F1 teams to work with FIA in order to prevent points ‘loophole’ repeat

Jon Wilde
Max Verstappen, Red Bull, scratching head next to Sergio Perez. Suzuka October 2022.

Max Verstappen scratching head next to Sergio Perez after the Japanese Grand Prix. Suzuka October 2022.

Alpine and McLaren have owned up to their part in the points-system confusion that took the shine off Max Verstappen’s coronation as 2022 World Champion.

Only while Johnny Herbert was conducting the parc ferme interviews after the Japanese Grand Prix was Verstappen informed he was officially a double champion – and even then, the Dutchman was unsure whether to believe it.

Microphones in the cooldown room just before the podium ceremony picked up Verstappen still expressing doubt, until his scepticism was put to rest by an official.

Ultimately, it was clarified that full points were to be awarded even though only 28 of the intended 53 laps of Suzuka could be completed within the three-hour race window, due to a two-hour hiatus after an early red flag.

This was despite a new scoring system having been introduced following the aborted 2021 Belgian Grand Prix, which allocates points based on what percentage of the planned race distance has taken place.

The decisive factor this time, according to the wording of the rules, was that the race had still been running at the end of its three-hour window rather than being halted and not resumed.

The FIA Mercedes Safety Car leads Max Verstappen, a lot of spray. Japan October 2022
The FIA Mercedes Safety Car leads Max Verstappen and Charles Leclerc, a lot of spray. Japan October 2022

Alpine sporting director Alan Permane has admitted the rule does not stipulate what had been intended.

Asked if he was surprised full points had been awarded instead of winner Verstappen receiving 19 for the 50-75% race distance having been completed, Permane told reporters: “Yes, because I have to say I was instrumental with quite a few others in writing that regulation and we know what it’s meant to do.

“But clearly, how they have applied it is clearly what it says.

“It was done after Spa because the race couldn’t be resumed and had only done a couple of laps. I think we maybe took that a little bit too much, literally. So maybe we need to amend it.

“What they have done [at Suzuka] is correct to the way the regulations are written, but I’m not sure it’s correct to how they are intended.”

McLaren team principal Andreas Seidl added: “I feel responsible for this because we do this review each winter and each team has the opportunity to bring up points which are not clear.

“I didn’t go into the detail yet with the team on what exactly the loophole was. But let’s say everything we have defined together with the FIA and F1 after Spa is only valid if the race doesn’t finish normally. And that’s clearly something we have all overlooked.

“We are all responsible this winter to close the loopholes, if there are any left, or different interpretations.”

Read more: Formula 1 only has itself to blame for Japan’s ‘WTF’ moments