The FIA will be able to outlaw innovations that “destroy the whole principle” of the 2021 regulations almost instantly if one team exploits a loophole, according to Formula 1’s managing director of motorsport, Ross Brawn.
Currently, any changes to the regulations during a season requires the unanimous agreement of all the teams, but with the 2021 rules designed to improve racing, the FIA and Formula 1 have worked closely together to deliver a radical new set of regulations. Both parties have also spent time trying to exploit any weaknesses in the original wording in order to close off as many loopholes as possible, and Brawn explained that there are no measures in place to allow the sport to react quickly if a single team takes advantage in a way that was never intended.
“The governance in the past has been the teams have to all agree to make a change,” Brawn said. “We’re pushing through governance where we can make changes much more on short notice than at the present time.
“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 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.’”
The intention is to create clear boundaries for the teams to work in with regards to the technical regulations, and Brawn insists F1 and the FIA will make it clear to the teams that they want unique ideas to be pursued and will try to protect ones that are deemed within the spirit of the rules.
“A great idea is the exploitation of the regulations within what was intended. 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.
“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 blown diffuser played a big part in helping the team win both world championships in 2009] — 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 penalize 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.”