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FIA simplifies Formula 1 engine penalty system for 2018

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The FIA has confirmed plans to simplify the way Formula 1 engine penalties are applied for the 2018 season following concerns about their complexity.

The limit of four usages of each component throughout the F1 season has led to a number of grid penalties being racked up by drivers in recent years, particularly towards the end of the season.

Toro Rosso driver Brendon Hartley was hit with penalties for all four of his grand prix starts towards the end of 2017, while numerous drivers received grid drops they could not serve in full, leading to confusion over how the field would start at times.

In a bid to make things more straightforward, the FIA confirmed following the World Motor Sport Council meeting in Paris on Wednesday that from 2018, drivers amassing more than 15 places worth of engine penalties will immediately be sent to the back of the grid.

“A change to the power unit penalty system was also approved, whereby if a driver incurs a penalty exceeding 15 grid places he will be required to start the race from the back of the starting grid,” the WMSC statement reads.

“If more than one driver receives such a penalty they will be arranged at the back of the grid in the order in which the offenses were committed.”

The WMSC also confirmed a number of other tweaks to F1’s sporting and technical regulations for the 2018 season:

  • Regulations relating to procedures for starting or resuming a race behind the safety car
  • Changing the event timetable to increase flexibility
  • Ensuring that testing of previous cars may only take place on tracks currently holding an FIA Grade 1 or 1T licence
  • Provision for demonstration events in previous cars which does not constitute testing. No such demonstrations may exceed 50km in length and only tires manufactured specifically for this purpose by the appointed supplier may be used
  • Changes to ensure that oil cannot be used as fuel
  • Introduction of a detailed specification for oil
  • A minimum weight and volume for energy storage (batteries)
  • Changes to position of cameras and wing mirrors to accommodate the Halo

MRTI: Keith Donegan earns Mazda Shootout Scholarship

Photo: Indianapolis Motor Speedway, LLC Photography
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Dublin, Ireland’s Keith Donegan claimed a $200K scholarship from Mazda after emerging victorious at the second annual Mazda Road to Indy Shootout. The 20-year-old Donegan earned an at-large nomination for the scholarship based on his performance at this year’s Formula Ford Festival, in which he finished second in the final, and emerged from a pack of 17 drivers from across the globe to claim the scholarship.

“It really hasn’t hit me yet,” said an emotional Donegan, who earlier in his career actually spent two years away from racing as he focused on academics. “The weekend was really good and I enjoyed it. I have to say a huge thanks to Mazda and Cooper Tires and everyone at the Mazda Road to Indy. I enjoyed every moment. Throughout the weekend we were consistent and I kept the small things in check. I didn’t make any stupid mistakes and kept my head cool and that really paid off in the end.”

The two-day shootout was held at the Bondurant Racing School in Arizona and saw the nominated drivers tackle the school’s 1.6-mile circuit in Formula Mazda race cars before facing on and off-track assessments. Donegan was selected by a panel of judges that included former driver and current Verizon IndyCar Series TV analyst Scott Goodyear, Mazda drivers Tom Long, Andrew Carbonell, and Jonathan Bomarito, as well as Victor Franzoni – the current champion of the Pro Mazda Championship Presented by Cooper Tires – and Oliver Askew, the current champion of the Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship Powered by Mazda.

Donegan was humbled to be in the presence of drivers who have won scholarships and championships previously, and added that he is grateful to have the opportunity to continue his racing career.

“You see all these champions here today that will go on to great things in the future and I’m sure the names you see here today aren’t going to disappear,” Donegan added. “They will be back up there and I’m sure I will be racing them again some day. It is an unbelievable opportunity to be given and for Mazda to provide that for any young driver. It just gives that bit of motivation that you need because the [U.S.] is where you need to go to become a professional these days. It is such a boost to my career.”

Donegan is now slated to join the 2018 USF2000 championship, with further announcements regarding the team with whom he’ll be racing to come in the future.

Follow @KyleMLavigne