Following on from the success of last year’s FOTA Fans’ Forum in London, last night saw the first of the 2011 events at Montreal with an audience of 240 knowledgeable and enthusiastic Canadian and American fans.
The event, organised in conjunction with US based Grand Prix Tours, featured lively discussion about the Bahrain Grand Prix, the new style racing with high levels of overtaking and advice from fans on how F1 should market itself in the USA. There was also a lot of discussion on F1′s engagement with social networks.
One topic which really took off was the 2013 engine rules, with a majority of the fans against the idea of small capacity turbo engines and very concerned about the noise the engines might make.
There was also a lot of discussion about the penalties the stewards have been handing out – particularly in Monaco – and how fans felt that went against the spirit of the rules that brought in the DRS and Pirelli’s high wear tyres.
“Monaco was a special event, ” said Heikki Kovalainen, who appeared with Nico Hulkenberg and Mike Gascoyne in the discussion on the racing in 2011. “Every year you get that. Every time you go to overtake someone there is a risk of having an accident and this year with the Pirelli tyres when you have different condition in the tyres these situations arrive more often. We need to wait until the end of the season to make a better judgement. I don’t think the stewards are discouraging the drivers to overtake, now we have more overtaking we have more incidents so the stewards will penalise the drivers more often because we make more mistakes overtaking more.”
A fan called Tristan Baker asked Martin Whitmarsh and Eric Boullier about the 2013 engine proposals. He wanted to know what the teams had to say to fans who don’t think the turbocharge four cylinder engines are good for F1,
“Traditionally any change creates some confusion and some people who don’t like it, ” said Boullier. ” From time to time we need to change the regulations to keep the motivation for our engineers, to bring new technology and to create some new interest and new challenge.
“We understand the concern of the fans with this small engine not revving very high.”
Some fans expressed their view that F1 doesn’t need to be road car relevant, didn’t think that the new engines would make much difference to the sport’s overall environmental footprint and one fan said he didn’t want to be “standing by a straight watching the cars roar past at 200 mph sounding like a Subaru.”
There will be some video of the event over the next couple of days as well as a transcript of what was said.
There will be further FOTA Fans’ Forum events in the UK later this month and in Italy in September.