The recent controversy surrounding Haas’ appeal regarding alleged track limit violations at the Austin Grand Prix has sent shockwaves through the Formula 1 community. In response to this incident, the FIA (Fédération Internationale de l’Automobile) is gearing up to implement significant modifications to its regulations. These changes are aimed at making the appeal process more stringent and giving Formula 1 teams an additional opportunity to reconsider before pursuing an appeal.
One of the key adjustments on the horizon is the introduction of a fee for lodging an appeal, a departure from the current no-charge system. Additionally, the time frame for teams to submit a request for a review will be dramatically reduced, shrinking from the existing 14-day window to just four days. It’s worth noting that discussions about these rule changes were already underway well before Haas’ appeal was rejected last week.
The 2023 season has seen a notable surge in review requests from various teams, including Ferrari following the Australian Grand Prix, McLaren after the Austrian Grand Prix, and Aston Martin in the wake of the Jeddah Grand Prix. In response to this trend, the FIA is taking proactive steps to encourage teams to exercise caution and think twice before opting for an appeal.
The proposed changes to the International Sporting Code and the FIA’s own judicial rules are scheduled for implementation in 2024, pending approval at the Annual General Assembly in December. It’s important to emphasize that these changes will apply not only to Formula 1 but to all FIA competitions across the board.
Previously, there was no specific time limit for submitting a “right of review” request, allowing teams to potentially dispute the outcome of a race conducted months earlier. This duration was subsequently shortened to 14 days, a window that Haas fully utilized to compile its evidence.
Under the upcoming adjustments, the window for submitting a “right of review” request will be further reduced to a mere 96 hours from the conclusion of the event. However, under special circumstances, stewards will retain the authority to extend this deadline to 120 hours, providing some flexibility in exceptional cases.
Another significant change will be the implementation of an appeal filing fee, set at €6,000. Importantly, this fee will only be refunded if the stewards uphold the right of review. These changes reflect the FIA’s commitment to making the appeal system more robust and accountable.
One of the challenges with the existing system is that teams can submit a “notice of intention to appeal” and then have four days to decide whether to proceed with a formal appeal. However, a “notice of intention to appeal” can suspend a penalty, creating a potential loophole.
In the new system, if a “notice of appeal” is withdrawn, the case will still be forwarded to the International Court of Appeal. This means that the team in question may face penalties if it is determined that they benefited from the procedure, adding an extra layer of scrutiny and fairness to the process.
Additionally, teams will now be required to pay the appeal fee in advance, concurrently with the “notice of intention to appeal.” This change aims to streamline the process and eliminate any ambiguity regarding financial commitments.
In conclusion, the FIA’s forthcoming modifications to the appeal system underscore the organization’s commitment to maintaining the integrity and fairness of Formula 1 competitions. These changes, though prompted by recent events, are designed to benefit the sport as a whole and ensure that appeals are made with careful consideration and transparency.