Force India handed 25,000 euro suspended fine
The Force India F1 team has been given a suspended fine of 25,000 euro after the FIA stewards deemed that its car numbers failed to comply with the new interpretation of the sporting regulations.
Prior to the Spanish GP teams were told to put larger numbers on their cars to ensure that they were visible from the front, as per the long-standing regulations.
In addition there was request to put either numbers or the driver's TLA – the three letter abbreviation – on the side of the car.
Force India kept its front number in its established position on the top of the nose, similar to that on the Red Bull.
However, despite passing scrutineering and no issues being raised during the weekend, the team was reported after the race.
The stewards noted that fine was suspended for 12 months because the team hadn't been challenged before the race, the numbers had not changed since scrutineering, and because the team had offered to work with the FIA to rectify the situation.
"We clearly we thought we were in compliance," sporting director Andy Stevenson told Motorsport.com. "Because we showed the FIA our intentions at the race in Sochi, and they weren't questioned.
"The number on the car hasn't moved all year, it's only increased in size, as requested by the FIA in a directive from Charlie Whiting.
"The sporting regulations say the number has to be clearly visible from the front of the car. If you were to stand in front of the car and just about to be run over, you would see the number!
"With that said, we can agree in the interests of the sport that the number isn't visible from all angles at the front of the car, and that's what we're going to resolve."
Stevenson confirmed that the team was happy to make the requested change.
"The confusing thing for us is that we believed we were compliant because nobody spoke to us until after the race. The scrutineers actually checked the numbers on the cars on the Thursday. New guidelines have been set out, which are maybe not as clear as we needed them to be, but we're happy to get on with it.
"We just think it didn't need to follow the route of going through the stewards. We're also not the only team with our forward number in that position, but we appear to be the only team to have been spoken to."
While most teams put their side numbers on the shark fin, Force India put its on the top of the sidepods, which meant they were hard to see from ground level.
While not actually covered by the regulations, that decision may have contributed to the FIA taking action on the front number.
"We've been asked by the FIA to display either the TLA or the number of the driver on the external bodywork on each side of the car. That's not a rule, that's a request. We felt we were doing a good thing putting the number there, because they are clearly visible from the grandstand and clearly visible from higher shots when the car is on track."
Stevenson noted that the team could not use the fin because the space was already fully taken by its main sponsor.
"The issue we have is that we have sponsorship contracts in place. We can't be in breach of contracts when rules or regulations haven't been changed. If we complied with the regulation in the first four races, what's changed?
"In the interests of the sport, we're happy to move them. We're actually doing a filming day this week, which gives us the added advantage that we can go back and look at the footage and try to ensure its visible from as many angles as possible.
"One thing to note is that needs to be a sign-off process with the FIA. Our feeling was that we passed scrutineering, nobody had spoken to us before Sunday, and everybody was happy."
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|Location||Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya|
|Article type||Breaking news|