FIA clarifies grid penalty rules in bid to eliminate confusion

Jamie Woodhouse
Start of the 2022 Dutch GP. Zandvoort September 2022.

Start of the 2022 Dutch Grand Prix. Zandvoort September 2022.

The FIA has updated the sporting regulations to clear up the process of determining a grid with penalties applied after recent confusion.

It is not uncommon for a starting grid in Formula 1 to take into account some penalties, drivers dropping down the order which can then in turn mean a position boost for a competitor behind.

But on several occasions this season we have seen power unit element changes, or full PU switches, lead to a mass of grid penalties which means the starting order looks very different from the one determined by qualifying.

The Belgian and Italian GPs served as examples, the latter proving particularly confusing with fans, teams and paddock personnel unsure of the actual starting grid, as the regulations did not offer a process for applying the penalties. Even AlphaTauri driver Pierre Gasly was asking on social media if anyone knew where he would be starting the Italian GP.

The final starting grid would arrive almost four hours after qualifying had concluded.

The FIA has now acted with updates to Article 42.2 of the sporting regulations, the changes were agreed after the World Motor Sport Council met in London on Wednesday.

The aim of the updated rules is for them to make it simpler for fans and teams to understand how the grid will be decided with penalties applied.

The drivers go to the first corner. Monza September 2022.
Charles Leclerc leads the field down to the first chicane at the start of the race. Monza September 2022.

Here are how the updated rules in Article 42.2 read…

a) Classified drivers who have received 15 or less cumulative grid penalties will be allocated a temporary grid position equal to their Qualifying Classification plus the sum of their grid penalties. If two or more drivers share a temporary grid position, their relative order will be determined in accordance with their Qualifying Classification, with the slowest driver keeping their allocated temporary grid position, and the other drivers getting temporary grid positions immediately ahead of them.

b) Following the allocation of temporary grid positions to penalised drivers in accordance with (a), unpenalised classified drivers will be allocated any unoccupied grid position, in the sequence of their Qualifying Classification.

c) Following the allocation of grid positions to unpenalised classified drivers, penalised drivers with a temporary grid position, as defined in (a), will be moved up to fill any unoccupied grid position.

d) Classified drivers who have accrued more than 15 cumulative grid position penalties, or who have been penalised to start at the back of the grid, will start behind any other classified driver. Their relative position will be determined in accordance with their Qualifying Classification.

e) Unclassified drivers who have been permitted to participate by the Stewards will be allocated grid positions behind all the classified drivers. Their relative positions will be determined in accordance with Article 39.3 (b).

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