The FIA informed teams ahead of this weekend’s Styrian Grand Prix that it would be moving to slow down pitstop times on safety grounds from next month’s race in Hungary, forcing teams to remove some automated procedures.
The move was made on safety grounds and welcomed by some teams, but Red Bull – the fastest team in the pits this season – called the decision “disappointing”.
Ferrari sporting director Laurent Mekies called on the FIA to sit down and discuss issues with teams instead of simply sending a technical directive, following recent clampdowns on rear wing flexibility and tyre pressures.
Alfa Romeo F1 chief Vasseur was direct in his criticism, making clear he did not agree with the pitstop clampdown.
He questioned why the FIA had not made the change over the winter, citing the difficulty travel restrictions will place on his team, and warned that the FIA should not regulate the series by issuing constant technical directives.
“I think to manage the F1 by TD-ing the course of the season, I think it’s not the right way to do it,” Vasseur said.
“We have all the winter period to prepare things. Pitstops didn’t change compared to last year, and if they have to change something, it could have been done last winter.
“Now we are changing in a rush for safety reasons, but we will have to change a couple of things between Silverstone and Budapest. I’m not sure that it’s a good step forward for the safety.
“In our case, we won’t be allowed to go back to the factory between Silverstone and Budapest with the quarantine in Switzerland.
“I think it’s not the right way to do it, that now we have more TDs than press releases on the Monday morning.
“Each Monday, we have a list of TDs. It’s the new way to govern F1, and it’s not the right way.
“Next topic will be the front wing deflection. We have to speak about this.”
Frederic Vasseur, Team Principal, Alfa Romeo Racing
Photo by: Mark Sutton / Motorsport Images
Technical directives are used by F1’s rule makers to close loopholes in the regulations, often triggered when teams question the activities of rivals.
A technical directive on rear wing flexibility was sparked by queries over Red Bull’s design last month, while the tyre failures in Baku prompted fresh measures to be introduced to test pressure levels.
Alpine sporting director Alan Permane felt the latest technical directive on pitstops would give “clarity” to the regulations that sensors must only be used passively, but sympathised with Mekies’ point about having more communication with the teams.
“I’ve read something that Laurent Mekies from Ferrari had said, and he said that he’d wished that they would just talk to us a little bit first, and I do kind of sympathise with that a little bit,” Permane said.
“There’s no doubt this will be better for us, that’s for sure. But these systems are so sophisticated and so specialised, and teams have an army of people working on them.
“I think it’s a shame that the FIA just come in with a sort of irrefutable blow. And I think [it would be better] if we can all sit down together and let us work out what is safe first, because there are some questions being raised about safety now.”