Former F1 engineer Alan Permane has suggested that F1 grid generation after qualifying could be automated.
At the Italian F1 Grand Prix, it took almost four hours before the provisional grid was released. Nine drivers received disqualification penalties under various conditions and the starting order was changed dramatically, causing confusion among F1 fans and some in the media.
This was highlighted by some claiming that Max Verstappen would start from seventh, while others mistakenly believed that he would start from fourth position.
The stewards’ job is to draw up the grid after qualifying, a process that has changed subtly in recent years.
In the past, each change redrawn the grid and applied the penalties chronologically.
This created a situation where drivers with grid penalties could not fully serve and could be moved forward if other penalties were issued.
The current process is to impose all penalties at the same time. Some shuffling is required, but the basic order is set by qualifying times.
Drivers taking a ‘back of grid’ penalty will always start from the back. If multiple drivers receive the same penalty, they will follow qualifying order.
At Monza, Carlos Sainz started 18th on the grid (3rd in qualifying), Lewis Hamilton 19th on the grid (7th in qualifying), and Yuki Tsunoda 20th on the grid (17th in qualifying).
Anyone receiving a simple “grid place” penalty will drop that number of qualifying positions. The only exception is that they always start ahead of drivers who have received back of the grid penalties.
Max Verstappen received a five place grid penalty after qualifying, dropping him from 2nd to 7th. Sergio Pérez was also penalized and, like several others, dropped down the grid.
In such situations, drivers who are not penalized are moved forward to fill the empty grid slots.
Alpine F1 Team sporting director Alan Permain said: “From 2020 there are guidelines and I think the grid is formed as described in those guidelines.
“That guideline was developed, developed with F1 and the FIA and has been consistently applied ever since.”
“I don’t think there were any surprises, but I don’t think there were people who didn’t have the guidelines.”
“But I agree that waiting for the grid for three to four hours is a bit long.”
“I think it’s relatively easy to announce when the last car crosses the line. However, it could change after scrutiny, etc.”
“They can put all the known penalties into something and it’s better for everyone.”
This year the FIA invested in additional resources to support race directors and in technology to automate certain processes.
It hasn’t gone as far as creating a grid, but Alan Permain suggests that the program could potentially produce preliminary results almost instantly.
When asked if a computer program could manage this process, Alan Perman replied, “I think it can, but I’m no expert.”
“But I’m sure they know that the first car has a 10 grid relegation penalty and at the end of the qualifying period they have all the information so I’m sure they will see it.”
“I don’t know why it took so long at Monza. I think they double and triple checked everything.”
“They are supposed to announce the grid four hours before the start of the race, so everything you get on Saturday night is a bonus and they announce the provisional grid.”
“I understand that it is important for the media, and it is important for us to start building strategies and things like that.”
Category: F1 / Alpine / FIA