Formula 1 is planning to make changes to its system of governance from 2021 in order to make it more difficult to exploit loopholes, says managing director Ross Brawn.
Amidst a wave of alterations to F1’s sporting, technical and financial regulations being introduced next season, the FIA and F1 are hoping they will be granted the power to change rules mid-season without the consensus of all ten teams, as is currently required.
Instead, there will ten votes each assigned to the teams, F1 management and the FIA. Changing a rule for the following season would require 25 votes out of the 30, while enacting it immediately would require 28.
“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,” Brawn told the official F1 website.
“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’.”
As far as Brawn is concerned, such ability to wield the ban-hammer won’t stifle innovation, stressing there is a difference between a “great idea” and one that “corrupts the principle” of the regulations.
“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.”
In any case, Brawn insists it is an important move to ensure the sport maintains competitive balance.
“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.
“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 eponymous team did the championship double in 2009 with the double diffuser] – 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.”