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Todt lets Mosley confidants Donnelly and Purnell go
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Todt lets Mosley confidants Donnelly and Purnell go
Posted By: James Allen  |  22 Jan 2010   |  8:42 pm GMT  |  52 comments

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.

Donnelly in the stewards' room (FIA)

Donnelly in the stewards' room (FIA)


Things are starting to hot up now in the reshuffle of personnel. The key appointment due to be made soon is F1 commissioner, a new and powerful position. The commissioner will be the face of the FIA at F1 events and the touch point for the teams and FOM with the governing body.

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.

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52 Comments
  1. Mac says:

    That article doesn’t sound like the usual James Allen!

    1. Martin P says:

      Is there an unusual James Allen?

  2. Mark Crooks says:

    Hard to tell yet if this is good news or Jean simply getting rid of the old and employing old friends.

    From what I have read here (thanks James) and elsewhere it’s probably good for F1 that Alan Donnelly has left.

    1. Tim Lamkin says:

      Getting rid of any of MM’s group is good….

  3. Opposite Lock (Ken) says:

    About time!

    Alan Donnelly did not give the impression of impartiality to his actions. This is crucial to officiating in all sports. So regardless of the facts it was important that he leave.

    I hope that Tony Purnell will continue to have a consulting role in F1. He has radical ideas that can help F1 decide which direction it should go. It doesn’t matter if they are adopted (and many of his suggestions are not going to further the racing) as long as they spark discussion and exploration of options. Tony is able to look at problems with outside-the-box vision. He is a valuable resource and I hope he isn’t discarded because of his past working relationship with Max,

    1. Stephen Kellett JAF1 says:

      I agree.

      Donelly out, good. I’ve noticed over the years, reading the comments of others that Donnelly’s hand touched many things that lots of folk didn’t like, especially stewarding decisions. Maybe hire these guys to celebrate?

      http://www.banquetmusic.co.uk/fanfare_trumpeters.html

      Tony Purnell probably has a lot to offer, but presumably can’t be full time due to his other commitments so was replaced due to that. Had no idea he was connected with Pi Technology, I almost went to work for them in the 90s, but turned them down.

    2. Ross Dixon says:

      The one desision that has always baffled me and to be honest proved to me Ferrari Bias was the one in Hungary (I think) 2008. Bourdais comes out the pits just ahead of Massa. Massa goes for the outside, Bordais gives him all the track on the outside as he mounts the kerb inside. Massa crashes into him (this is the only definition as Massa was overtaking and Bordais was off the track on the inside line) Yet the stewards penalise Bourdais and Massa gets an extra point.
      This was the worst desision in sport, even worse than Hendry hand ball. The officals had all the info and time to make a desision and yet they got it wrong. I dont think even Ferarri fans would disagree

      1. Rishi says:

        The Bourdais-Massa incident was from Japan 2008 (Fuji) and was indeed a ridiculous decision. I remember Bourdais opining that the alternative was to “roll out the red carpet and say ‘here…take the corner’!”

        Also agree with the comments about Tony Purnell. I too find him an innovative thinker who could still be a useful contributor to the sport.

  4. Brace says:

    God help us with “ways of spicing up the show”!!!

    Leave it be!

    Why reinventing the wheel? Put 10,6,4,3,2,1 system in place and let them race. It always worked and it will work today.

    1. Shiro says:

      No it wouldn’t, cars hardly retire due to car problems these days, we’d only see the same people score points over and over again. MotoGP has only 17 entrants yet they reward riders from 1st – 15th places and there is nothing wrong with that, it’s actually better because it rewards riders up and down the field, it’d work even better in F1, it would reward drivers who aren’t in the best cars. F1 should be a sport not a roulette wheel.

  5. Tom says:

    Were any good ideas discussed in the Heathrow meeting? And when will we hear about them – there’s been not a word from the FIA’s overtaking meeting months ago.

  6. George says:

    I suppose it was expected Todt would get some people he could trust in. Donnelly is a liability after the last couple seasons, Purnell seems to have made a positive impact on team spending, but someone else will pick up that baton.

    Not a big fan of the point for fastest lap idea, I recall after a BTCC race last year Plato was told he got fastest lap and his response was something along the lines of ‘Did I? That’s nice’. It would also make title deciders a bit more complicated, but I dont think that’s an especially bad thing.

    Points for qualifying pole would be ok though, now that all the cars will be on equal fuel. I dont really see why they would do that (it’s not going to make qualifying any more interesting, pole is pole), but compared to some of the changes that have been proposed I could live with this one :P.

  7. Spencer says:

    Hooray! I really thought that Donnelly was going to be made the commisioner, and the Mosley would live on.

    This is great news for F1, just a shame that Charlie Whiting hasn’t had a re-location as well to really shake up the old boy network!

    I thought when Todt came along we were going to see more of the same, but perhaps his is going to be his own man after all.

    James, sorry off topic but can you confirm the teams who will test at Valencia on the 1-3rd Feb. I’m not far away and the three day ticket is only 25€. Will you be there reporting on the action?

    1. James Allen says:

      I will not be there. But will be at other tests later on when it gets a bit more interesting and they start looking for performance. Quite a few won’t make Valencia, it seems. Think it will be Merc, McLaren, Ferrari. Renault, Sauber – not sure who else

  8. Pierre says:

    Great post, thanks James.
    Even if many people think Todt was and still is not different from Mosley, I think he’ll change things. Because he’s always wanted to be successfull. That’s what he did with Peugeot, that’s what he did with Ferrari, that’s what he’ll do as the FIA president.

    1. James Allen says:

      I think it is abundantly clear already that Todt is quite different from Mosley and has his own way of doing things. He’s a very experienced manager much more than Mosley was, let’s face it.

      1. Curro says:

        I think this is quite an interesting point. Yes i agree with James, Todt is definitely his own man. We can expect him to shuffle things a bit to start with. Then what? Yes he’s more experienced as a manager, but Todt’s successes were achieved as a result of stubborness, not HHRR management. I could see a lot of subdue personalities in Ferrari during his reing, see Stepney, maybe even Brawn. Mosley is a warrior, a shrewd one, maybe not the one to bring opinions and egos together, instead making long-established personalities bring out the worst in themselves. Don’t get me wrong, i despise Mosley if only for his exagerated superiority complex, but the way Todt is going to make things work is not necessarily better than Max’ way. I really don’t see Mosley backing up a candidate the way he did with Todt if abundant novelty is in the menu. Sorry to differ. I admit i still think of Todt as the man that threw up a coin to decide the winner of a Paris-Dakar. By the way James, i would love any insight in the Schumacher-Todt-Berger negociations on the summer of ’95…

      2. Tim Lamkin says:

        …and that is going to help F1……

  9. Mike from Medellin, Colombia says:

    So the FIA is changing from a British “mafia” to a French one?

    1. Curro says:

      changing back, you mean

    2. jose says:

      i wonder what f1art would think.

  10. Phil says:

    Surely compulsary pit stops take away from the essence of formula 1, not to mention a potential window of opportunity for strategic diversity. I hope f1 notices the farce that these developments have made in other forms of motorsport. If the tyre rules are appropriate the issue will not exist.

    1. Nadeem Zreikat says:

      2 compulsory stops not worth it. It would take away from what the refuelling ban was all about. I am hoping to see if any driver can make it on one stop depending on tyre situation compounds etc. The idea of racing flat out all the time can get boring and again a driver will wait until the stops to make a pass. Remember the classic Senna vs Mansell Monaco 92 Senna’s tyres were shot. We saw close racing- be it any other circuit besides Monaco a pass could have been done.

  11. bill says:

    Great article james, lots of inside info, thank you

  12. Malcom says:

    Good..Donnelly gone….There truly is a God. He played an important role in that discrace, which had occurred at Spa in 2008.

    1. jose says:

      then we all should be happy he is gone. the rip off on the italian gp 2006, they did on alonso, was probably his as well. Sooner or later they all pay for their sporting crimes. They have done so much damage to the sport, the deservto be out.

  13. Jason C says:

    I always dread this tinkering around with the rules. It’s often left us with very dodgy results (viz. the endless fiddling that has gone on with qualifying between the 1 hour free-for all and the current system). I always found the climax of the 1 hour session thrilling, in fact in ’02 it was more exciting than the race most of the time (go JPM!).

    A compulsory number of pit stops would be terrible. Why do it? – it’s totally artificial, and not sporting at all. I understand why they require 2 tyre compounds to be used per race, and although I find that artificial too, this would surely put the nail in the coffin of unpredictability.

  14. David says:

    Good riddance to bad rubbish.

  15. Rich C says:

    As for ‘spicing up the show’ they could take a few ideas from other motorsports. From (gasp!) dirt track racing they could adopt the idea of reversing the grid position of the first (random X) qualifiers. They could also break it up into qualifying heats with only the first Y finishers advancing to the Main Event. Dirt track racing is a wild and crazy thing to watch, and theres always action, even if they are just going around in little ovals! Its probably too lowbrow for F1 to even acknowledge it exists of course.

    1. Topless Porridge says:

      Figure of 8 tracks, maybe…? That’d be a wild and crazy thing to watch.

  16. Stephen Kellett JAF1 says:

    Also on the table was the subject of compulsory two stop strategies, starting the race on qualifying tyres and other ideas.

    Compulsory pit stops? What a dreadful idea. They’ll also stop about the same time.

    What they should do is have no compulsory stops and if you don’t stop you don’t have to run 2 tyre compounds. If you do stop, you do have to run both compounds.

    So some teams can gamble the tyre will last a whole race and risk it, with a huge time advantage but a wear disadvantage, and other teams will take the hit on the pitstop but have the better rubber.

    That makes for much more analysis, understanding and strategy. And some unexpected outcomes, maybe?

  17. Mike from Medellin, Colombia says:

    James, off topic I know – but any thoughts on Norbert Haug’s comments regarding No.1 status in the Mercedes team.

    He has not towed the usual politically correct line of “no No.1 – drivers given equal equipment to do the job”.

    Haug stated that Schumacher earned his No.1 status at Ferrari and would have to do the same at Mercedes if he expects similar treatment:

    “To be a team’s No.1 is done only through extraordinary effort, and I trust that both of our drivers will give this, especially if we give them a very good car.”

    Seems like he’s leaving the door open to Ross moulding the team around Schumacher at some point in the season???

    1. James Allen says:

      See my latest post on Rosberg

  18. Glen says:

    Hopefully they won’t change the points system and allow teams to have free reign on strategy for the races. Also, would be nice to allow teams to start on whatever tyres they wanted, especially now they are back to proper low-fuel qualifying. I can still remember very clearly some of Montoya’s qualifying laps at Monza.

  19. PaulL says:

    I disagree with the sentiment that it’s necessarily “good” that Donnelly has been pushed aside.

    The stewarding in the latter half of the ‘noughties’ showed that they were prepared to do something about incorrect driving, even if it wasn’t clear-cut cheating or bad sportsmanship. I felt too many drivers were pushing the rules of fairness and it was good to see ‘corrective’ action taken.

    I thought it was an extremely astute decision to penalise Schumacher at Monaco 2006 given they’d deliberated on the technical evidence for 4-odd hours. And whilst many will bemoan Hamilton’s penalty at Spa 2008, it served a useful purpose that chicane hopping is now being taken with some sincerity as incorrect driving.
    Do you remember Schumacher’s chicane chopping at Hungary 2006? I thought that was borderline incorrect in the least, it had become too easy for a driver to use the tarmac run off which is there for SAFETY to cut a corner and gain an advantage. The professionalism of stewarding in this area was increased at Monza this year when the stewards set out that a driver could not miss more than 3 chicanes under any circumstances without incurring a penalty.

    They didn’t always get it right, Alonso’s Monza 06 penalty for example, sometimes the rules didn’t get it right either, but as F1 has evolved so has the borderline driving from competitors in terms of manipulating their car as a weapon and using the safety features to gain an advantage.

    But the point is, I think Donnelly deserves some merit for the improvements made in stewarding. F1 is on the right track there I believe!

    1. Peter Freeman says:

      Hamilton was not penalised for cutting the chicane, he was penalised for leaving the track. To date he remains the only driver in the history of F1 to ever be penalised in this manner.

      Some might see it as a coincidence that this once-in-history penalty went in favour of Ferrari and was overseen by a business associate of theirs, other might see it as blatant match fixing.

      What ever I think fans have more or less universally been dismayed at the standard of stewarding in the last few years. To describe Donnelly as an incompetently inconsistent overseer would be a moderate assessment of his time in F1.

      Now that he is gone I believe you may be correct in assessing F1 to be on the right track.

      1. PaulL says:

        The old Freeman’s back.

        I think perhaps various outspoken British and English speaking F1 fans have been “dismayed” at the stewarding. F1 fans in places like Italy and Spain may or may not have had a problem with it. In Australia I haven’t heard an overwhelming chorus of dissent regarding stewards decisions.

      2. Peter Freeman says:

        Ah Mr PaulL, I think I understand how you see things. Its not what happened that counts, its where the person speaking comes from that matters. So for example an Englishman pointing out anything out does not count because he is English. This is known in some parts as racism.

  20. Peter says:

    It’s good that Donnely has gone. He should have left after the disgrace of Spa 2008 and Japan 2008 (where Bourdais was penalised for an ‘infringement’ involving Championship contender Felipe Massa). Good riddance.

  21. Henry Manney says:

    Perhaps we should now think of the FIA as …

    Organization Todt

  22. Paul Kirk says:

    They/we wanna see “spiced up” racing? Yeah, great idea, couldn’t agree more, but all this b/shit with points, pit stops, qualifying points, fastest lap points etc., isn’t actually “spiceing up” the RACING! Only confusing the results!
    I keep saying, (I know it dosen’t help the situation) that they (the rule makers) should regulate car design so as to alow slipstreaming, following closely etc., to encourage passing, outbreaking etc., and the only way to achieve that is to reduce the cars’ relience on downforce from wings and things on the upper body, and be more reliant on ground effects (which are less effected by turbulance created by the vehicle in front) and mechanical grip.
    Another issue, and I dont know the answer, is “marbles” on the track everywere except in the “groove”, this makes it risky when trying to outbreak a competitor, maybe tyre compounds that don’t throw of parts of the tread as they wear down, is an answer, who knows.
    But one thing’s for sure, (sorry Jenson), racing on the TRACK is what needs improvement, not funny points alocations!!!!!
    PK.

    1. Murray says:

      I agree, Paul. I’d like FIA to work towards enforcing a maximum downforce figure for body/chassis/aero. Development would instead be pushed towards mechanical grip, handling, behaviour in traffic, and consistency of those factors over a race.

  23. Peppers says:

    This is really encouraging news. It is good to see that Todt is being his own man, and we can only hope at this stage that it results in better control of F1.

    Close racing and brave overtaking moves should not be encouraged. Penalties should only apply when someone has been reckless and ruined someones race.

  24. Steven Simes says:

    “The key appointment due to be made soon is F1 commissioner, a new and powerful position. The commissioner will be the face of the FIA at F1 events and the touch point for the teams and FOM with the governing body.”
    This is a very worrying subject for all those F-1 fans that suffered under the MM regime. Please reassure us that Mosley is not a candidate for this position. If he is and he gets it we will be back to square one with the stress and trouble this man causes in the name of his hideous ego! This would be a good topic for you to cover.

  25. The Limit says:

    I hope that this a step in the right direction for Jean Todt’s administration. Some of the decisions in recent years involving stewards at grands prix did great damage to Formula One’s image. I think it was imperative that Todt made the changes that he did, and I can only hope that the stewarding in Formula One will improve because of it.
    In this day and age, we can no longer have grands prix results decided several hours after a grands prix has finished, like we saw in Spa in 2008. When the level of expertise among the drivers and teams is so high, the standards of the ruling body must be equal to that expertise level or even greater.
    The importance here is the integrity of the sport, and the way it is percieved globally.

  26. RON says:

    Max Mosely’s rotten crew are getting booted out of F1…

    About 6 years too late, in my opinion…

    When you have such imbeciles running F1, it’s not surprising to see 97% of the people wanting a breakaway to succeed…

    I think Charlie Whiting should also face the axe, as he was central to the diffuser scandal…

  27. StefMeister says:

    Freeman:
    “Hamilton was not penalised for cutting the chicane, he was penalised for leaving the track. To date he remains the only driver in the history of F1 to ever be penalised in this manner. ”

    The actual wording of the stewards decision was ‘Cut the chicane and gained an advantage’

    http://img193.imageshack.us/img193/8017/hamiltonpenaltyspa.jpg

    Despite all the complaints it was actually a fairly consistent ruling. Look back at Suzuka 2005 when Alonso cut the chicane & passed Christian Klien, He then let Klien back past but repassed him straght away. A couple laps later Alonso was ordered to let Klien re-pass him.

    Was pretty much an identical situation apart from it happened much earlier in the race so they could get Alonso to let Klien back past. At Spa 2008 it was too late in the race to make the same decision so they went with a 25 second penalty.

    The thing to remember about schumacher missing the chicane at Hungary in 2006 was that he was overtaken by De La Rosa a lap or 2 later & when he did the same thing with Heidfeld a few laps later they touched & Schumacher retired with damaged right/front suspension. In that case no penalty was necisary as in the end neither cut gained him anything.

    Finally at Spa 2008 only 2 other drivers disagreed with the penalty, every driver apart from Sutil & Kovalainen agreed with the penalty Lewis was given & the reasons for it. In my book the drivers opinions mean something as there the one’s who understand exactly whats what in that sort of situation.

  28. Ben G says:

    Points for Pole?

    So, final race of the season, two drivers separated by one point for the championship, a corker of a contest in prospect… and it’s all over by Saturday afternoon?

    Genius.

  29. SplinterBoy says:

    With all the hype going into the new season (all warranted – i can’t wait!), this F1 commissioner has kinda slipped under the radar a little. I’ve been waiting for some info on Todts team to come out & personally i’m pleased to see the back of Donnelly.
    I ask you though James, Who would you have on a shortlist of 3 for F1 comish and why?

    Ha ha, just read that back & it sounds like one of the 3 questions they used to do on Blind Date!!

    1. James Allen says:

      Good question – if you wanted an ex driver someone like Gerhard Berger would fit the bill, he’s very good at operating at the highest level in F1. A non-political figure is essential, it needs to be a good manager, who has the trust of all sides. Alternatively an outsider who has no baggage in F1 at all, someone with a strong track record from industry or sports administration in another series.

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