OCTOBER 11, 2022

Rule confusion risks alienating F1 fans

Formula 1 needs to be "careful" not to alienate its fans with overly complex rules.

Max Verstappen, Japanese GP 2022
© Red Bull

Formula 1 needs to be "careful" not to alienate its fans with overly complex rules.

The entire paddock and F1 world, including Red Bull, was caught by surprise when Max Verstappen was declared world champion some 20 minutes after he won Sunday's Japanese GP.

"We were sure there would only be full points if 75 percent of the race was completed. That's why we assumed we were missing a point," team boss Christian Horner told Sky Deutschland.

It turns out that a rule allowed full points to be granted if a red-flagged race is then restarted.

"I have to say, along with a few others, I was one of the people who initiated the rewriting of this rule," admitted Alpine sporting boss Alan Permane.

"What happened is absolutely in line with what is in the rules," he added. "I'm just not sure if it is what was intended."

McLaren boss Andreas Seidl agreed: "We hadn't thought about the way the points were handed out in this case.

"It was not the intention of the FIA or the teams - it looks like we may have all overlooked this loophole, so we are all responsible for it."

Horner is now expecting the rule to be tweaked for 2023.

"I'm sure that will happen," said the Red Bull boss.

Indeed, many fans are accusing the FIA of deliberately favouring Red Bull and Verstappen, with former F1 driver Ralf Schumacher at least agreeing that the governing body did not handle the situation well.

"If you look at the rule, you can almost talk about arbitrariness. But that's not the problem," he told Sky Deutschland.

"The FIA should at least have displayed the rule beforehand so that people around the world weren't doing the maths. They could have said right away that they saw it as a full race.

"The way it went on Sunday was really not good. Even Christian Horner and Dr Helmut Marko were surprised."

Even one of the longest-serving journalists in the paddock, Blick newspaper's Roger Benoit, surmised that it appeared as though the FIA had "pulled a new rule out of a hat".

Bild newspaper concluded: "Formula 1 must be careful not to scare the fans away with their confusing rules."