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.
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.