Formula 1's title contenders could be forced to delay the introduction of vital car updates because of the risk of potential customs delays in India.
With the championship battle finely poised at the moment, teams are eager to bring forward performance improvements because of the big impact that could have on their chances.
However, because of the bureaucratic nature of the customs service in India, where the next race takes place on Oct. 28, there is the chance that new parts getting flown in at the last minute may not make it through to the track in time. Teams are now weighing up whether or not it is worth fast-tracking items for the next race, or elect instead to take them to Abu Dhabi.
Ferrari's sporting director Massimo Rivola said on Friday in Korea that his squad was aware of the issues, but that because of its competitive situation it would have to think hard about what it did with developments it has planned.
"It is a bit of a problem, that is a fact," he said, when asked about the Indian customs implications. "We try to maximize what we can do at the factory in order not to go to India with an extra shipment, because the risk is that we won't get the extra shipment on the track. And also, even if you get it there, you won't know if you can bring it to the following race. So, it is a bit of a gamble.
"As always when you gamble you take a bit of a risk. We will see."
McLaren technical director Paddy Lowe reckons the only safe option for teams was to ensure that any updates for India were transported straight from Korea as part of the official F1 freight consignment.
"It [India] is the most awkward race of the year in that respect, so everything – like the way the carnets [merchandise passports] are arranged – needs to be done thoroughly. Everything needs to go in freight from here to India, and it is very difficult to add anything to that from source."