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Formula 1

RN365 Debates: Should teams be given compensation if they're not to blame for a crash?

RacingNews365 journalists Thomas Maher and Nigel Chiu have their say on whether F1 teams should be awarded a financial boost if their drivers suffer significant damage which is not their fault.

Column
To news overview © Red Bull Contentpool

Following two weekends when cars have been heavily damaged due to a mistake from other drivers, Red Bull team principal Christian Horner and Ferrari team boss Mattia Binotto believe Formula 1 need to look at the budget cap and whether accident damage should come under it.

Max Verstappen was forced to change his power unit due to a crack which was caused his big crash at Silverstone when he made contact with Lewis Hamilton. The cost to repair his RB16B was £1.3m whilst Hamilton was given a 10-second penalty and won the race.

Sergio Perez and Charles Leclerc lost their engines at the Hungarian Grand Prix because of mistakes from Valtteri Bottas and Lance Stroll. All four drivers retired from the race but Perez and Leclerc are set to take grid penalties later in the season.

Is it fair that this happens and what can be done?

Nigel Chiu: F1 already has enough rules

On paper, it sounds like a good idea that the FIA or even a rival team gives a team compensation but this would mean another big decision to make for the stewards.

Will compensation be given for small accidents? How do you determine how much money should be given? How much does a driver need to be blamed to get to a level to give compensation? It would get seriously complicated and the F1 rule book is already complex.

Adding more rules and having financial debates behind closed doors is not what F1 is about. Crashes happen, mistakes happen, this has been the case since 1950 and will never change. It would ultimately come down to people's opinion which will create even more animosity.

One thing that should change is repairing accident damage should not come under the budget cap. Any other talk of compensation is far too complicated and mistakes, crashes and incidents a part of any motorsport.

A lot goes on in the F1 paddock so throwing a cost exchange element in there would create more unnecessary havoc when the focus should be on the racing. F1 should be making things more simple, rather than adding rules even if it does mean some teams suffer some misfortune.

Smaller teams have had to deal with this situation forever, so now the bigger teams such as Red Bull and Ferrari know how other constructors have been feeling for decades.

Thomas Maher: Great in theory, but a complicated mess to implement

While racing has always been about taking your lumps when luck doesn't go your way, the implementation of a budget cap this year has raised some interesting new quandaries that don't appear to have easy solutions.

After all, it is completely unfair that teams have to foot the bill for damage in crashes that they are the innocent party in. At the moment, it's Red Bull you have to feel most sorry for. Their two drivers were blameless in the Hungary melee while, at Silverstone, the stewards ruled that Max Verstappen was less to blame for the collision with Lewis Hamilton that left Red Bull with a huge repair bill and an upcoming engine grid penalty.

Similarly for Ferrari and McLaren, with Charles Leclerc, Lando Norris and Daniel Ricciardo all being taken out while being extremely careful themselves. Why should their teams have to take huge repair bills and resulting penalties when the stewards rule someone else is to blame?

In theory, it would be great to be able to implement a fair and equitable payout structure in these situations. In the case of Hungary, the stewards have handed out sporting penalties to both Lance Stroll and Valtteri Bottas. Why can't there also be a financial penalty that forces Aston Martin and Mercedes to hand out money, taken from their own budget cap, to offset the financial costs for the affected team?

Of course, this would require a complete reworking of the regulations, and it would be complicated due to the subjectivity of incidents on track. While Hungary was pretty clear-cut, very few accidents are as easy to apportion blame. A suggestion would be that there has to be a certain minimum level of damage, measurable to exact and defined financial figures, in order to trigger the payout regulations.

A suggestion from Dieter Rencken on the RacingNews365 F1 Podcast this week is to have a clear structure for the stewards to assign every incident with a set status. Once this status is assigned, the issue of payouts can be figured out.

My suggestion, which is potentially less complicated but opens up a different set of problems, would be that affected, and steward-absolved, teams simply have to suck up the financial side of things. But, if any parts that are under quota for the year are compromised or damaged, they are entitled to a swap without penalty for a new, same specification, one.

This damage would need to be properly verified by the FIA before permission is granted to replace. In the case of Hungary, this would mean Ferrari's Charles Leclerc and Red Bull's Sergio Perez would be permitted to fit new engines of the same specification without any grid penalties.

The small sporting advantage this would give them in terms of a fresher power unit would be offset by the fact that they were taken out, innocently, in the first place and still have to take the financial hit. And, to ensure there's no 'interesting tactics' used, only a car that's running in the top ten at the time of the incident can avail of this dispensation. After all, no-one is going to sacrifice a points finish..

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