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World Council makes some important changes to F1
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World Council makes some important changes to F1
Posted By: James Allen  |  11 Dec 2009   |  4:55 pm GMT  |  50 comments

The FIA World Motor Sport Council met today in Monaco and voted through some measures which will change F1 in important ways. There was confirmation of the change to the points system proposed by the F1 commission yesterday, with 25 points for the winner and, as expected, the Sporting Working Group has been tasked with coming up with compelling ideas in January for improving the show which can be implemented before next season.

Refereeing is always a source of needless controversy in any sport and after a lot of rows over stewarding decisions in recent years, new FIA president Jean Todt has targeted that as an area to get a good early win and has brought in some changes which are likely to meet with the approval of the teams and fans. Alan Donnelly’s role as the chairman of the stewards has been made obsolete. Like a jury, it is now up to the stewards at each Grand Prix to elect their chairman. This will be done no doubt on seniority and pecking order in the FIA food chain. The pool of stewards is also being made smaller and there is a structured training programme for them.

The introduction of experienced ex F1 drivers to sit alongside and advise the stewards on matters of blame in racing incidents is a good idea. They generally have a pretty good idea who’s at fault in an incident and the drivers will respect the stweards’ decision more as a result.

“A smaller permanent group of F1 Stewards will sit with experienced former F1 drivers to provide a permanent panel of three FIA stewards, together with one steward representing the National Sporting Authority, to deal with F1 at each Grand Prix. There will no longer be a non-voting Chairman and each group of stewards will elect their own Chairman amongst themselves for each race. Utilising video and radio exchanges they should aim to reach decisions very efficiently.”

The WMSC also approved Todt’s manifesto idea of a World Championship commissioner, who will be the FIA’s senior representative at each Grand Prix, reporting directly to the FIA president. This is a very good idea and probably 20 years overdue in the case of Formula 1. The commissioners’ role is as follows,
“They are also tasked with supervising the general running of the Championship and its development on behalf of the FIA. The commissioners will be present at each event of the World Championship for which they have been appointed and their role is to serve as permanent liaison for the various stakeholders involved (ASNs, promoters, organisers, manufacturers, teams, officials, suppliers, etc.).

“The commissioners are not empowered to take decisions or to perform any other act of a regulatory nature which may come under the remit (sporting, technical, organisational or disciplinary) accorded to the officials of the event by the International Sporting Code.”

Todt is taking his time to appoint the commissioners, although I’m told that he has a shortlist of three candidates at this point. The discussion in F1 circles is whether this might be an ex driver or someone from the World Council or possibly someone with no F1 baggage. One such possible candidate is Andrew Craig, who ran CART in America when Nigel Mansell was racing there in the mid 1990s. Ideally it would be someone who does not use the position for ego purposes but who can work with the teams and FOM to make the event the best it can be.

The World Council also launched an initiative to encourage more women to come into motorsport.

The FIA also announced that its motor sport safety fund will pay for the establishment of training centres for marshals and in a separate announcement it said that the fund had approve over €5 million of grants to motorsport programmes and grass roots projects around the world,

“Specific projects range from the training of officials in emerging markets in Africa and Asia, to developing young drivers and determining the economic and environmental sustainability of new motor sport facilities around the world.”

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  1. Roger Whittle says:

    Ideas for the show –

    Race winner has to refuel, go out on fresh tyres, and do a lap of donoughts for the crowd. When he comes back, old race tyres are put on for scrutineering.

    Bring back Flavio and make him in charge of
    Sporting Working Group for 3 years plus pay a big fine – make the poacher gamekeeper. make Pat Symonds in charge of Overtaking Working Group for 3 years. No fine.

    1. Stephen Kellett says:

      Idea #1.
      Front wing mounted rocket launchers that fire a short range (30m) rocket that is designed to cause small amounts of damage to the car in front (not destroy it). Maximum number of rocket per front wing: 3. Pit crew allowed to reload 1 rocket per pit stop.

      That should increase overtaking!

      Idea #2
      Random “Community Chest” penalty card caused by any car driving over the community chest pressure panel (which is the whole track wide) at X seconds past each minute, where X is set randomly per race, 30 seconds after the race start.

      I know I should have waited until April 1st…

  2. Roger Whittle says:

    Hope this is OK !

  3. Matt says:

    “The World Council also launched an initiative to encourage more women to come into motorsport.”

    The sooner this comes in the better! I would love to see Danica Patrick in F1, and I think it would definitely spice up the sport, remove the image of it being a “boy’s club” and do wonders for including a whole new section of fans into F1. Saying that, they must get in on merit. I hope this doesn’t mean we’ll see “token” female drivers in F1. That would do no one any good.

    Also, having ex-F1 drivers within the stewarding system is a fantastic idea. It’ll at least give a bit of fairness and understanding to the system, and should mean more genuine racing incidents are seen as such, whereas the genuine cheating should be punished accordingly.

    1. Stephen Kellett says:

      Women in F1. Will it happen? Well lets put aside whatever gender prejudice there may be in the paddock and concentrate on the physical aspects.

      F1 is physically very demanding.

      The problem is whether women can get fit enough for the absolute stress levels they will experience.

      Women have a superior strength to weight ratio than men (*) and of course are generally more slight and shorter, both of which favour them for the cockpit. So it should only be down to whether they can handle the absolute physical stress levels experienced in F1.

      I can’t say I’m aware (but this may be ignorance on my part) of female fighter pilots (again a very absolute physical stress level), which makes me wonder if there are absolute limits, or is the absence of female fighter pilots a recruitment thing?

      Anyone know if the physical demands are just too high for women?

      If they are, what about problems with sponsorship? Is F1 the right venue for using a woman to promote your product? Sorry that reads like it could be a sexist question, but that is not where I am coming from, just F1 is positioned as a rather macho sport isn’t it?

      What about if there is an accident and a woman is hurt? Will that generate more (bad) publicity than for a man? Will F1 want that? (this is a bit like women in the military not going into combat situations because the military don’t want to deal with the PR fallout of dead women soldiers).

      (*) Sorry I can’t provide a reference for that, but I do remember reading a report about this years ago.

      I’d like to see women in F1, but I wonder if there are genuine impediments to it happening.

    2. rpaco says:

      Anyone remember Divina Galiccia?

      1. Werewolf says:

        Yep, and Maria Teresa de Philippis, Lella Lombardi, the ever charming Desire Wilson and Giovanna Amati! There maybe others I don’t remember.

        Lombardi was, I think, the only woman to finish in a points paying position, albeit in a shortened race. The likes of Danica Patrick, Katherine Legge and Wilson all prove, among others, that women can be successful in the lower formulae and sports cars; and Michele Mouton, of course, in rallying.

        I have often wondered if the failure of women racers to reach the pinnacle is anything more than a reflection of their very small number (how many F1 drivers come from your home town? None will be the answer for most readers.) and the fact that too great a proportion of them have been over promoted for publicity reasons, thus tarnishing the whole gender with a novelty status.

        Sure, the physical demands are high but they are in other sports where the ultimate strength factor necessitates men’s and women’s categories. F1, however, is not about ultimate strength. I see little reason why a woman with the right talent, commitment and oak-like neck (!) should not be competitive in an F1 car but from a comparitively tiny pool it may take years to find her.

      2. rpaco says:

        “I have often wondered if the failure of women racers to reach the pinnacle is anything more than a reflection of their very small number”

        I’m afraid that physical strength does come into it a lot, in particular the neck muscles. There are few women who actually want their necks to be that big who also have the talent.
        Then of course she would, like all others need a decent car and to be in the right place/right time.
        Still one has to admit that there is more chance of a good woman F1 driver coming on the scene, than Jonathan Ross completing (legitimately) the triathlon that he was shamed into by Jensen on his show last week.

    3. Edwin says:

      The idea of women in F1 is likely more motivated by that bogus idea “equality” and other such social engineering ignorance. F1 is not a boys club, it’s a man’s club. If women do gain seats, it will be likely a result of some do-gooder interfering and making it so.

      Danica Patrick may well succeed on an oval in Indycar, where the stress levels are way lower than the hammering drivers receive in F1. It’s simply not physically possible for a women to compete with any of the top drivers over a race or season. There is little to no point in having attractive, sponsor desirable women in an F1 seat when there is a host of young men more than capable of doing the job.

      The true role of women in F1 is to support their man and remind all men just how amazing women can be when they play to their strengths of feminine beauty, care and dignified grace.

  4. Gabriel says:

    all seems very constructive. Now we just need web highlights of the races for fans to analyse. If YouTube doesn’t make them enough money, they can setup their own version on F1 website.

  5. Mattoz says:

    Hi James,

    In regard to the new points system, do you have any idea why on earth the World Council decided to have only a one point gap between 6th and 7th places, yet have a two point gap between 7th and 8th places? Surely this must have been a typo on the press release (and 4 points should be allocated to 7th instead of 5)as it is not at all consistent with the rest of the points allocation??

    1. Woffin says:

      This is an excellent point, and if you can explain the reasoning behind the unusual points gap James, that would be massively appreciated! I am struggling to understand the logic behind it myself.

  6. Dave P says:

    I am not sure that an ex F1 driver is any help. take the case of Trulli and Sutil… they could not agree on who was at fault with all the other drivers also taking differing view points… then Trulli turning up at press conferences with photos after there was an official ok after the event. I am not sure how this can be classed as being helpful.

    We even have people like Martin Brundle ( who I admire ) making judgements that turn out later to be untrue….

    It’s not that they don’t offer what they feel to be the truth… it just often isn’t the truth…

    1. Werewolf says:

      Was Brundle right or were the stewards right? There is rarely any pure truth in judgement, only hopefully informed opinion.

      If you’re suggesting that the person with the authority is right solely by position – and I’m sure you’re not – then Hitler, Saddam and many others would stand vindicated …

      The addition of an ex-driver to the panel will add balance, perspective and, most important of all, experience.

  7. rpaco says:

    Todt is elevating his position by appointing people to do his job for him, but having their hands tied.

    The stewards thing may work out well though if drivers everyone respects are put in as stewards. Under the sporting regs Stewards must hold super-licenses the same as drivers. But it also says that the FIA can dish them out to whoever takes their fancy.

  8. Hairs says:

    The single biggest thing to come out of this meeting, and the one most worth paying attention to, is the change in stewarding. F1 has been needlessly crucifying itself with stewarding decisions for decades now. What’s worse is that unlike a football ref who is put on the spot and has to make judgement calls about something he may not even have seen, F1 stewards have access to nothing less than a mountain of data from the cars, drivers, and multiple camera viewpoints, AND have the benefit of a 2 hour in-race window to make decisions.

    The fact that stewarding has been a farce to date is something that a president of the FIA should be ashamed of. Including drivers on the team is a stroke of common sense (known in FIA circles as insane madcap genius no doubt).

  9. Andy says:

    What a change we are seeing with jean todt in charge. Quiet effectiveness.

    I would really like the design group to look into items that improve the ability to follow each other more closely.

    James,
    I’m no aero wizard but surely more mechanical grip, flat floors and less aero are the answer.

    What would you like to see to make racing better?

    I get frustrated about the ideas to make f1 entertaining. Encourage racing! Not more pitstops or some stupid qualy idea.

    Perhaps spurs on the wheels like in ben herr. Give me a break!

    1. James Allen says:

      Refuelling, for the tactical side, without which the sport is less intelligent. I’d like a lot less aero downforce and wider tyres.

      1. Rudy Pyatt says:

        Increasing the race distance to something like 350 or even 500 miles would make refuelling relevant. I’d like to see exactly that, but it won’t happen. Bernie’s television model just wouldn’t stand such radicalism, so refuelling will disappear as per the new regs. But there is PLENTY of scope for radical approaches to car design even under these rules (sorry if I’m repeating myself and getting a bit off-topic here. Maybe you can pester the teams about this over the winter James). If a team has courage to risk using them, such approaches can “spice up the show” without further rules tinkering.

        Nothing says that you must have wings on the car, or even diffusers. Nothing in the rules says that you must have side-mounted radiators. Right NOW, teams CAN build something like a Lotus 49, BRM P261 or a Lotus 56 wedge, to modern safety standards (carbon fibre, proper safety cell) if they choose to do so. Smaller frontal area means less drag and, therefore, adequate, if not superior, top speed. Modern brakes and tires would surely permit such cars to both stop and turn well enough to be competitive. And I’ve read the arguments that wingless cars can’t work because they wouldn’t be able to stop or turn without huge downforce. High performance road-going motorcycles have no problem doing so, to say nothing of MotoGP bikes, all of which approach or exceed 200mph. Cost cutting or not, it strains credibility to say that NO F1 team could make a non-wing car competitive.

        Nothing in the rules says that the engine MUST be water cooled. Almost 50 years ago, Porsche determined that the horsepower loss caused by a cooling fan was no worse than the weight and drag penalties imposed by a radiator when designing the 804 F1 car. And, of course, the victories by air cooled Porsches in other categories are too numerous to count. Surely 50 years of progress – in materials and in aerodynamics – makes a competitive air cooled engine, even WITHOUT a fan, feasible. Lets face it, the radiators on current cars are inadequate at rest anyway – we wouldn’t see fans and dry ice used on them in the pits during qualifying otherwise – and do most of their work at speed due to air induction. Why not just get rid of them? As Ferry Porsche once said, “we have never lost the air.”

        To the above may be added the engine valvetrain (desmo, anyone, or even DOHV?) layout, or valve shape. Oval “spam can” pistons are prohibited, but valves of that shape are not: The increased valve area could give what amounts to 32 valves for the price of 16. Even engine location: If placed up front, weight distribution will remain in the 45 to 47 percent range currently seen, regardless of whether the engine sits ahead of or behind the driver. Peter Wright made just this observation in Racecar Engineering some years back, and also noted that there were aerodynamic and induction benefits with a front engined car as well. Or you could run a rear engined car with a transverse engine, as Honda did in its first GP cars of the ’60s.

        With so many possibilities, double diffusers are just a toe in the water. Opportunities to “spice up the show,” and gain competitive advantage, by taking such radical approaches abound, but no team is willing to take the risk to do so. And that’s a shame.

      2. rpaco says:

        Yes yes! I couldn’t agree more. That is what we were hoping would result from the OTWG changes to last season but it didn’t happen. Take away half the downforce, change the tyres. Remember when all the track could be used instead of the single lane we get now between two sheets of rubber marbles. The tyres need changing so that they don’t roll rubber off all the time, we used to get rubber dust not marbles. We used to get guys cleaning the dust off by going off-line for two or three laps before overtaking using the bit they had prepared/cleaned. Now as soon as they go out of the single file lane, they’re spinning off the track.

  10. Andy says:

    Why not take off the wings and do something revolutionary like use fans (was it the tyrell that used the fan) for downforce.

    There has to be something in modern day technology!

    1. rpaco says:

      Ha Ha! innovation will be punished.

      All brilliant ideas like that are quashed, the 6 wheeler, the active suspension, ground effect, the mass damper. Although to be fair, ground effect was allowed for some years and the Mass Damper did infringe the rules (not rigidly fixed).

      The future is KERS, the future is movable aerofoils, the future is Garlic Bread!

  11. John F says:

    I hope we don’t see Max making a come-back in form as a commissioner …

    1. James Allen says:

      No chance – commissioner attends all 19 Grands Prix

  12. George says:

    Some good changes there, not a big fan of the new points system but the rest makes a lot of sense.

    The only slight thing I’m worried about is the ex-f1 drivers stewarding, surely they’re more susceptible to bias or even bribes? Last thing we need is a rotten steward.

    1. Neil Barr says:

      Yes, that would besmirch the pristine record of justice served by stewards past.

  13. Spyros says:

    I really like the idea of retired drivers sitting with the stewards, but I can’t help worrying that, for example, a retired former McLaren driver might not be considered unbiased by all parties, in a hypothetical 2010 incident between Hamilton and Alonso…

    Still, I’d take that over the current situation!

  14. Drezman says:

    Michele Mouton has been appointed as Women & Motor Sport Commission President so how about that french bloke Alain Prost for F1 commissioner to start the Gaelic bias rumours.

    1. theothercoldone says:

      Shouldn’t that be Gallic? Gaels hail from Ireland…

  15. alex m says:

    I am very happy to say I may well be wrong about forecasting disaster with Toad at the FIA, he has done something really good with this Stewarding decision in particular. I am also very pleasantly surprised how low key and unegotistical he appears to be about it all.

    It will be hard for him to change much without upsetting Max and his grand delusions of “Legacy” but so be it. The early signs of JT@theFIA are actually really looking promising.

  16. Lee says:

    Hi James,

    Great insight as usual, although it is unnerving me to have such positive and constructive news come out of the FIA!

    So many fans complained bitterly when Jean Todt got the presidency, but if he carries on like this people will start to like him.

    Do you think the spirit of co-operation will last? I hope so. Overtaking is still my biggest concern for 2010.

    1. James Allen says:

      Things seem to have changed a bit, taking to both sides. Todt is playing it low key at the moment, but has been quietly influential on things like Silverstone. Things like the commissioner and changes to the stewards are changes for the better

      1. PaulL says:

        One thing that concerns me though James about ex-F1 drivers as F1 stewards is that their experience as a driver might lend themselves to casting a blind eye over some incidents of incorrect driving.
        For instance chicane chopping and gaining an advantage, I could see them thinking “well the sport doesn’t look as good when stewards intervene over tight calls, and in my driving time I recall that those things ‘happen’, so we’ll let that one go”.
        My personal view is that incorrect driving should be blotted out so that there is a clear disincentive to any grey area toward cheating. Otherwise the grey area becomes too big.

      2. James Allen says:

        It’s a good talking point

      3. David Hamilton says:

        With reference to chicane cutting:

        One thing that baffled me about last year at Spa with the Hamilton-Raikkonen spat was that it was deemed acceptable to run another car off the road when they had a 3/4 of a car overlap. Hamilton was judged to have cut the chicane even though he had to because there was no room on the road.

        It was never acceptable in the 50s, 60s or 70s to run your rival off the road. Look at Arnoux / Villeneuve: they left space even as they were banging wheels at high speed.

        So, when did running your rival off the road become acceptable? Was it Senna that started it? Or Schumacher?

        Or have we just stopped discriminating good driving from bad?

      4. PaulL says:

        My understanding is that if you’re in front and on the racing line you get the line for the next corner at a chicane.

        Seriously, if he wanted to Hamilton could have backed out, let Kimi go, and made the chicane, but for competitive reasons only he chose not to.

  17. David Hamilton says:

    I agree with Mattoz – what kind of madness is this 5 points for 7th place. It makes no sense at all.

    And yet, I cannot see that it is a typo, as it has been circulated for 24 hours now, without an update…

  18. Brace says:

    I’m really getting tired of important changes in F1. Might be because we have those every single year for more than… well since I can remember.

    Just let it be already. FIA should have something else to do than constantly tinker with F1.

  19. Mike from Medellin, Colombia says:

    The new points initiative runs the risk of F1′s scoring system to be perceived as trivial. 10 points for a win was nice and simple. 8 points for second place implied little pay-off for going for an all out win.

    25 points is going to imply that the WDC scores in the 200+ range. The nice thing about the old points system was that you could fairly easily compare drivers across eras.

    Some of Michael Schumacher’s points records will surely tumble in the next few years.

    1. Neil Barr says:

      Quite right. Comparison of points accumulations across unlike distribution eras has been nonsensical but benignly tolerated up to now. Forthwith the imbalance is intolerable and anyone feigning belief in continuing such a charade will delude no one, not even themselves. An effort must be made to describe a formula that will adjust tallies from all eras post-1950 to calculate a uniform measurement.

      Who among us will resolve the problem?

    2. Werewolf says:

      Comparing drivers’ historic points tallies has always been a dangerous undertaking because there have already ben numerous changes over the years.

      A win was initialy worth only 8 points but has recently been worth 10. Finishing points were originally awarded down to 5th place (2 points, the remaining 1pt for fastest lap) but in modern times have gone down to 8th.

      There are also many more races than in the past. The WDC started with 6 GPs (plus Indianapolis, which was, I believe only once contested by a GP driver) but there are anything between 17 and 20 these days.

      For example, comparing Fangio’s points total to Coulthard’s is, er, pointless!

      1. Neil Barr says:

        Of course! I see it now. Whether it’s points or wins or fastest laps or medals they’re all temporary counters used at the whim of the masters to determine the annual champion. Although they are cited to buttress someone’s status in the pantheon there was never an intention to make them comparable across the years. As you say, that’s absurd, given the stark difference in the number of events in various seasons . There is but one statistical standard: championships.

  20. Adam Taylor says:

    I was very sceptical when Jean Todt stepped into office which I saw as a Max Mosley clone but I am becoming more impressed with the systems and procedures he has been implementing, some have been long overdue. Although I would have been interested in Ari Vatanen’s input.

    But one thing has been bugging, why on gods green earth has the points system (which I believe is a very good change) been given as 25-20-15-10-8-6-5-3-2-1???
    I have checked this with other F1 web sites to make sure it wasnt an accidental error, but I dont understand why there is a 1pt gap between 6th and 7th but a 2pt gap between 7th and 8th???

  21. David Hamilton says:

    The FIA are maddeningly inconsistent:

    Only a few months ago, Bernie was on the point of making the championship a winner-take-all system of medals for winners, arguing that there was no incentive for drivers to try to win a race.

    I thought that, while his solution was barking, it did highlight a problem with the scoring: In 2003 the FIA reduced the gap between 1st and 2nd in order to stop Michael winning the championship so quickly. It didn’t work, and merely weakened the winner’s incentive for years to come (way to go, Max!).

    Now the FIA updates the points system, keeping the gap between 1st and 2nd completely unchanged (at 80% of the winner’s score), leaving the winner’s margin at the lowest level it has even been in F1.

    So (@bernie and @jean) was there a problem with the winner’s incentive, or wasn’t there?

  22. Werewolf says:

    All in all a useful day’s work for the FIA and, especially taking account of the Silverstone intervention, a very solid start for Todt. Nothing dramatic yet, but all helpful and sensible stuff which moves F1 in the right direction.

    I think we’d all like to see overtaking improved and without resorting to organisational gimmicks or designs that would ruin the essence of F1. As a non-engineer, mechanical grip would seem to be largely unaffected by disturbed airflows, so this surely has to be the way to go – and it’s relevant to road cars – with aero reduced to a supporting roll by, perhaps, simplifying wing designs and diffusers, banning add-ons and lowering the nose so that its whole underneath is flat with the rest of the car.

    Aero would become important as much for speed and fuel efficiency as grip, again relevant to road cars.

  23. john g says:

    well i wasn’t too keen on jean todt, but he’s kicked alan donnelly out so he can’t be all bad (although i think donelly helped todt win the election so i’m sure he’ll keep a position in the FIA somewhere). points system is poorly founded and illogical tho.

  24. Robert Euan Wallace says:

    On the subject of women in motorssport, I would like to say that I’m a big fan of Danica Patrick and would love to see women in F1! I suspect the reason we have not seen a female Champion in F1 is just because there are not enough women in racing… I mean there are loads of men racing and only a few win races in F1 so with only a few women trying to reach F1 the chances of finding a winner is less. Anyway Danica had signed a 3 year contract in America so I do not think she is likely to be in F1 ever. What about 16 year old Brit Alice Powell for an F1 drive? http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=X2at6RF8dFs&feature=player_embedded

    1. Robert Euan Wallace says:

      Watch out for Simona De Silvestro. She is only about 21 years old but won 4 races in this years Indy Lights Championship and lead the Championship most of the year. Now she is set to drive in Indycar. Maybe she will be the next woman in F1.

  25. Alan. Zechter says:

    Hi James great blog!

    Any news on HD coverage next season? I find it difficult to believe that sponsors haven’t been pushing for hd coverage and it is quite ironic that virtually the only sport not broadcast in HD is the one with LG as a technology partner!

  26. Don Farrer says:

    The new points system has an odd disconnect in sequence: the 5 point spread at the top goes to a 2 point spread until the 7th place finish (just 1 point down) then back to 2 points spread followed by 1 point. Why not: 25, 20, 15, 10, 8,6,4,3,2,1 insead?

    Is it a typo, or did they REALLY mean to go to the “…..8,6,5,3,2,1″? That is, why skip 4?

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