FIA agree to overhaul penalty system

Formula One has taken a first step towards a bold and radical vision for the future, with a range of proposals to improve the current sport confirmed by the sport’s ruling body, the International Motoring Federation (FIA).

One of the most welcome changes confirmed on Thursday was a plan to overhaul the controversial and much-criticised penalty system for engine changes that has made a mockery of the composition of the starting grid in recent weeks.

In a statement issued at Silverstone on the eve of this weekend’s British Grand Prix, the FIA said that “an overhaul of the power unit penalties has been unanimously agreed” following a meeting of the sport’s Strategy Group earlier this week.

The proposed overhaul “will be submitted to the F1 Commission via an express fax vote for an adoption at the World Motorsport Council in Mexico City next week,” the statement added, putting the accent on expediting the changes after weeks of mounting adverse publicity.

This came to a head at last month’s Austrian Grand Prix where the Red Bull and McLaren Honda teams were forced to start from the back two rows of the grid after being given complex and severe penalties.

In another of many other proposed changes, new manufacturers will be allowed an extra power unit in their first season – a move that will assist Honda as they struggle through a series of engine failures.

“It was agreed to allow an extra power unit per driver in the first year to any new manufacturer entering the championship and, for the sake of fairness, the measure will apply retroactively to Honda for the 2015 season,” said the FIA statement.

In another cost-cutting move, the FIA and Formula One Management (FOM) will create a set of measures relating to “the cost of supply, including full review of the token system, increase in race fuel allowances (and) limits on the usage of engine dynamometers.”

The group also approved a scheme to change the regulations on exhaust output to allow greater engine noise for next year and agreed to another reduction in the use of ‘driver aids’, to start from this season’s Belgian Grand Prix next month (August).

This is part of a wider effort to add to the drivers’ challenge and is expected to include a clampdown on the ‘coaching’ of drivers by radio and a return to manual race starts. These also will start from the Belgian weekend.

“These measures will bring back the driver in full control of the car, enhancing the races’ excitement and unpredictability.”

Faster cars for 2017 and a radical new program for the entire weekend of a Grand Prix are also planned.

This is understood to include adding a ‘sprint’ race on Saturday instead of the traditional qualifying session.

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