Three months into his tenure and new FIA president Jean Todt has started moving some of the pieces in his staffing jigsaw, with former convener of the stewards and FIA liaison man Alan Donnelly and former technical consulant Tony Purnell moved aside from roles in F1.
The two men were synonymous with Max Mosley’s regime, with Donnelly proving quite a controversial character in the last 12 months. Fans were dismayed with some of the stewarding decisions and as convener of the stewards he had a role requiring impartiality and yet that was called into question on several occasions last season when appeared to be involved in the bid by Manor to get one of the new team entries for 2010 and over the summer, when he was lobbying teams hard to leave the FOTA breakaway group and sign up with the FIA. Brawn was a particular target in late June. That stewarding role is no longer required under Todt’s structure.
For several years Donnelly was Mosley’s representative at races, the FIA president generally stayed away apart from Monaco, Silverstone and Monza. Most of his work was done behind the scenes, he was involved in smoothing out some problems with the British government for example in the early 2000s when legislation was drafted which outlawed tobacco logos being seen on TV in the UK when beamed from outside Europe. This was before the outright ban on tobacco advertising. Donnelly is set to take up a different role on the mobility side.
Purnell, a former Jaguar team principal, was very highly rated by Mosley and given free range to think about the F1 of the future and to direct policy. Many of Mosley’s initiatives were based on Purnell’s ideas.
Purnell was very involved in karting via his Pi electronics company and saw the difficulties many ordinary families with talented kids have getting beyond club level. He worked out that if you have a family £4 million – or access to it – to spend on the junior categories, you have a one in five chance of getting to Formula 1. His strong beliefs were that the costs of all motor sport should be dramatically reduced and that should be led by F1.
Purnell was behind the initiatives to specify certain areas of non-compete in F1 technology, such as brake ducts which costa fortune to refine, but which the public never see. He believed that teams should be encouraged to compete in areas, such as fuel efficiency, which serve a wider social purpose.
Todt wants full time staff on some of these key areas of shaping the sport of the future and has installed some of his old stalwarts from his Peugeot days, engine guru Gilles Simon and R&D chief Bernard Niclot.
Race director Charlie Whiting and head of communications Richard Woods are set to continue in their roles.
Today the Sporting Working Group met at Heathrow to discuss ways of spicing up the show, with points for pole position and fastest lap among the points under discussion. Also on the table was the subject of compulsory two stop strategies, starting the race on qualifying tyres and other ideas. The SWG will report back their findings and then the F1 commission and the World Council will need to vote any changes through.