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F1 moving to close off technical loopholes from 2021

Mat Coch

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Sunday 9th February, 2020 - 10:09am

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Formula 1 will change is governance regulations for 2021

A change to the way Formula 1 regulations are revised is set to be introduced in an effort to better close off loopholes.

Formula 1 employs a complex structure when it comes to rule changes, with stringent criteria on how and when they can be changed.

Mid-season rule changes have historically needed unanimous agreement from the teams, meaning should one find a loophole to exploit it could vote against a change to close it.

According to F1’s managing director Ross Brawn, that process will be simpler for 2021, allowing the sport to react more quickly if needed.

“The governance in the past has been the teams have to all agree to make a change,” Brawn explained.

“We’re pushing through governance where we can make changes much more on short notice than at the present time.

“If you exploit a loophole in the future, you can be shut down at the next race, which you could never do now.”

Ironically, Brawn has first-hand experience in exploiting loopholes to his team’s advantage, famously introducing the ‘double diffuser’ in 2009, helping carry Jenson Button to the world championship driving for Brawn GP.

“So the Brawn diffuser – as it happens, there were three teams that had it, so it would have carried on,” Brawn said.

“But if one team stands out there with a solution that has never been conceived, and has never been imagined, and destroys the whole principle of what is trying to be done, the governance would allow, with sufficient support from the other teams, to stop it. This is a whole different philosophy.

“Then what happens is someone who has a loophole thinks, ‘Do I want to use it or do I want to tell the FIA about it as it wasn’t intended?’.

“You’ve found a loophole in the regulations and you turn up at the first race and the FIA say, ‘Sorry chap, that wasn’t intended, we’re going to hold a meeting now and if everyone agrees, apart from you, we’ll stop it’.”

The intent, Brawn suggests, is not to prevent original thinking from designers, but to focus that innovation on concepts within the intent of the regulations.

“If someone comes up with something that was a play on the words, or some interpretation that was never intended, it completely corrupts the principle,” Brawn suggested.

“What is the choice? Either live with it for a year, and have something which is not a great competition, or we change it, put it right and get the competition back to where it is.

“Would you take that risk of going into the championship with an interpretation that was risky if you knew it could be stopped?

“Therefore, the evolution and the way those things will develop will be different. The philosophy would be different.

“What we don’t want – and I say this with some hypocrisy – is that we don’t want a championship being won because of the loophole,” he added.

“We want people with an understood set of regulations that will be the best at what they do.

“I think they have to rely on us and the FIA, that we’re not going to penalise someone who has a great idea.

“That is subjective, but is a great idea the fact that someone put a comma in the wrong place in the regulations which means a lawyer can interpret it in a diverse way? I don’t think it is.”

Pre-season testing for the 2020 Formula 1 campaign gets underway in Spain next week, with a host of teams set to unveil their new cars this week.

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