Boullier: F1 grid penalties could be financial and place drops

McLaren racing director Eric Boullier says the FIA engine penalty system won’t be dramatically overhauled for 2018 but could be altered to include financial hits to make up for the heavy grid drops.

Since the introduction of the engine parts cap in the V6 hybrid era teams have struggled to work within the maximum number of units permitted per season and incurred hefty grid penalties as a result.

For the Japanese Grand Prix alone, McLaren-Honda’s engine change for a hydraulics leak on Fernando Alonso’s car gave him a 35-place drop – despite there only being 20 cars on the grid – while over the course of 2017 his grid penalty total has already ballooned to 140.

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Jolyon Palmer and Carlos Sainz Jr were also slapped with respective 20-place grid drops at Suzuka for additional engine component switches. In conjunction with Valtteri Bottas and Kimi Raikkonen taking grid drops for gearbox changes, a quarter of the entire grid was penalised while only the top four remained in their same starting positions from qualifying.

The issue has come under heavy criticism by F1 fans and teams with change being encouraged but McLaren’s Boullier doesn’t believe drastic rule switches will be introduced for 2018 – when the amount of engine units will be dropped again to three for the entire season.

“I don’t think the penalty system will be changed,” Boullier said. “It’s more the number and the way it is calculated which is a little bit frustrating or difficult to understand for everybody.

“There is some consideration now to think of something different which could be easier to understand.

“It could be financial, it could be something else, or a mix between sporting and financial. Debating now is too early, the discussion hasn’t even started yet, but it has been raised as a topic.”

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