The International Federation, having bolstered personnel for checks at F1 team factories, has decided to conduct surprise inspections, a departure from the past practice of scheduled visits. FIA commissioners must be welcomed at the facilities without long delays and must have unrestricted access to all areas. Previously, checks were planned, but now they will be surprise visits every two or three weeks.
Is someone trying to be clever in compliance with F1 rules? Doubts arise naturally when the FIA decides to conduct impromptu visits to teams without any prior notice. Inspections at the factories by the International Federation’s staff will no longer be scheduled well in advance but can be carried out unexpectedly.
This marks a toughening of the FIA’s stance, opting for a “zero notice” policy after teams enjoyed a more lenient approach to increasingly stringent factory inspections.
With the introduction of the budget cap, spending limits were imposed on teams, but simultaneously, more complex control regulations came into effect. Teams can now undergo inspections during which FIA personnel can scrutinize how facilities are managed and, crucially, whether strict limits regarding CFD testing, wind tunnel research, and the management of external personnel collaborating with the team are adhered to.
Moreover, attention is now focused on information that can be shared between two teams, making the possibility of catching someone “red-handed” a deterrent to prevent any attempts at clever maneuvers.
Show your support for Scuderia Ferrari with official merchandise collection! Click here to enter the F1 online Store and shop securely! And also get your F1 tickets for every race with VIP hospitality and unparalleled insider access. Click here for the best offers to support Charles and Carlos from the track!
It is clear that if visits to team headquarters were pre-arranged, the element of surprise was nonexistent, giving teams ample time to “prepare.” Nikolas Tombazis, the FIA’s Technical Director for Single-Seaters, has decided to change the approach, announcing that “…inspections will be carried out with zero notice. We do not expect our staff to be simply ushered into the factory by ringing the doorbell. Instead, we want to ensure that they might be preceded by a courtesy phone call alerting the team’s managers so that when the FIA delegation arrives, someone is ready to welcome them.”
In the past, there may have been situations where FIA delegates were forced to endure long waits before gaining access to the factory for inspections. “At most, it takes a quarter of an hour,” Nikolas Tombazis continued. “We don’t need to wait at the gates for an hour or more.”
The FIA’s action becomes more decisive because personnel available for inspections have finally been expanded, with a frequency of one every two or three weeks. Will we encounter surprises for those who, during this lax period, could rely on inspections that were not scheduled, almost as if anticipating them?