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.”