The FIA is looking into the prospect of introducing surprise factory inspections without prior notice in an effort to strictly enforce adherence to regulations.
The FIA has made the decision to improve its oversight over Formula 1 teams by randomly inspecting their places of operation. This action represents a significant change in how the sport’s governing body guarantees regulation compliance and is a response to the regulations’ growing complexities.
The rationale behind this decision is the complexity of F1 regulations, which cover a range of team operations aspects such as aerodynamics testing, the use of computational fluid dynamics (CFD), cost caps and the involvement of third-party employees.
The FIA frequently checks F1 factories to make sure that these regulations have been adhered to.
Before performing factory inspections, the FIA has traditionally provided teams ample notice beforehand. However, this system has limitations, especially when it comes to identifying teams that might be attempting to violate the rules.
The FIA’s head of single seater affairs Nikolas Tombazis has revealed a plan to remedy this by conducting more random inspections.
“We want to go to basically zero notice,” he explained. “We don’t think we should be just entering the door and going in.
“But we do think it would be right to have a process in place where we can just phone them, and somebody comes out and picks up these people and they can say: ‘I want to go and see the wind tunnel or whatever.'”
Tombazis proposed that inspections by the FIA should not call for them to wait outside a factory for an extended period of time.
“About 10/15 minutes, we want to get to the point where it’s really quite immediate,” he added. “We don’t have to wait at the gate for another hour or something like that.”
After adding more staff to help with factory inspections for the Formula 1 teams, the governing body feels it is now in a position to perform these inspections every two weeks.
“We were aiming to expand it [the team of factory inspectors] for quite a long time now, but we were a bit understaffed,” said Tombazis. “We recently went to the target number of this team, and now that enables us to visit teams approximately every two or three weeks.”
Word leaked out about the zero notice visits weeks after the FIA changed the 2024 rules to prohibit teams working on their 2026 cars before the 2025 season officially started.
The absence of notice beforehand and the increased number of inspectors should help guarantee compliance from all teams. However, as Max Noble has long recommended, maybe the visits should also include the teams’ suppliers.