F1 engine penalties 'ridiculous' - Häkkinen
13 September 2017 – Double Formula 1 World Champion Mika Häkkinen has labelled the current engine and gearbox penalty system in the sport as "ridiculous", feeling that it is unfair to penalise drivers.
Under current regulations, drivers are permitted to use four of each of the six power unit elements per season, and are handed a five- or 10-place penalty each time that allocation is exceeded.
Drivers are also penalised five places on the grid if their gearbox does not last for six consecutive events.
At the recent Italian Grand Prix, 150 places worth of grid penalties were issued for engine or gearbox penalties, with eight drivers in receipt of a sanction.
Häkkinen, World Champion with McLaren in 1998/99, believes the current set-up needs to change.
"It is ridiculous that a driver should be put to the back of the grid because his engine needs new parts," Häkkinen wrote in his Unibet column.
"I realise it is easy to criticise this system, and hard to come up with the right alternative, but it is simply the case that the driver is not guilty if the team or its supplier has to use new parts.
"When I was racing in Formula 1 we had penalties, particularly if you were naughty on track and the race stewards decided a punishment was required.
"But that is normal, and we still have those kinds of penalties for drivers today. Under certain circumstances, there would be a financial penalty just to make sure you took it seriously."
Häkkinen feels that teams or engine manufacturers should be penalised, enabling drivers to start from wherever they qualified, thus boosting the spectacle for fans.
"The engine and gearbox penalties today are completely on another level and unfair on the drivers," Häkkinen mused.
"The teams and engine companies know the rules when they design and develop the cars, or bring upgrades to them.
"So when they get their sums wrong and need to make changes it is the teams and engine suppliers who should be penalised, not the drivers who want to race and the fans who expect to see their heroes start the race from the position they qualified.
"The current system is like a child being naughty at school, but instead of the child being punished the whole family gets into trouble!
"It does not really make much sense, and penalties make it very difficult for the fans to follow."