F1 set for rule change to shut down 2021 loopholes
It’s the dawn of a new era for Formula 1 in 2021, with a complete overhaul of the championship’s sporting, technical and financial regulations on the way. As part of this revamp, F1 motorsport boss Ross Brawn says there will also be tweaks to the way the sport is governed to allow the FIA and F1 to make changes to the rules more quickly if a team has found a loophole.
As it stands, all ten teams have to agree to a change in the rules if made during the season. F1 and the FIA have been working hard to break their own rules, set to come into force in 2021, in a bid to close off any loopholes. But if any remain, and a team exploits one, under the current rules, any change to the regulations would have to wait until after the season ends. This won’t be the case from 2021.
"The governance in the past has been the teams have to all agree to make a change. We’re pushing through governance where we can make changes much more on short notice than at the present time,” said Brawn.
“If you exploit a loophole in the future, you can be shut down at the next race, which you could never do now. So the Brawn diffuser – as it happens, there were three teams that had it, so it would have carried on – 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’.”
Brawn insisted this change is focused on preventing teams doing anything which “corrupts the principle” of the new rules, while still allowing for great ideas within the regulations to flourish, as the boundaries would be clearer.
“A great idea is the exploitation of the regulations within what was intended,” he said. “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.
“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.
Is a great idea the fact that someone put a comma in the wrong place which means a lawyer can interpret the regulations in a diverse way? I don’t think 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 [Brawn’s blown diffuser played a big part in helping the team win both world championships in 2009] – is that we don’t want a championship being won because of the loophole.
“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.”