Scheckter calls for changes to grid penalties and expanding F1 calendar

In an exclusive interview with Total-Motorsport.com, Jody Scheckter discussed grid penalties in Formula 1 and the expanding calendar

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Former world champion Jody Scheckter has hit out at track limits and grid penalties in Formula 1, arguing they are false and take away from the spectacle of a Grand Prix.

In recent years the outcome of a race has been dramatically changed through a track-limits breach or multiple drivers receiving grid penalties for a variety of issues.

“It just seems false,” Scheckter exclusively told Total Motorsport.com. “It’s a different feeling from a driver on how to approach it. I think they’re should be higher curbs.

“I don’t like grid penalties. I don’t understand how they made such stupid rules. If you have a crash and your gearbox breaks, you get a penalty. You’ve already got a penalty because you’ve crashed.

“What does it achieve? Nothing really. Makes something even worse. It takes away from the excitement for a spectator. You want to see two guys driving against each other.

“You can’t go back to unfix it like you used to and get back on why? I mean, you just if you if you’re wanting to see that guy is all of a sudden. In Monaco if you’ve got a penalty, you might as well go home.”

Teams need to adapt to potential burnout

The rapidly expanding F1 calendar has become a problem for both teams and drivers as now two crews are required to complete the season.

Previously drivers would complete in in-season testing between events, but rule changes have restricted that over the last 15 years. 

“It’s hard for me to say,” said Scheckter when asked if he felt there were too many races nowadays.

“I mean, we used to do testing between each race. So we didn’t have so many races. I think we had 17 at one time and then you can get burnout.

“The championship year was stress all the way for me, but it is what it is. You’ve got to adapt. I think a lot of the people are getting burned out but they’re now having one and a half teams.

“The driver is the guy you couldn’t replace all the time but the rest of the crew you can some guys go some guys not.”

Yuki Tsunoda of Japan and Scuderia AlphaTauri prepares to drive in the garage during day one of 2023 F1 Testing in Bahrain | Peter Fox/Getty Images / Red Bull Content Pool

Bringing F1 to the next generation

Ever since retiring from racing, Scheckter has run a biodynamic farm in Hampshire producing products such as buffalo mozzarella and buffalo milk ice cream.

In the summer Scheckter’s farm hosts ‘Carfest’ complete with race track and it was there where he approached former F1 chairman Chase Carey about an idea of getting kids involved into the sport.

“I spoke to him about it,” said Scheckter. “I wanted to do a F1 experience for kids. So a paddock club up at the top and and have some competitive very small races.

“With the prize being going to a Grand Prix as a guest of somebody, I think it could be brilliant because we’ve got a racetrack [on the farm].

“Then a friend of mine helped me get probably the best selection of Formula One cars from 1908 right up to [a modern] Williams it was spectacular.”

Ed Spencer
Ed Spencer
FIA accredited journalist
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