Ferrari issue ‘fantasy’ warning as F1 parc fermé regulations come under spotlight

Jamie Woodhouse
Restart in Mexico with Max Verstappen pulling away from Charles Leclerc.

Max Verstappen pulling away from Charles Leclerc and Lewis Hamilton.

Ferrari sporting director Diego Ioverno sees scope for easing the parc fermé regulations, though warns some protection is needed from engineer “fantasies” running wild.

The return of the sprint format in Brazil has sparked fresh talk over this shutdown on setup changes, which under the current format comes into play after the sole Friday practice session.

This follows on from the events of the US Grand Prix, where Lewis Hamilton and Charles Leclerc were disqualified post-race for excessive plank wear on their respective Mercedes and Ferrari challengers, Mercedes having known they were on the limit, though chose not to make changes and accept a pit-lane start, as Aston Martin and Haas had done.

Ferrari believe parc fermé rules still play their part

In past eras of Formula 1, the idea of axing parc fermé would have been a very risky call indeed, though the series in its current form has other factors which would likely stop teams from getting too wacky even if they had freedom with setup changes.

The fact that team personnel cannot work past a curfew and the existence of the budget cap, means the whole ‘qualifying car’ idea would be very challenging to pull off, even if parc fermé no longer existed.

On a normal Grand Prix weekend, parc fermé comes into play once qualifying begins.

However, while Ioverno said talks are taking place with Formula 1 over a potential easing of the restrictions, he feels fully taking the reins off engineers and letting their “fantasies” run free is not the best solution.

“Parc fermé, we are discussing about it,” he told media personnel.

“The original one was to prevent teams to do crazy things, qualy to the race. But there is also another aspect: that is to prevent, to protect teams by themselves, because engineers have always a lot of fantasy and sometimes mechanics are a bit too stressed.

“I think there is still some merit in parc ferme rules. Probably we may relax some of them because there are other ways to control what we are doing. There is the budget cap limitation, tracing of parts.

“I don’t think we will get rid of parc ferme completely, but we are discussing these amongst others with the FIA.”

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Aston Martin’s performance director Tom McCullough had a similar way of thinking, confirming his openness to tweaks, but not scrapping parc ferme entirely.

“The fantasy is the bit I enjoyed there,” he said in reply to Ioverno’s comments.

“There’s a lot of good things about when parc fermé was introduced. Like Diego says, I think it’s a matter of evolving the rules to achieve what we’re all trying to achieve.

“We allow certain things to be changed. You can change brake material, you can do various bits and bobs. Obviously, we can’t change the skids and the plank on the car, therefore you’ve got to make some decisions on very limited running very early.

“And there are things like the weather effects that, a headwind to a tailwind and a big straight can influence that and forecasting that three days in advance is tough.

“So I think tweaks to the regulations are always welcome from an engineering side of things, but I don’t think we should get rid of it.”

Ferrari are in a head-to-head battle with Mercedes to claim P2 in the Constructors’ Championship.

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