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Formula 1 Brazilian GP

F1 teams pushing to relax parc ferme rules but must limit engineer 'fantasies'

Formula 1 teams are discussing the relaxation of parc ferme regulations but are mindful of letting the ‘fantasies’ of their engineers run wild.

Nico Hulkenberg, Haas F1 Team, Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes-AMG, arrive in Parc Ferme after the Sprint race

Parc ferme was introduced to limit how much teams could alter their set-up between sessions to effectively deter bespoke cars for qualifying and the races as part of money-saving measures.

But since the FIA introduced a cost cap for F1 in 2021 and with curfews limiting how late teams may work to refine their cars, there is now scope for parc ferme regulations to be eased.

This topic has climbed up the agenda after Lewis Hamilton and Charles Leclerc were disqualified from the United States Grand Prix last month when their floor planks were found to have worn excessively from an Austin track that was markedly bumpier in 2023.

The FIA noted that this breach of the technical rules was likely due to the sprint race format, which meant car set-ups had to be locked in under parc ferme after only one-hour of practice running.

Asked by Autosport whether the constraints should be eased, new Ferrari sporting director Diego Ioverno reckoned the rules still had a role to play in limiting engineer ‘fantasies’.

He said: “Parc ferme, we are discussing about it. The original one was to prevent teams from doing crazy things from qualifying into the race.

“But there is also another aspect: that is to protect teams from themselves, because engineers have always a lot of fantasy and sometimes mechanics are a bit too stressed.

Diego Ioverno, Sporting Director, Scuderia Ferrari

Photo by: Motorsport Images

Diego Ioverno, Sporting Director, Scuderia Ferrari

“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.”

The Sporting Advisory Committee has met this week in Brazil.

Aston Martin performance director Tom McCullough followed suit, saying some flexibility would be welcome to allow teams to adapt to changing conditions.

He said: “There's a lot of good things about when parc ferme was introduced.

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“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.

Tom McCullough, Performance Director, Aston Martin F1 Team

Photo by: Motorsport Images

Tom McCullough, Performance Director, Aston Martin F1 Team

“There are things like the weather that affects 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.”

 

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