Christian Horner: 'This engine has done nothing positive for Formula 1'
Red Bull boss slams engine penalty rules after Monza grid farce
By Pete Gill at Monza
Last Updated: 30/09/17 8:49am
Red Bull boss Christian Horner has called for an urgent review of F1's engine-penalty rules in the wake of the Italian GP being transformed by grid demotions.
Nearly half the field took grid penalties for Sunday's race, with their cumulative total reaching 150 positions, and only four cars started the race from the position they actually qualified in.
"It needs a serious look at to see whether there is a better way to penalise a manufacturer or an entrant as opposed to messing around with the grid," said Horner. "It is only going to get worse towards the end [of the season] and it would be a shame to see this championship decided on grid penalties."
In a scathing rebuke of the V6 power units introduced for the start of F1's new hybrid era in 2014, Horner added: "This engine has done nothing positive for Formula 1 since it was introduced."
What do the rules say?
For 2017, every driver is limited to just four power units for the entire season with the power unit defined as being comprised of six elements - the internal combustion engine, the motor generator unit-kinetic, the motor generator unit-heat, the energy store, turbocharger and control electronics. If any of those elements are used more than four times, a penalty is then imposed.
However, Horner has warned the situation is only likely to worsen next year when fewer power units will be permitted without penalty despite the calendar consisting of 21 races.
"What concerns me is that we are going to three engines for next year with more races. To me, that should be number one on the agenda at the next Strategy Group meeting," he said. "I tried to get it changed at a meeting earlier in the year but there was no support for it. I would hope that would perhaps be different with teams staring down the barrel of further penalties between now and the end of the year.
"Obviously the penalty has to be a significant deterrent because the whole point of this was cost-saving. But we're not saving costs because the engines are going on a world tour anyway. Maybe five engines is the right number rather than four going to three."
Grid confusion reigns at Monza
Both of Horner's Red Bull drivers were among the group penalised for Sunday's race with the composition of the grid bearing little comparison to the results of qualifying - or the penalties officially served.
For Red Bull, Max Verstappen qualified second, took a 20-place penalty and started 13th. Team-mate Ricciardo was third fastest on Saturday, served a 25-place hit and then lined up 16th. Conversely, Sauber's Marcus Ericsson was 18th fastest in qualifying but began the race 11th, while both Jolyon Palmer of Renault and Toro Rosso's Carlos Sainz took 10-place grid demotions only to start from exactly the positions they had qualified in.
An hour before the race it was officially confirmed Sergio Perez, 11th quickest in qualifying, took a five-position demotion for a gearbox change. Nevertheless, Perez's Force India was then classified as starting in 10th despite Force India themselves originally tweeting they expected the Mexican to start in 12th.
"It's hard enough for us to understand," admitted Horner. "Going to the grid we were still trying to understand whether we would be 12th or 13th. Perez had picked up a penalty but he had picked it up before or after someone? It's too confusing."
FIA president Jean Todt told Sky F1 at Monza that the sport's powerbrokers would look at the penalty situation in forthcoming meetings but warned that workable alternative solutions were not necessarily easy to find.