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FIA Changes Grid Penalties for F1, Releases 2018 Schedule

By Adam Tate, Associate Editor

The FIA has released the 2018 calendar, finally confirming the Brazilian Grand Prix, but they did urge for increased security measures next November in Sao Paulo.

They also made a change to the controversial system of grid penalties, as 2018 will see the drivers limited to just three power units for the season. The move is meant to prevent the confusion fans experienced in 2017 over how drivers ended up so heavily penalized throughout the season. Penalties used to incur any time a number of elements of the power unit had an unscheduled change, this included the engine, turbo, MGU-H, and MGU-K. When a driver moved onto their fifth element of any of these components they were handed a 10 place grid penalty. If other elements were changed as well, another 5 place grid penalty was added on. The Gearbox penalty is remaining the same.

This harsh penalty is what resulted in many of the 20, 30, 40 plus grid penalty positions suffered by the likes of McLaren this season.

What the FIA decided yesterday at the final World Motorsport Council meeting of the year was to simplify these rules a bit. Now that the drivers are limited to just three power units for the season before incurring penalties, any driver who reaches the 15 grid penalty level, (changing three components) will automatically be sent to the back of the grid. Should multiple drivers endure such a fate, as we know they will, they will line up on the grid in order of when their penalty was first announced.

In theory this simplifies things, but I can already see it leading to controversy as it almost rewards the teams who fail first, and those who make power unit component and/or gearboxes changes at the start of a Grand Prix weekend will have an advantage over those who suffer later misfortune or don’t make the changes as quickly.

2018 Formula 1 Schedule

March 25th – Australian Grand Prix – Melbourne

April 8th – Bahrain Grand Prix – Sakhir

April 15th – Chinese Grand Prix – Shanghai

April 29th – Azerbaijan Grand Prix – Baku

May 13th – Spanish Grand Prix – Barcelona

May 27th – Monaco Grand Prix – Monte Carlo

June 10th – Canadian Grand Prix – Montreal

June 24th – French Grand Prix – Paul Ricard

July 1st – Austrian Grand Prix – Spielberg

July 8th – British Grand Prix – Silverstone

July 22nd – German Grand Prix – Hockenheim

July 29th – Hungarian Grand Prix – Budapest

August 26th – Belgian Grand Prix – Spa-Francorchamps

September 2nd – Italian Grand Prix – Monza

September 16th – Singapore Grand Prix – Singapore

September 30th – Russian Grand Prix – Sochi

October 7th – Japanese Grand Prix – Suzuka

October 21st – U.S. Grand Prix – Austin

October 28th – Mexican Grand Prix – Mexico City

November 11th – Brazilian Grand Prix – Sao Paulo

November 25th – Abu Dhabi Grand Prix – Abu Dhabi

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Associate Editor of Motorsports Tribune and jack of all trades, Adam is our resident Formula 1 expert. He has covered F1, IndyCar, WEC, IMSA, NASCAR, PWC and more. His work has been featured on multiple outlets including AutoWeek and A MT Co-founder, Adam has been with us since the beginning when he and Joey created Tribute Racing back in 2012. When not at the track or writing about cars, Adam can be found enjoying the Oregon back roads in his GTI.