The FIA is working to find a solution to the Formula 1 engine penalty grid system following a “farcical” Q2 session during Russian Grand Prix qualifying.

Under current regulations, drivers who rack up grid penalties as a result of changing power unit components start the race in the order the elements are used, meaning whoever leaves the pitlane first in opening practice will automatically earn the highest grid spot.

It prompted a flurry of activity at the start of FP1 in Sochi as Fernando Alonso’s McLaren, driven by Lando Norris, headed a queue of cars waiting at the end of the pitlane ahead of the session getting underway.



It also led to a scenario where a number of the drivers who progressed into Q2 did not run in the session due to their looming grid penalties, while both Renault drivers also opted to run with the guarantee of a sixth-row start featuring free tyre choice – which the team deemed would be better than advancing into Q3 and having to start the race on Hypersofts.

As a result, the FIA is now looking into ways to provide an incentive for drivers to run throughout each segment of qualifying.

"I don't think anyone could have foreseen what happened," FIA race director Charlie Whiting said.

"When you've got five drivers with exactly the same penalty, you then have to establish in what order they are supposed to be. I think there is another way, I've been talking about it to a few teams.

"Instead of having cars line up at the pit exit in a rather farcical way, and that sort of thing will only ever get worse, if you have five drivers you will arrange them at the back in the order in which they qualified.

"That would provide some incentive for drivers to actually go and qualify, and try to qualify as high as they could at least. That’s one suggestion that’s going to be discussed.”

Such a change being implemented would require unanimous agreement among participating teams, which Whiting feels would be a realistic prospect.

“I would have thought quite high,” Whiting replied when asked if he felt teams would agree to the proposed solution.

“I’d like to think that would be a sensible solution. There may be some drawbacks that we haven’t thought of yet but it’s a relatively new idea, but we will talk it through.”

It comes after F1’s managing director Ross Brawn revealed plans to shake-up the qualifying format by adding a fourth session.

Brawn argued F1 must “look at the rules to ensure they are comprehensible and produce the best possible show”.


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