Mercedes chief Toto Wolff calls for a penalty rules to be reconsidered

‘We don’t want to have an arms race’: Mercedes chief Toto Wolff calls for a penalty rules to be ‘reconsidered’ after the chaotic scenes that led to multiple grid changes ahead of Italian Grand Prix

  • Mercedes Toto Wolff says the rules on grid penalties are too complicated 
  • Follows farcical scenes at the Italian Grand Prix where teams waited on placings 
  • Nine drives were hit with penalties in Monza following engine changes to cars  

Mercedes chief Toto Wolff believes the current Formula 1 engine penalty rules need to ‘reconsidered’ after the chaos at the Italian Grand Prix. 

Nine drivers received penalty points in Monza for taking new engine components to the vehicles, with teams identifying the fast Italian track as the best race to sacrifice possible grid placings as it was the ideal place for overtaking. 

However, what followed was a farcical few hours after the qualifiers, where because of the confusion over varying penalty types, it wasn’t known by anyone involved with the race which position drivers would be starting the race. 

Mercedes chief Toto Wolff believes changes need to made on F1’s penalty rules in the future

It took the FIA four hours to publish the official starting grid and its led to a debate over whether the current  system – where teams are punished with grid penalties unless the meet specific engine parts that can used in a season – needs revising. 

‘We need to reconsider [the system] when the engine cap kicks in.’ Wolff believes. 

‘But still, we don’t want to have an arms race on engines being brought because whatever freedom they give us, we will do it and we will do it even more strategically.’

Max Verstappen won the Italian Grand Prix only after multiple penalties were handed out 

The Austrian is aware though, that there needs to be some way of making sure teams don’t take advantage over the rules on changing parts.

He added: ‘If [a penalty] is only five or 10 places, we will blow an engine every race because it is going to be three-tenths [of a second] quicker than the one before. So there needs to be a certain deterrent.

‘On the chassis side, we are cost capped. We weren’t before. On the engine side, we are not cost-capped yet. If there are no grid penalties, we would have qualifying engines – not five but 20. The big teams would spend what they want in order to have an advantage and that is why there needs to be a certain factor that avoids that. That is where it is coming from.’ 

Ferrari’s Mattia Binotto is in agreement that something needs to change regarding penalties 

Wolff isn’t the only one who believes the rules need to be looked at in this current era. Ferrari’s Mattia Binotto also says there needs to be more clarity when it comes to the penalties. 

 ‘It took that long because there are different interpretations and the regulation is not clear enough,’ said the Italian.

‘That’s something we need to address certainly for the future. I think not only how we decide the grid position based on the penalties, but the amount of penalties we’ve got is too many as well. Maybe the three PUs per driver is too little for what we have achieved – maybe it needs to be reconsidered for the next seasons.’

The F1 Championship resumes next weekend in Singapore, with leader Max Verstappen looking to secure his second title in a row with a win on the Marina Bay Street circuit. 

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