Grid penalties are needed or teams will ‘blow an engine every race’


Toto Wolff speaking in the media enclosure. Baku, June 2022. Credit: PA Images

Toto Wolff believes grid penalties are necessary to prevent teams from using 20 engines in a season.

As the 2022 season progressed, more and more drivers took penalties following the fitting of new parts to their cars.

At the Italian Grand Prix, a total of nine drivers received penalties, including Max Verstappen, Lewis Hamilton and Carlos Sainz, all starting further than they qualified.

This trend will only continue as teams struggle with the wear and tear experienced with each race and the constraints of the FIA ​​regulations.

Mercedes boss Wolff stressed that these penalties are a necessary evil because, unlike the chassis, there is no cost cap for the engine.

“On the chassis side, our costs are capped, and we weren’t before,” Wolff said, according to “On the engine side, we haven’t capped the costs yet.

“If there were no grid penalties, we would have qualifying engines. And not five of them, but 20! Big teams and OEMs (Original Equipment Manufacturer) would spend what they want to have an advantage.

“That’s why there must be some factor that limits that and prevents them. So that’s where it’s coming from now. But has it gotten too complicated? For sure.”

Formula 1 seems unsure how to fix the situation, but while some have suggested penalty points in the championships would be a deterrent, Wolff has his doubts.

“A negative could be that the drivers’ championship is the one that matters, and you’re just throwing engines on the car, taking a lot of deductions from the manufacturer, but winning the championship with a driver because he has a new power unit with every race.

“I think we need to reconsider when the engine plug kicks in and then everything [excessive grid penalties] is leaving. But still, we don’t want there to be an arms race over engines.

“Whatever freedom you give us, we will do it and we will do it even more strategically because it is only five places or 10 places.

“We’re going to blow an engine every race because it’s going to be three tenths faster than the previous one. So there must be some deterrence.

F1 racer-turned-commentator Martin Brundle said he felt the grid penalty mess was an “unacceptable situation” for the sport.

“With seven cars choosing, or mostly forced to take penalties for new powertrain components and other offences, for the second time in three races, the grid did not remotely represent the qualifying order,” wrote Brundle in his Sky Sports column. .

“This is an unacceptable situation because when fans turn up trackside or turn on their TVs to watch qualifying, they should reasonably expect to see the race grid form.

“Instead, we waited several hours for the torturous and complex sanctions enforcement process.

“We need solutions here because it’s a bad look for F1.

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