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FOTA making all the running now
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FOTA making all the running now
Posted By:   |  25 Jun 2009   |  5:28 pm GMT  |  32 comments

The FOTA teams met in Bologna today in triumphant mood to celebrate their success and look forward to shaping the F1 of the future.

They are following the principles set out in the ‘Road Map’ they announced back in March; looking to reduce the costs dramatically, support the independent teams with cheap manufacturer engines and work with FIA and FOM to improve the show.
Picture 1

The main points to come out today are that the rules for next season will be the same as this year, except that there will be no refuelling and KERS will be banned. There may be some other detailed changes, perhaps to qualifying and there will be new rules about wind tunnel use and other cost-related aspects.

“We will keep the 2009 rules the same for everybody, ” said FOTA president Luca di Montezemolo. “This is extremely important. We will have stability in F1 at least until the end of 2012. It means no [extra] cost, because with stability you have no cost.

“We also have governance like in the previous years in which the rules come from clear procedure with the F1 Commission. And we will continue as teams, as car manufacturers, to work for important cost reductions as we have already done with success regarding engines and gearboxes.”

There will be only one set of rules for everyone and that means the the notion of running Cosworth engines at 20,000rpm to make them more competitive is out of the window. Yesterday’s deal is not good news for Cosworth and it remains to be seen whether the three new teams will go ahead with their supply deal. Cosworth said that they need three teams to make it pay, but I wonder whether Manor will review their decision to join F1 given that it is no longer capped at £40 million a year. I can see USFI and Campos going ahead. USF1 is keen on having a Toyota engine and Campos will not want to be left behind. The manufacturers are committed to supplying engines at €5 million and gearboxes at €1.5 million.

If all three new teams make it, then there will be eight teams requiring customer engines, which is good news for Ferrari, Toyota, Mercedes, Toyota and Renault.

Of course, David Richards and Prodrive among others, has missed out on an entry and today, his old colleage Nick Fry of Brawn GP spoke about the three new teams and said, “If one of those three weren’t able to get the funding to enter, there a possibility that others might be invited in.” This situation will be worth keeping an eye on.

I think we may see the return of a small amount of in season testing; this year has been a disaster for many teams, having no time to test parts and I think the teams realise that they are missing good opportunities to engage with the fans by not holding two or three “marquee tests’ where fans can get close to the action without spending lots of money and sponsors can invite more guests. Tests like Barcelona in April, Silverstone (or Donington) in June and Monza in late August may well return.

I also think we may see their points system adopted next season with 12 points for a win and so on. From the feedback we got at the time here on JA on F1, that seemed to play well with the fans.

FOTA appealed strongly to the fans today. They monitored the fans’ reaction in recent weeks as the crisis escalated and realised that they had a strong swell of opinion on their side. I was told that Silverstone played its part too as it was significant that such a well attended race with such passionate fans preceded the world council meeting to make everyone realise what they were potentially giving up. If Turkey had preceded the meeting the effect would have been quite different.

The banning of KERS will not be received with great sadness by most people. Ironically Ferrari and McLaren are giving quite a bit away by agreeing to dump it because they have very good systems. But all is not lost, because as I said after my Mercedes visit last week, the new F1 engine post 2013 is likely to be based around a KERS type regeneration system and so everything that they have learned will stand them in good stead. This was the wrong moment in the economic cycle to introduce a complex and expensive technology like KERS and it’s lack of take up this year has been embarrassing.

Williams and Force India are likely to be readmitted to FOTA, but they are not currently part of the ongoing discussions and framing of the rules. “Obviously we would expect them to ask to come back in… which they haven’t done so far,” Fry said today. I’ve heard some negative views on Williams’ stance and contrasts with the way Brawn played its cards, but I think the FOTA teams want to move on.

It is emerging that what swung everything around yesterday was a combination of significant commercial pressure on Max Mosley from Ecclestone and his partners CVC as well as the resolution of FOTA to go ahead with a breakaway. Mosley had little alternative but to strike a deal because he did not have much of an entry list to take to the world council.

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32 Comments
  1. Jeremiah says:

    All they talk about is OK, but if they want the opinion of this fan, I will be left without what I want : historic venues in countries with a tradition.

    This is the most important thing, and we will not get it. Next to this, everything else I could not care less about.

    Winner : CVC.
    Everyone is happy and claims victory except the fans. I wont turn on my TV and watch a procession in Korea.

  2. VV says:

    Are these rule changes (e.g. banning KERS) going to be put into effect by the FIA, as opposed to just being an agreement between the FOTA teams? Seeing as Williams (i) isn’t currently part of FOTA and (ii) spent who-knows-how-much on buying a company for their flywheel technology, would they go along with this particular rule change?

    The teams talk about cutting costs, but have spent many millions on KERS, only to get rid of it after one year. Surely they could loosen up the rules and make it more attractive, such as doing away with the 80 bhp limit and so on?

  3. Ambient Sheep says:

    With everything else sorted out, the big rule-change question for me is, will they ban double-diffusers and the like in order to achieve the Technical Working Group’s original goal of enabling overtaking?

    It was noticeable that in the early races of the season, when most cars didn’t have them, that there was a lot more overtaking going on than now, when just about everybody has them; and the trick diffusers have been largely blamed for this.

    It seems to me that, especially with KERS banned for next season, the teams really need to sit down and adopt, for example, the more restrictive aero rules that Ross Brawn tried to introduce in the middle of last year but were blocked by BMW. Otherwise we’ll be back to processions again.

    The start of this year was very exciting, let’s not lose that.

  4. Babur says:

    I dont think its fair Williams and Force India get to benefit from FOTA-8 stance and victory in the recent battle with FIA/MM. They chickened out when unity was called for and are now waiting to be “asked” to come back? Some nerve. And I don’t buy this whole “we had obligations etc so we had to enter” reasoning either. Very convenient.

  5. rpaco says:

    The lack of in season testing is very prominent in the slow pace of development this season, teams just stick it on on Thursday and hope for the best. Yes lets have WednesdayThursday test day with the test drivers, as well as the separate corporate bun fights as James suggests.

    So is that 8 engines for 5M Euros or 1 engine ?

    [quote]“Ironically Ferrari and McLaren are giving quite a bit away by agreeing to dump it because they have very good systems.”[/quote]
    Well McLaren are anyway. This is a great pity because by 2013 they wont be able to afford KERS under the agreed reduced costs. Maybe McLaren should be nominated developer for all teams, but we would have packaging problems, still it works for engines and gearboxes so why not KERS too. It will be allowed on all 4 wheels, leading to direct electrical drive and electrical braking. ABS whoopee!

    Shirley long term, the green thing to do is to limit fuel per car with it reducing by say 1lit or 1kg per year, this would lead to enforced efficiency in fuel usage. The Vee 8 would have to give way eventually to more efficient designs including perhaps rotary.
    (With F1 team’s superior knowledge of ceramic composites the wankel could be made to live longer with lower friction losses)

    What a shame that Bernie could not be made to give up a more of the revenue from the venues, tv, track advertising etc.
    £100 just to get in the gate and sit in the crush in the banking is not value for money, (more than 1 week’s state pension and at my age I need to sit in a stand on a proper seat, but that’s out of the question) but unless Bernie squeezes less there is no hope of a ticket price reduction. Still in marketing terms you could say that the Silverstone demand curve is very elastic, pity.

  6. Britt B. says:

    James, 2 questions:

    1) Why doesn’t BMW provide customer engines?

    2) Why get rid of refueling, having that element of strategy seems to improve the show?

  7. Sam98 says:

    I’m sure Flavio will want to punish Williams for their tactics, but it’s not that long ago that he claimed Ross Brawn was the villain for the diffuser situation – and that feels like an age ago now.

  8. A Guppy says:

    Who will be providing/making the 1.5m Euro gearboxes for the teams? I think this was the best solution for everyone. It would be great if they created some big fan events for the testing sessions. It could be a good money maker too.

  9. Howard Hughes says:

    Not sure what else Frank Williams could have done really – had he sided with FOTA all the way he’d have been staring down both barrels of the FIA’s legal guns; everyone would have seen through it as an empty posture knowing full well they were already under a watertight contract…

    Looking at the picture of Briatore and Montezemolo above makes me wonder if one day, with Renault’s Carlos Ghosn reputedly always blowing hot and cold on F1, we might see Flavio buy out the team a la Brawn, rebranding it Billionaire to fit with his club / fashion brand and owning it himself…

    Billionaire F1.

    I like it.

  10. jw1980 says:

    There’s much to look forward to now for 2010. Hopefully a grid of 26 cars for starters. That’s something to really look forward to. I guess alot of pressure will be placed on Manor to definitely commit for 2010. If they do not want to enter other teams could have that slot, but this cannot be left too late.
    Is STR still up for sale? You would think that potentially this would be a good time to sell. Would Superfund be interested?
    I’ve just read Andrew Benson’s blog on BBC Sport and he states that FOTA want a new calendar to better reflect where motor racing has been successful in the past rather than racing in front of near empty grandstands. This must be FOTA’s next big challenge to create a better calendar. In reality how much longer would countries like Malaysia, Turkey, China and so on be prepared to pay millions for the right to hold a GP? CVC must be very nervous. There cannot be much mileage left in their current business plan? In two or three years time we could be looking at a very different calendar to the one we have at present.
    On a final point James any idea when next year’s calendar will be released so that holidays can be planned?

  11. ben says:

    I’m very very disappointed about the lack of refueling. That’s where half the fun is!

  12. Mike says:

    Well, with what little we know of FOTA’s plan, you can see where Max got his ammunition. http://www.autosport.com/news/report.php/id/76517 says that “Flavio will also be working with the commercial rights holder to improve the show and the interest in the sport”. How anyone can believe the teams dictating terms on a sport is good is beyond me. I hope that this sudden power gain doesn’t cause a shift the other way. Objective regulation is necessary, and I worry that the current teams can’t provide this.

  13. Rudy Pyatt says:

    Hold on a minute: I see elsewhere that Max is reconsidering things (trying to get the last word?) and claiming that FOTA’s alleged “misrepresentations” are jeopardizing his agreement with them.

    He appears to be reconsidering his decision to step down.

    Hang on to your hats folks. All bets could be off. We may see a breakaway yet. Oh happy day!

  14. Travis R says:

    I am probably one of the few who are saddened by the loss of KERS, but I understand. I really liked the potential it had, and most people will probably hate me for saying this, but I think Max had good intentions with it. The timing was just bad. Perhaps if it hadn’t been under such restrictive rules, it could have been a bigger challenge/potential advantage the teams would embrace. Like you say, the lack of adoption by most teams was embarrassing, but this turned out to not be the year to introduce it.

    On a more positive note, I am happy to hear about the refueling ban still being put into effect – I think that will be a good challenge to spice things up next year!

    By the way, James – I have to say that you are doing a wonderful job with this site. I really enjoy reading your thoughtful and well-written articles!

  15. Steve says:

    So far its sounding good for 2010 especially with the banning of refueling which I was never a fan of.

    Slightly dissapointed by KERS been banned as it had provided some entertaining racing this year, think back to Webber & Hamilton passing & Re-Passing at Sepang with Webber faster in the turns & Hamilton fast down the straghts thanks to KERS. I think with more cars running it & more KERS boost avaliable it could be worked better.

    The FOTA points system is a good idea, should have been brought in this year really but hopefully it will be brought in for 2010.

    Hopefully the possible changes to qualifying will only be the running of low fuel in Q3 as I really like the current 3 session knock out format & don’t really want to see it changed too much.

    One thing I would like to see improved is the TV coverage. FOM do & always have done a superb job, but this year it seems the avaliable OnBoard angle’s has decreased & some intresting & innovative ideas such as Thermal Imaging & the facinating line Comparisson stuff we saw used in Practice at Bahrain hasn’t been seen since. HD broadcast’s would also be welcome.

  16. Steven Roy says:

    Max has decided that he may just stay. Oh what a surprise.

    http://www.autosport.com/news/report.php/id/76529

  17. chris says:

    I see a few bumps in the road ahead for FOTA because they were united against a common cause fighting Mosley, but now that has passed and their sporting rivalries will come to the fore. Disagreements and squabbles are surely going to erupt within FOTA. Williams having to ask to be let back in feels very awkward to me. Invite them back in FOTA!

    With the conflict now over, I can get back to loathing Ferrari again.

  18. BFef says:

    Joke, lost interest.

  19. Hmm seems that it’s not all over!

  20. virtualmark says:

    James, are there any news or rumours about changes to the commercial arrangements, and in particular the share of revenues that go to the teams?

    It seems this recent rapprochement has addressed the issues the teams had with Max and his capricious rulemaking. (Although part of me still expects Max to renege on his commitment to stand down)

    But what of their other issues with how much of the dollars the sport earns flow back to the competitors who put on the show, rather than the impresario? Is CVC the real winner here?

  21. Ambient Sheep says:

    Hmmm, that’s true, with the banning of refuelling, it’s even more important that they sort out the aero regs to encourage overtaking as originally intended, as per my earlier comment.

    As for KERS, the problems there seem to have been twofold: firstly, not enough power for the weight involved; secondly, the handicap it brought for heavier drivers. Therefore I can’t help thinking that since KERS was originally planned to have double the power limit next year, together with a planned raise in the minimum weight limit to help drivers like Kubica, it would surely still have been worth giving it a go for at least one more year, as then the benefit might outweigh the handicap. (Obviously more power means more battery weight, but it wouldn’t be double, due to the weight of the motor and the control unit.)

  22. john g says:

    well it all sounds generally positive, especially with flav now saying that they don’t want to race at empty tracks like turkey, when classic europe tracks are a sell out (obviously he was hit by the contrast in atmosphere between turkey and silverstone!), even tho he accepts that the governmetn funded tracks pay more to host. with flav assigned to deal with bernie in terms of ‘improving the spectacle’ hopefully good things will happen in this regard.

    i’m not convinced about the fuel stops – some races they are the only excitement you get. at others like sliverstone, it ruined the best battles. i think it would be nice to have the option to refuel – i.e. slow down the refuelling rigs massively so that it’s a much bigger penalty to come in to refuel – so you can have the option of not refuelling, or a 1 stop. keep tyre changes tho, but get bridgestone to make compounds that are suited to the circuits and don’t grain and make marbles – it’s killing overtaking as you can’t go off-line.

    the biggest thing they need to address however are the aero regs. they are strangling F1. the OWG (or rather the DD) have not made the racing any closer and following another car still appears to give a disadvantage rather than an advantage, which is always going to be detrimental to overtaking. they need stock front and rear wings that give minimal downforce and punch a big hole for the following car. in one move you get better racing and massively less aero development costs. plus they could make them in sensible proportions to have good looking cars again rather than shopping trolleys with snowploughs. finally, not for next year but after 3 years, manufacturers need to go to a fuel based formula and open up the engine regs. this is the only technology that will filter down to road cars and make any contribution – making the best use of available energy.

  23. dave says:

    It was always going to be a gamble either way. I personally like the way that Brawn played their cards. Can we read anything into that? They must believe their lack of sponsorship is going to turn around in a massive way.

  24. Widefoot says:

    rpaco,
    You’re a person after my own heart – I too would like to
    see more engine choices, and the rotary (Wankel) design
    is perfect for ceramic engine component application. I’d
    love to see Mazda in F1…

  25. Widefoot says:

    Jeremiah,
    Agreed – I’m disappointed that CVC still bleeds off money as
    a result of the (very) questionable dealings between insiders,
    and we still don’t get the great old tracks back. Prices for
    tickets will remain too high, and when will America and
    Canada get dates again?

  26. Martinco5 says:

    Looks like you spotted it first Rudy, is anybody that surprised that this man has the nerve to go back on his agreement?

    Remind me somebody, who was it that referred to Team Principals recently as ‘loonies’ and Jackie Stewart as ‘a certifiable half-wit’.

  27. DC says:

    I don’t know…. putting a full tank of fuel in the car and making them run to the end could be very interesting. As the fuel burns off the car’s dynamics will change significantly and should produce some interesting racing. Also those cars that are more fuel efficient will need less fuel to get to the end so may have an advantage on weight.

    I wonder how this will affect qually. Do they still run in Q3 with full race fuel? Doesn’t seem much point as they will all need to have the minimum their car needs to get to the end of the race so it has nothing to do with strategy.

  28. James Allen says:

    Not hearing much on that, but the commercial side was all agreed anyway until 2012. So in 2011 there is going to be one heck of a negotiation with Bernie and CVC over how much the teams will get. FOTA will feel sure that they can get substantially more than 50% of the revenues. And CVC have to make an exit somehow in order to make the maximum return on their investment and as far as I can see it can only come from an IPO, so watch out for the ground being prepared for that.

  29. Paul Moss says:

    I thought the over-taking problem was as much to do with the rev limit as the aero packages? Many drivers have stated recently that they got close enough to overtake on straights, but in the slipstream they started hitting the rev limiter, thus no real ability to go significantly faster than car in front.
    Re-gearing would give more rev headroom, but also slower lap times.
    Free up rev limits perhaps, but maintain engine life span restrictions?

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