The FIA’s single-seater director, Nikolas Tombazis has admitted that the governing body intends to introduce factory inspections that give teams no advance notice.
It has always seemed odd, that, certainly in the UK, shops, factories, restaurants and the like are given advance notice of any official inspections, thereby giving them ample time to prepare.
And so it is with Formula One… for now.
Currently, factory visits to F1 facilities are commonplace, be it to check that the windtunnel regulations are being adhered to, staff numbers and, of course, the budget cap.
However, as it seeks to crack down the FIA is aiming to do away with giving teams advance notice of its inspections, and instead try to take them by surprise.
“We want to go to basically zero notice,” Tombazis tells Autosport. “We don’t think we should be just entering the door and going in,” he continues, “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.’
About ten, fifteen minutes,” he explains, “we want to get to the point where it’s really quite immediate. Where we don’t have to wait at the gate for another hour or something like that.”
One of the reasons for the current advance notice is a shortage of the necessary staff, however a recruitment drive by the sport’s governing body means it is now able to organise the visits more readily.
“We were aiming to expand it for quite a long time now, but we were a bit understaffed,” he admits. “We recently went to the target number of this team, and now that enables us to visit teams approximately every two or three weeks.”
News of the zero notice visits comes weeks after the FIA amended the 2024 regulations, ruling that work on teams’ 2026 cars cannot begin before the start of the 2025 season.
The increased number of inspectors and lack of advance notice will (hopefully) help ensure that everyone complies, though, as Max Noble, has long suggested, perhaps the visits should be extended to the teams’ suppliers and their suppliers and the like.