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Tougher F1 inspections to evade suspicions, says FIA

The engine of the Ferrari Sf90 in the pits during previews ahead of the F1 Grand Prix of Spain. (Photo by Marco Canoniero/LightRocket via Getty Images)

The FIA introduced more in-depth car inspections after every Grand Prix session, with the selection being at random. According to an FIA steward, it is made to evade any suspicion between the teams as the cars become more complex.

“The reason for this process is because obviously cars have become more and more complicated, and very difficult to dismantle,” said FIA’s head of single-seater technical matters, Nikolas Tombazis.

“And also, in a race weekend, there’s very few opportunities, or no opportunities, to actually go into enough detail.”

Nikolas said that teams are “deeply” suspicious of their rivals, mentioning that some things “may have happened” under the FIA’s radar. Now, with the new inspection method, Tombazis is confident the organization will be able to identify any wrongdoing by thoroughly checking the cars.

“All teams are deeply suspicious of their competitors, and they think, well, maybe team X or Y is doing something. And I’m sure that maybe on occasion, some things may have happened below our radar.

“We don’t have any suspicions or anything now, but we thought it’s a good practice to start checking cars a bit more thoroughly.”

The FIA has added three new staff members to help with the process. They also require teams to have engineers ready to assist the FIA during the inspections should any question arise.

“On Sunday after the race, they need to have the necessary support back at base if necessary,” Tombazis said. “We don’t want them to tell us ‘John is actually at a barbecue. Sorry, we don’t have the guy.’ We want that guy to be available.

“Clearly we hope that we never find something wrong because we don’t want people to be cheating of course. But in the remote chance that there was somebody cheating we would like the team when we start the check to tell us the other car is the same or not the same.

“If we have any suspicion about any car, we can still select any other car to do the same, it doesn’t chance our normal operation in any way or shape. But being random means it can theoretically hit every car anytime and therefore if somebody had something dodgy, they will think about it twice.

“The copying side, we do other checks for that. And we’ve done some already, for example, this year, and these are separate. These are more CAD and so on. They’re not what we’re doing Sunday night,” Tombazis concluded.

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