Formula 1 teams have been discussing a potential relaxation of parc ferme regulations, and are keen to see the rules evolved as opposed to removed.

Introduced to prevent teams from creating bespoke cars for qualifying and races, parc ferme refers to the secure area where the FIA carries out scrutineering of the legality and safety of machinery over the course of a grand prix weekend.

In modern F1, the phrase ‘parc ferme conditions’ is also used to refer to the limited work that can be carried out on cars between leaving the garage for the first time in qualifying, and when the chequered flag drops on Sunday.

Paired with the extension of curfews for teams, parc ferme has helped teams to cut back expenses following the enforcement of the cost cap since 2021.

However, the expanding use of F1’s Sprint format has provided teams with even less time to perfect setups before cars enter parc ferme, after which major changes become inaccessible without penalty.

With just one hour of practice before entering competitive running, Charles Leclerc and Lewis Hamilton were both disqualified from the United States Grand Prix after exceeding plank wear allowances in Austin.

The FIA acknowledged that the disqualifications were likely due to the practice limitations of the Sprint format which has prompted calls from team representatives for a relaxation in the rules.

“Parc ferme, we are discussing about it,” said Ferrari sporting director Diego Ioverno. “The original [reason for parc ferme] was to prevent teams from doing crazy things from qualifying into the race.

Sergio Perez (MEX) Red Bull Racing in Sprint Qualifying parc ferme.
29.07.2023. Formula 1 World Championship, Rd 13, Belgian Grand Prix, Spa Francorchamps, Belgium, Sprint Day.
–, EMail: © Copyright: Batchelor / XPB Images

“But there is also another aspect: that is to protect teams from themselves, because engineers have always a lot of fantasy and sometimes mechanics are a bit too stressed,” Ioverno argued in Sao Paulo.

“I think there is still some merit in parc ferme rules. Probably we may relax some of them because there are other ways to control what we are doing. There is the budget cap limitation, tracing of parts…

“I don’t think we will get rid of parc ferme completely, but we are discussing these amongst others with the FIA.”

Tom McCullough, Aston Martin’s performance director, added that he would welcome flexibility in the rules to allow teams to react to changeable weather conditions.

“There’s a lot of good things about when parc ferme was introduced,” he stated. “I think it’s a matter of evolving the rules to achieve what we’re all trying to achieve.

“We allow certain things to be changed: you can change brake material, you can do various bits and bobs.

“Obviously, we can’t change the skids and the plank on the car, therefore you’ve got to make some decisions on very limited running very early.

“There are things like the weather that affects that – a headwind to a tailwind and a big straight can influence that and forecasting that three days in advance is tough.

“So, I think tweaks to the regulations are always welcome from an engineering side of things, but I don’t think we should get rid of it.”

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