The arrival of the Sprint Qualifying at the Silverstone weekend will bring about a considerable change in the teams’ work plans. One of the aspects that will have the most impact will be the parc fermé regime which will come into effect on Friday, before the qualifying session which will start in the late afternoon.
From that moment the cars will no longer be touched by the teams with the exception of some consumable components, i.e. brake discs, pads, filters and of course, any damaged parts (exactly as happens today at the end of qualifying on Saturday) which can be replaced. .
The substantial difference with the new format is that an early parc fermé will result in the obligation to compete in parc fermé both the Qualifying Race and the free practice session on Saturday morning, or about 250 kilometers more than usual.
A distance that has alarmed McLaren, Aston Martin and Alpine, whose clutch system is usually overhauled after 350 kilometers, or the usual qualifying and race mileage.
The three teams pointed out to the FIA that the system was designed taking into account the sporting regulations launched before the start of the season, therefore with distances in line with the traditional format, subsequently modified with the inclusion in three races of the Sprint Qualifying without guarantee teams sufficient notice to be able to modify a complex system such as that of the clutch.
Initially the FIA technicians had liquidated the matter by inviting the three teams to carry out fewer starting tests, but in the face of the protest of the teams, who stressed that it is a matter of wear not connected to the start test, a compromise was reached.
Teams that are afraid of accusing their clutch reliability problems will have to deliver an original component to the FIA on the eve of the weekend, allowing the technicians of the International Federation to be able to check the state of wear of the same clutch mounted on the single-seaters after the FP2 session or after the Sprint Qualifying.
If wear is found to be such as to jeopardize the reliability of the component, the team will be able to replace it, as happens for the parts of the single-seaters that are victims of accidents or an off-track during qualifying.
The FIA has granted this possibility only for the remaining weekends of the 2021 calendar, inviting the teams to foresee a clutch capable of covering the entire distance of a weekend, Sprint Qualifying included, in view of next year.