Posts Tagged ‘F1 rules’

Today could turn out to be a day, which will stand out in the history books of Formula 1. At the FIA World Council meeting in Monaco some huge decisions will be taken, which reflect a sea change in attitude within the F1 teams compared to recent years and which will herald the start of a move towards a totally new F1 concept, certainly as far as engines are concerned.

Following the surprise withdrawal of Honda a week ago, a fresh mood of realism has finally crept in and the remaining nine teams met with FIA president Max Mosley on Wednesday and presented a package of proposals to drastically cut costs. All parties described the meeting as a ‘breakthrough’ and we wait with baited breath to see what shape our sport will take in the future.

The cornerstone of the proposal is a standard engine and drivetrain. Currently the costs of developing and producing the engine and gearbox are considered to be roughly half a Formula One operating budget for some teams, or £30 million per year. The FIA wants to remove the drivetrain as an area in which teams compete with each other, thus eliminating the need to spend such sums on it.

Under the plans before the World Council today, the standard engine will be supplied by Cosworth and the gearbox by Xtrac/Ricardo, costing around £5 million per season. It remains to be seen how many teams will sign up for this in 2010. Teams have the option of building their own engine but it must be to the exact Cosworth design and therefore equivalent in performance. I fancy that many of the big names will do this, including Ferrari. However, I’m told that one of the breakthroughs at the meeting on Wednesday was that this option has been made ‘sexier’, hence why the top names were happy to agree to it. We’ll see what that entails later today.

The idea behind the standard engine is simple – to calm down the excessive spending of recent times and get things under control. But the intention thereafter is to reintroduce competitive engines to a completely new design in 2013. These are likely to be turbocharged, probably V6 and the competition element will be reintroduced, probably based on fuel efficiency, rather than outright performance.

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Just arrived in a rainy and chilly Monaco for what will be a momentous couple of days for the sport.

It’s weirdly appropriate that this humbling of F1, the death knell of the era of decadence and excess, should happen in Monaco, which has long symbolised the wealth and glamour, with which F1 is synonymous.

This will be a strange journey for all of us, coming to terms with the new ‘austerity F1’, but here are a few notes at this early stage.

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A change is gonna come…again

Big day tomorrow – December 4th, the meeting in Geneva of the 10 F1 team principals to finalise their proposals to the FIA World Council, which will sit on December 12th to decide on some major changes to Formula 1 for the future.

I know what you are thinking, it’s all a bit of a blur this; we haven’t had a chance to fully absorb the massive changes for 2009 yet and already we are potentially about to get a load of even more radical changes pushed onto us, like gold medals deciding championships, another overhaul of qualifying and maybe even a standard engine and no more refuelling. We’ve only just finished one of the most exciting seasons in 58 years of the sport and yet the blueprint which produced it is being shredded and a new, untested one being laid out. Slow down, already!

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The discussion about the medals system potentially coming into F1 has set fans buzzing again, since Bernie Ecclestone stated, “It will happen, ” on Wednesday.

We’ve had lots of intelligent and insightful feedback on this and I have to say that the antis outweigh the pros so far. I also noted Eddie Jordan’s comments, where he laid into the plan and virtually accused Bernie of being out of touch. This is clearly a foretaste of the kind of comment we can expect from dear old Eddie when he is unleashed as a pundit on BBC next year…what would he have said about the ruling on the Bourdais/Massa collision in Fuji, or even the penalising of Hamilton at Spa? He’ll have the stewards reaching for the smelling salts next year.

The teams I have spoken to give this initiative a cautious welcome, but with quite some reservations. They see it as a very big step that needs to be thought through and presented properly. No-one is in the mood to shoot ideas down at the moment, because we are in the ‘phoney war’ phase of the FOTA/FIA/ Bernie tussle, which will start to heat up more next week, when FOTA meets on Dec 4th and the FIA world council on the 12th.

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Just back from a press conference at the Landmark Hotel, London, where Bernie Ecclestone said more about the proposed “medals” scheme in F1 and announced that LG the consumer electronics group, will sponsor F1 next year. You as viewers will be very aware of this deal as you watch, because the timing graphics, which appear on screen every 20 seconds of so will be LG branded. I think they will also sponsor the rev counter graphic you see on screen. They will develop F1 branded telies and other products off the back of the deal.

The deal was put together by Just Marketing, who also pulled in Johnnie Walker, Hilton Hotels and Lenovo to F1. Interestingly the event was fronted by BBC’s new F1 anchor Jake Humphreys, with whom I had an enjoyable chat. He’s a decent bloke, from the looks of things and he’s followed the sport for a while, so he’s not without knowledge. And he must be a sharp operator as he got himself a nice little earner today before he’s even hosted an F1 show!

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Stewarding the stewards

The FIA World Motor Sport Council made some important changes yesterday to the way stewards decisions are reached and explained to the public. This year, like previous years there were some big calls by the stewards which had an effect on the outcome of the world championship; I’m thinking in particular of the penalty Lewis Hamilton got in Spa and the one Sebastien Bourdais received in for colliding with Felipe Massa in Fuji.

One of the problems with these decisions is that they were not fully explained to the public and so many people arrived at the conclusion that there was some sort of ‘fix’ going on. Now the WMSC has approved a report by Alan Donnelly, who was the convener of the stewards this year, which makes some important recommendations. First the FIA will harness new technology to allow video replays to be analysed more quickly, so decisions can be made and penalties served, during the race. As multiple TV and CCTV pictures are generally the only means of judging an incident, the stewards need to have the best equipement available and now it seems they will have. Also, crucially, where an incident has been judged using video footage unseen by the public, this footage will now be made public on the FIA and FOM websites, together with the explanation. This is a great development and a real coup for transparency. It’s been forced on them really, by the rise of new media, in particular You Tube. It is in Bernie Ecclestone’s interest and that of the FIA, that any such footage remains in their control, not You Tube’s. [ more ]

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