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F1 key men will have to get licences
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F1 key men will have to get licences
Posted By: James Allen  |  25 Mar 2011   |  9:45 am GMT  |  22 comments

The FIA has announced the introduction of a registration system for team principals and key engineers and all the F1 teams have agreed to abide by it. This puts them on the same footing as the drivers.


The scheme is a direct result of the Singapore crashgate scandal of 2008, where the Federation had no lever over then Renault team principal Flavio Briatore and senior engineer Pat Symonds over the deliberate accident in the Singapore Grand Prix. At the time only the team itself and the drivers were subject to FIA licences. Now if there were a repeat or an act similarly damaging to the sport, the licences of those involved could be suspended or revoked.

Today the FIA said “All Formula One teams will be required to nominate a number of senior team members to register with the FIA at the start of each season.”

These key men, and women, will have to abide by the FIA Code of Good Standing, which among other points says, “All FIA Licence-Holders and all Participants in International Events must not, in any way whatsoever, infringe the principles of fairness in competition, behave in an unsportsmanlike manner or attempt to influence the result of a competition in a way that is contrary to sporting ethics, in
particular within the context of betting on the competitions registered on the International Sporting Calendar.”

The concept of “fairness in competition” is pretty wide open and it will be interesting to see if there are any pushes to encourage prosecution on this charge for things which happen in the cut and thrust of F1 competition, which sometimes is not fair, as countless message boards will attest.

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22 Comments
  1. Bevan says:

    I can see why Max Mosely didn’t introduce this concept.

    1. wayne says:

      I share the sentiment behind your comment. This can only be a positive thing if the FIA acts with discretion. These licences and the power they give the FIA over key individuals should only be flexed in response to the most serious violations such as Crash-gate. Luckily Max is out of the picture so using them to pursue personal vendettas is likely not to happen. Accountability is key but must be balanced against the prospect of ‘over regulation’ which the FIA is a little prone to instigating….

    2. AGreekInGermany says:

      And why?

    3. Max initially proposed the idea in the initial aftermath of the Singapore 2008 Affair’s court case, but Jean took over the office before it could be implemented.

  2. Harvey Yates says:

    Isn’t this more as a result of losing the commercial rights income from FOM? The 14-year deal ends this year I believe.

    The FIA needs to get funds from somewhere.

  3. Bobby says:

    The law is similar to a rule in NASCAR, which has licenced drivers, tyre changers, tyre carriers, fuelers, jackmen, engineers, and management. Such rules are imposed where officials can eject or suspend offenders for violations such as illegal equipment on cars (Chad Knaus has been ejected for illegal equipment on cars), serious pit fouls (running across prohibited zones to retrieve errant tyres), fighting, using calling others a racial slur, illegal abuse of scruntineering equipment, or unsportsmanlike conduct. Because of the nature of pit crews there (and the background of many are former intercollegiate athletes), they are drug-tested at random and will be suspended for failing any drug test imposed.

    Last year, four drivers and a crew member (a driver’s mother; in club racing often a driver’s family will be part of the licenced crew) were revoked of NASCAR licences for throwing equipment, fighting, and attacking other drivers for an incident during a club meet in Thompson, Connecticut.

    Hopefully the FIA will also licence pit crew members with the same policy.

  4. YuppieScum says:

    “…must not, in any way whatsoever, infringe the principles of fairness in competition, behave in an unsportsmanlike manner or attempt to influence the result of a competition in a way that is contrary to sporting ethics…”

    So, how would Ferrari have faired last year if this rule had been in place?

    Or will there be, as usual, a hidden sub-clause that states “unless it positively affects a red car.”

    1. With slight variations, all of the stipulations written there were in place last year, so there would have been no difference to Ferrari. The distinction now is that individuals in certain positions are also bound by the same rules, and subject to the same penalties, as the corporate entities of the teams which employ them.

  5. Red5 says:

    Will be interesting to see how this can be fairly policed.

    Has the FIA considered mud wrestling as a method to resolve disputes between drivers and team principles?

    Some post-race entertainment before the post-race analysis.

  6. Goob says:

    The FIA are the real problem in F1 – the less relevant they are to the racing the better.

    F1 could not be in worse hands then the FIA.

    The world of racing desperately needs an alternative to the FIA.

    I do not have an ounce of faith in an unaudited body/monopoly, like the FIA.

    The only purpose these license will serve, is to control who stays in the exclusive club, and abides by the bad calls the FIA usually make.

    Just look at the difference in opinion between the fans of racing, and where the FIA stand on moveable rear wings..

    1. murray says:

      Historically, when other sporting bodies “increase” the penalties they impose if the accused defend themselves, they don’t like it painted like that. Instead, they spin it that the greatest possible penalty is the default, but if the accused accept the kicking and plead guilty, the penalty is “reduced”. Summary autocracy painted as judicious. Licensing makes it easy. Ask Niki Lauda, South Africa ’84.

  7. Neil Jenney says:

    Sounds about as much use as the “no team orders” rule. If you can’t enforce it, it’s a waste of time.

    1. And if the powers-that-be don’t want to enforce it, it doesn’t matter if it can be enforced or not, but that’s a story for another blog entry…

  8. malcolm.strachan says:

    So the ladies don’t need licences? ;-)

    1. At least one of them does – Sauber’s team manager, Monisha Kaltenborn, will need a licence to do her job.

      1. malcolm.strachan says:

        Haha, that was my point… just a fun little jab at Mr. Allen for his use of the term “men” rather than “personnel”. ;)

  9. murray says:

    The FIA DID have levers to punish Briatore, but they would’ve had to pursue them through the civil courts. Because they believed their control over the sport was absolute, they dispensed what amounted to summary penalty over Briatore after little more than tribunal declaration, which is not what civil legal systems accept as a standard of justice. They were also surprised that the civil courts didn’t see it their way, and that the ruling of the civil court superimposed their own. This latest move doesn’t improve transparency or justice, it just moves the FIA closer to having the sort of control that they thought they did, prior to the Renault affair.

  10. Philip says:

    Hello James.

    You write, “Now if there were a repeat or an act similarly damaging to the sport, the licences of those involved could be suspended or revoked”, and this is of course spot on.

    But what about events in the past, like, well, that one? Some commentators are convinced that the FIA will deny licences to those involved in “Crashgate”, thereby achieving an end run around the settlement of Briatore’s court case.

    Personally I doubt it, partly because it would be an invitation to new litigation, and I wouldn’t support it, because it’s essentially applying a law that didn’t exist at the time of the offence (+1 to murray’s 2:16am 26/3). But I’ve obviously got no idea what the FIA will actually do. And at least one highly respected commentator and journalist is -adamant- that that’s the deal. Can you comment?

    Cheers, and thanks for a great blog.

  11. Nilesh says:

    Will this stop the likes of Briatore entering and helping a team as independent contractors or with a changed or nondescript designation?

    1. James Allen says:

      Draw your own conclusions. Pat Symonds meanwhile is back as a consultant at Virgin and according to paddock rumour, may soon become more important there

      1. Nilesh says:

        That’s exactly what came to mind when I read this. It would be a real shame and mockery if those two are allowed back. What’s the purpose of codifying laws which are easy to circumvent?

      2. Feature creep. It starts a system that future FIA presidents can strengthen as the system is tested. There are also limits on how much the FIA can do – I’m not sure it legally can enforce its own controls on contractors which do not deal directly with it, for instance.

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