a formality for all the benefits it would bring.

Because if F1 and the FIA ​​have done so much good with the on-track spectacle in the midst of the new rules era, it’s important that it also does a good job with its processes off the track.