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Fans get a chance to talk to the sport face to face
Fans get a chance to talk to the sport face to face
Posted By: James Allen  |  21 Jun 2010   |  6:20 pm GMT  |  131 comments

Formula 1 fans are to get the chance to meet face to face with leading figures from the sport, team principals, engineers and drivers at a groundbreaking event in London.

The FOTA Fans Forum, powered by Santander is a unique opportunity for the fans and the sport to come together and exchange ideas.

The idea came from the comments section on this site. We’ve regularly taken fans’ questions and points and put them to people in the sport. Now this event, organised in conjunction with the Formula One Teams Association, goes one step further and brings fans even closer to the sport. It offers the chance to engage face to face with key decision makers from the pit wall and to have your voices heard.

The panel for the July 1 event is led by Martin Whitmarsh, FOTA chairman and team principal of Vodafone McLaren Mercedes and features Tony Fernandes, team principal of Lotus Racing, Jock Clear, Senior Race Engineer, Mercedes GP Petronas F1 team, Luca Colajanni, Head of Motorsport Press Office, Scuderia Ferrari Marlboro, Paul di Resta test and reserve driver, Force India F1 team.

The free event will start at 1pm. Taking the form of a 90 minute discussion in a “Question Time” format in the theatre at the British Academy of Film and Television Arts, in London’s Piccadilly, fans will have the opportunity to ask questions and to offer their points of view on all the key talking points in the sport at the moment.

With the Santander British Grand Prix taking place a week later the revised Silverstone circuit is sure to be one of the topics under discussion, but it’s up to you the fans to set the agenda; Team orders, overtaking, new circuits? What’s on your mind?

If you would like to attend the Fans Forum, there are 150 places available on a first come first served basis. The event is free. All you have to do is register your email address and the question you would like to ask on the day. Attendees will be notified in due course.

Everyone who signs in on the day will be entered into a draw for three stunning prizes, including a ride in the Santander 2 seater GP car with Martin Brundle and tickets for the Grand Prix. The winners will be drawn during the event.

To find out more details and to register for a place click here FANS FORUM APPLICATIONS

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1. Flatten Concorde payments and stop using the Concorde as a glorified racing purse. It’s unprofessional and embarrassing way to conduct business. The current arrangement makes “cheating” the rules a wildly profitable endeavor. Maybe you should help combat that incentive.

2. Impose a budget cap at a nice high figure that doesn’t disadvantage the strong teams, but still protects the likes of Scuderia Ferrari, McLaren, and Williams from the likes of Honda, Toyota, Ford, and Volkswagen. Let’s say 100m or 150m Euros. No more cryptic RRA agreements. If the cap is low enough, some factories might choose to run a clean livery so they can focus on racing instead of pandering to sponsors. WHAT A NOVEL CONCEPT!!!

3. Continue to keep Bernie in line. Push for more commercial rights revenue.

4. Continue the current homologation procedures.

5. Leave the sport in better condition than when you found it.

Do these things or fail. Myopic obsession with #3 and #4 is not acceptable anymore.


What a FANtastic idea! Geddit????

Just received email confirmation of my place at the fams forum. Great news!

After sending my question in, I saved a copy on my laptop hard-drive, but regrettably this has just expired expensively.

As my question was rather long and I cannot remember exactly how it was phrased, would it be possible for you to send me a copy of my question? Apologies for being a pain, but I don’t want to guess at what it was.

The question was regarding the panel’s views about young drivers and possible changes to the testing limitations.

I emailed Simon W, and he said you could remind me on the day, but I wondered if it would be easier before then, as you will be hugely busy at the event.

Thanks for your help, apologies for adding to your workload, and sorry for being so forgetful!


“With the difficulties experienced by drivers taking over mid-season, and the limitations imposed on testing favouring mature drivers with greater experience, would the panel be keen to change the regulations to allow new and reserve drivers to gain more experience within the cars and help develop new talent? If so, what regulation changes would they make to help bring the younger and less experienced drivers into the sport to minimise the possibility of them fairing badly on their debut, dissapointing their fans and potentially shortening their careers at the pinnacle of the sport?”


I’m sure I’m not the only person who can’t remember the exact wording of their question! Mine was about dropping the mandatory use of both types of tyre.

See the other 149 of you there!


Thanks James for your super-quick reply.

Thought you would be too busy today with all the practice action.

Phew, not surprised I forgot exactly how it went.

Looking forward to seeing everyone at this great event.


This is a fantastic initiative, thanks to James and FOTA. I’ll be there! 🙂


..and to Santander, who are sponsoring the whole thing

Stephen Pattenden

Just heard back from them – I’m in!

I’m very much looking forward to meeting you in person James.

Thank you so much for this unique opportunity.



James, I sent my question but judging by the comments on here I was probably too late. Gutted.

Well done for organising it anyway, it sounds like an amazing opportunity to connect with the sport.

If any spaces do become available, I live in London so could make it at short notice.


Thanks for that.


James, just to clarify the situation here. If we haven’t had an e-mail back now confirming attendance, i.e we only got an e-mail requesting we confirm out attendance, then can we assume that we didn’t make the final 150?


No. The emails confirming a place are going out today to the first 150 who sent back the email you mention.


Ok thanks for the update, just got my confirmation e-mail come through.

Looking forward to it!

Matt Wilmshurst

James, sorry to repeat a string of the same questions but wondering if i am down to attend the forum? My emails have been playing up. Congratulations regarding this, your time and effort put into this sport and the interaction with fans is second to none!


Hi James, when do we find out if we have been lucky? I replied to the email yesterday and am now just waiting! Thanks!


An email goes out tomorrow. We were massively oversubscribed, but we did it first come first served as promised. As long as you got your confirmation in by 9am today you should be fine



You are fantastic! I got an invite yesterday and have written back. This is how the sport gets fans for life. I’m on the other side of the pond in the US so I don’t think I’ll be able to get visa et al ready in time. I hope that my question is asked even though I’m not able to make it.

Here is the question in any case and it would be great if you could give us your take on it:

Rule changes v/s Track changes –

Some circuits on the calendar more often than not produce scintillating races irrespective of the weather or the set of rules for that year. Should the FIA and teams get together and focus on changing the other tracks rather than change the rules every year? How much input do the teams and drivers currently provide to the FIA about changes to existing tracks and during construction of new ones?

Track changes may end up costing less than the costs incurred by teams with rule changes at the end of every year. Also, the sport would be less confusing for the average fan who would not have to keep relearning the rules all over again.


We will take some remote questions on the day, time permitting, so thanks for that.


Thank you. Hope we get to watch a streaming broadcast.


Hi james, i recieved an email asking to confirm i could attend and send my mobile number, as yet i’ve heard nothing, how long will it be before they get in touch, thanks


You are confirmed. You should get an email shortly. Thanks for your support and see you there!


I spoke to Simon yesterday after getting my email, am really looking forward to the event, i wouldn’t miss it for the world, well done for getting it put together.


Thanks, it should be fun


Hi James,

Great to see such events happening, when do you think we’ll likely hear if we’re one of the lucky few?



You are in. I believe the emails are going out very shortly. We have been very oversubscribed. It really is first come first served


Confirmed my attendance yesterday! 🙂 Just waiting for the event details. I cant wait…

PS. Trains are a rip off but im willing to pay £120 return to spend a day in london and speak to the FOTA panel.


I’m on the other side of the planet this month so cannot attend, but I would love for someone to take my place and ask:

Why can’t F1 shareholders work together to deliver a logical bodywork and aero framework to promote overtaking?

Instead we see the FIA repeatedly introducing band-aid solutions such as the CDG wing, adjustable wing elements, and they completely nullified the overtaking working group’s improvements for the 2009 season by green-lighting the double diffuser concept.


Just confirmed my attendance. Can’t wait!


Hi James,

Got an email from Simon Wittenberg regarding the event can I just check that is legitimate as the companies website when searched from Google is blocked by Firefox and Chrome as it tries to install spyware, going to the actual address is fine.




It is legitimate. He is working with me on the organisation of the event. Thanks


“…er, it’s me who asked people to submit the questions so I can plan the flow of the discussion…”

Ahh, that explains some of your replies then.

My advice would be to supply a question FOTA will want to use, then ask one that will put them on the back foot.

This ‘question time’ format is for politicians, and who trusts them?



I initially thought I could make this and I then checked my work diary today.

gutted us not quite the word for it.

Thanks for organising and sorry I can’t go.

Keep up the good work!


That’s too bad



My question I would have asked is in relation to track choice. More and more f1 is going to emerging markets rather than picking the best places to go racing (as in best tracks and largest f1 support via fans etc)?Is f1 in danger of going to far down the route of satisfying sponsors at the expense of racing.


How about limiting the amount KERS is used, say you’d get to use 20 times a race or something. The way it was last season the cars would largely cancel out each other when using it at the same times, it would introduce another strategic element for the drivers.


My question when applying for a place at the event was very much along these lines.


This is a fantastic event and one the f1 fans really do appreciate. I for one really do. I hope I can secure my spot. 😉

I would like to see a test drivers charity race on the Friday in lotus sports cars. This would improve the show. Seeing the test drivers have at it.


My age might be catching up with me here, after all I logged on to for reasons other than insurance. But do I remember seeing team princals racing in Escorts? There’s a vague image of Frank Williams and Colin Chapman swopping paint.

Around 1970 or so and it would have been at Brands.

Perhaps I’ll ask the nurse for some more pills.


Hey James – Not sure how to email you directly, but have you seen this footage of JV @ Road America in the Nationwide series?

Really reminds me of his old man, ballsy moves with a damaged car!


You really notice just how good British motor sport commentators are when you listen to their American counterparts!


Thanks for sharing that


I get the mobile version of this site when I enter the front page and when I try to disable the mobile skin, it just reloads the mobile again.

And I am not on a mobile so it is a bit annoying.


Love the idea. Spot on.

I’m not really into going to events myself (and certainly not askin questions) but I will be 100% viewing whatever media relates to the outcome. btw IMO Martin Whitmarsh has to be one of the best TP this season regarding how open he appears to be after races (on the BBC forum).


Many of the team principals have made themselves available to BBC. It’s been a revelation this season, and a vast improvement. We even had the spectacle of three together.

Fair enough they seemed a wee bit relectant to speak their minds but we did have Brawn say that, in essence, he regretted the Ferrari years of the one man team. He didn’t pass the buck either, but actually appeared to accept blame.

Ron Dennis is something of a hero of mine but I can’t help wondering how much more sympathy a better television presentation might have generated for his team. I spoke with RD at Goodwood in a one-to-one for a few minutes and he was nothing like he is in public.

Long may this availability of TPs continue. And, perhaps, develop.

Whitmarsh does come over as a thoroughly decent chap who is also an F1 fanatic. Still, given how RD’s character changed dramatically for TV I expect Martin went straight from the interview and threw a gerbil on the barbeque.

Ted the Mechanic

Any chance of bringing it to New Zealand… 🙁

Great idea though!


I saw on that the WMSC will be deciding on eliminating movable front wings in 2011 and going to movable rear wings. Although the Can-Am cars of old had them, why would they do this for modern formula 1? Straight line speed would increase but it would create nasty imbalances if it cannot be changed back in the same instance. I cannot imagine heading into a tight corner with a light back-end; the car would be monstrously oversteery. While this might get you past on the straight, you might be pointing in the wrong direction when the car you just passed dips inside you under breaking.

What was the logic in this, do you know?


The idea was that it is no different than the F-Duct in terms of reducing drag down the straights, but harnessed as yet another “push-to-pass” gimmick.

The logic is totally flawed, as the only “overtaking” will be a drive-by 3/4 of the way down the straight, and will be more reminiscent of passing a lapped car than one for position. Who honestly gets excited about that?

This whole idea of the drafting pass down a long straight into a tight corner hasn’t worked, otherwise every race held on a Tilke track would have been a scorcher. If they really want circuit and car design to improve overtaking (in both quantity and quality), they really need to work on figuring out how you can pass from corner to corner. Figuring out which combinations of corners and short straights encourage overtaking is what is needed. Look at the Canadian GP; a lot of overtaking was done on the short “straights” between the S-bends on the backside of the circuit. Almost none was done into the hairpin or down the straight before the final chicane.

They should set up security cameras around the track, or put on-boards on all of the cars, and then analyse where the various passes are made and see if there is a common trend, such as corner-type, overtaking car, overtaken car, time of race, tire compound, etc. Do the statistics and then decide where to go from there.

These silly drive-by pass gimmicks are pointless, and the “overtaking” we do see won’t be interesting. It seems like they are trying to cop out of doing some real homework on the issue.


James, when do you plan to confirm who will be attending as I’d need a few days notice to book holiday… as I’m sure a few other people need as well.

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