The parc fermé is an enclosed and secure area in the paddock where the Formula 1 cars are weighed and any other checks deemed necessary by race officials are made.
Teams must leave their cars in this area from within three and a half hours of the end of the qualifying on Saturday until five hours before the start of the formation lap on Sunday.
“We have scrutineers with us in the garage during the three days of the event. They watch what we're doing on the cars, ask us questions and take notes so the FIA is fully aware that everything we do on the cars,” Mark Gray, Race Team Operations Manager for the Sahara Force India team told Auto123.com.
“We always have the same amount of time between the end of the qualifying session to the moment the cars must be sealed in parc fermé. If the cars go through technical inspection, that reduces the time we have to prepare the cars for parc fermé. Here in Montreal, the cars had to be ready by 6:30 pm,” Gray added.
The cars are deemed to be under parc fermé conditions from the time they first exit the pits during qualifying until the start of the formation lap immediately prior to the race.
“We do standard maintenance work such as draining the fuel tank, making sure that the sensors are working perfectly, change tires, cleaning the bodywork, bleeding the brakes, installing permitted heating or cooling devices, charging and/or discharging of the KERS energy storage devices, etc. We're making final preparations for Sunday's race. If we need to work on the cars and change anything, we must make a request and get permission from the FIA,” Gray told us.
Indeed, work is limited to strictly-specified routine procedures, which can only be performed under the eye of the FIA Technical Delegate and race scrutineers.
“Once the works'd done, we wrap the cars in special FIA covers and a seal is applied by the scrutineers. From that moment, no one is allowed to touch or work on the cars. A TV camera located above the car records everything continuously,” Gray explained.
Sunday morning, the cars are released from parc fermé. “At 9 am, we snap the seals with the scrutineers and take the cover off and start prepping the cars for the race. We fire up the engine, warm up the gearbox and get ready for the start of the Grand Prix,” Gray concluded.