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Longest F1 season, licences for managers; analysis of FIA decisions
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Longest F1 season, licences for managers; analysis of FIA decisions
Posted By: James Allen  |  08 Sep 2010   |  5:18 pm GMT  |  87 comments

Today has seen some quite significant announcements from the FIA World Motor Sport Council, which was also meeting to judge the Ferrari team orders case. The team has got away with no further punishment, but I will post on that separately.

The WMSC announced that there would be no 13th team in F1 next season as none of the applicants fit the criteria for entry. It announced a 20 race calendar for 2011 and has introduced a licencing system for senior team personnel, something JA on F1 proposed last year when the Singapore crash scandal broke. F1 drivers also face the threat of losing their racing licences if they misbehave on public roads.

F1 Calendar
The first thing to analyse is the calendar. The 2011 season will be the longest in F1 history with 20 events from March to November in 19 countries. Spain has two races with Barcelona and Valencia (European GP) remaining on the calendar.

India is set to host its first GP, which is pretty hotly anticipated given that it is probably the most sports mad country among the emerging markets. India has its own F1 team franchise and an Indian F1 driver and is growing in popularity. I expect F1’s debut there next season to be well attended, passionate and massively appealing to sponsors, given the size of the market there.

Abu Dhabi has lost its coveted slot as the final race, in place of Brazil, which will be a disappointment to the organisers.

2011 F1 Calendar
13/03 Bahrain; 27/03 Australia; 10/04; Malaysia; 17/04 China; 08/05 Turkey; 22/05 Spain; 29/05 Monaco; 12/06 Canada; 26/06 Europe; 10/07 Great Britain; 24/07 Germany
31/07 Hungary; 28/08 Belgium; 11/09 Italy; 25/09 Singapore; 09/10 Japan; 16/10 Korea
30/10 India; 13/11 Abu Dhabi; 27/11 Brazil

The 20 race calendar has been a dream of Bernie Ecclestone’s for many years. I remember doing an interview with him ten years ago when he said 20 races was the right number. He struggled to get the teams to see it that way. They are contracted to do 16 and they receive additional payments for each additional race.

For Ecclestone’s business partners CVC, adding race revenues are a vital way of increasing the income they require to service the $2.7 billion debt they have on the business.

The 20 race calendar will bring in significant revenue for the sport. The target for revenues from circuit promotion in 2011 in the CVC business plan is US$445. If they are on target with this latest calendar then this makes the average sanctioning fee to host a Grand Prix $22.25 million (£14 million). In 2012 the US Grand Prix will return in Austin, Texas, but it is not yet clear whether this will be a 21st GP or whether one of the existing races will make way.

The 13th F1 team franchise
The Concorde Agreement allows for 13 teams to race in F1. There are currently 12 including the three new teams which joined this season. The admission process last year came in for some criticism after USF1 was granted an entry, but turned out to be smoke and mirrors.

The three new teams have struggled to varying degrees but Lotus and Virgin have made a decent fist of it on budgets of around £45 million for the season and everyone expects them to be on the pace of the smallest of the established teams next season.

This summer when ART Grand Prix, the most successful team in junior categories, announced that an F1 project was unviable, it always looked likely that no team would be able to make the 13th and today that was confirmed, “It was considered that none of the candidates met the requirements to be granted an entry into the Championship,” said the WMSC statement. “Consequently, the allocation of the 13th team will not be granted.”

Even if a team had the financial clout to do F1, it would have been very hard to be alone as a new team in 2011, driving round some three or four seconds off the pace.

Today’s decision may prompt some mergers among the small teams and aspirant teams. There is talk of a merger between the Murcia, Spain backed HRT team and Epsilon Euskadi, which has backing from another region of Spain. However HRT boss Colin Kolles has visions of moving the whole operation to Germany.


Licences for team personnel
When Flavio Briatore and Pat Symonds were tried by the FIA World Motor Sport Council a year ago for their part in the conspiracy to cause a deliberate accident in the 2008 Singapore Grand Prix, the FIA had no lever over them as they were not licence holders. FIA president Max Mosley was keen to throw Briatore out of F1 but the way he went about it using FIA channels, proved a problem with the civil courts and Briatore was able to overturn his life ban.

Today the FIA WMSC began a process to introduce licences for key team figures, such as team principals, senior engineers and race engineers. It amounts to a “fit and proper person” test.

“The aim is to introduce a system that ensures they are subject to the criteria set out in a new FIA Code of Good Standing. This would apply to a minimum of six people per competitor, including the Team Principal, Sporting Director, Team Manager, Technical Director and two race engineers (or equivalent), ” said the FIA.

This looks to me like a good idea, indeed JA on F1 suggested this last season when the Singapore scandal broke. It is long overdue and one wonders why it wasn’t in place before.


F1 drivers on best behaviour on roads
Lewis Hamilton will be unpopular among his peers tonight after his “hooning” incident on the streets of Melbourne this year has brought about a compliance issue for racing drivers when they are using public roads in their private life.

“A proposal to amend the international sporting code will be submitted to the FIA General Assembly to clarify that any holder of an International Super Licence must also be in possession of a current road driving licence,” the FIA announced today. “Additionally, the Code will be amended to clarify that if an International Super Licence holder is involved in a serious road traffic offence recognised by a national police authority, the FIA, depending on the severity of the case, may issue a warning or refer the matter to the International Disciplinary Tribunal, which may temporarily or indefinitely withdraw the competitor’s International Super Licence.”

The FIA is very serious about its Make Roads Safe campaign, part of a UN decade of action to try to save 5 million lives on the road. F1 drivers as the most high profile motorists on the planet, are duty bound to set an example on the roads and Hamilton’s burnouts in Australia have brought about a new level of compliance which the drivers will have to observe. Most of them have been caught speeding at some point and they will have to be careful in future or they may lose their racing licence.

All Photos Darren Heathwww.darrenheath.com

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1

The “team licencing” policy is similar to NASCAR’s rule on team licencing. Every crew member who arrives on pit lane must be licenced. In Nationwide (support) and Camping World (Pickup) Truck series, there is a hard limit on how many members may be on any trackside team. Every spotter, mechanic, engineer, fueler, tyre changer, tyre carrier, and jackman must be licenced and drug-tested. NASCAR will fine and suspend mechanics for pit violations, fighting on pit lane, and illegal parts on cars.

As for the driver licencing rules, this is similar to the NFL’s policy on player behaviour that has resulted in suspensions to numerous star players. NASCAR suspended a Truck Series driver for a drug arrest, and the Indy Racing League may face legal action if Shane Hmiel (banned by NASCAR for drug violations) attempts an Izod IndyCar race while under the NASCAR ban as FIA licences are required for some NASCAR and IRL races, and both are members of the ASN in the United States.

2

Regarding the FIA’s decision to introduce licenses for team personel: How do you think this ‘fit and proper person’ test will work and will it stand up in court, if challenged? Apart from excluding people which may have a criminal record, what other objective criteria could they use to judge whether someone is fit and proper?

3

hope I’m back home in india next October for the indian GP!!

4

I am disappointed that Bahrain will start the 2011 season. Its just not a well designed track to go racing. Yes the facilities are fantastic, but its hands down, one of the most boring races of the year.

I hope for future races, the FIA, Tilke and Co. will look at updating old classic tracks rather then building new bore-fests.

There were initial complaints about the modified A1 ring, but I thought it was fantastic and spectator friendly too.

I would be nice if one consideration on whether a circuit can hold a race, is that they need to fill the circuit seating for the race day by at least 90% to keep it. Its a shame seeing Turkey, Malaysia and China races to be some what sparsely populated on race day

5

I agree Chirs, I thought A1 ring was alright. Perhaps its because I am too young to remember the old Osteriech Ring but I thought it was far from the worst track.

However, there have been some catestrophic failures in modifying old tracks. Zandvoort, Kylami, Hockenheim…..

6

I think the licensing of top people in F1 is overdue, although with Flav having bernie as a supporter I wonder whether or not it will actually stop him coming in.

I can understand the decision on Ferrari (although I still dont agree what they did was right personally) as Team Orders have been part of the fabric of the sport.

On the extended calendar, from an entirely personal point of view I will be delighted to have more GPs and more race weekends that I can go to and watch.

Although what I would like to see is some tracks with character. How many times do we hear about the new tracks, this corner looks a little like x corner from one of the great tracks. Lets have some originality back in F1 and some different track designers.

I have nothing against Herman Tilke, but he inevitably turns out similar designs time after time.

James, 2 questions

Track design > Is Tilke on a retainer as resident F1 track designer (kind of like Poet Laureut)

Extra Races > how did the news of you being away for additional weekends go in the Allen household?

7

Hi James,

I am from India and i am so very much excited about the Indian GP. F1 is growing in popularity big time here in India. I definately have plans of attending the Indian GP next year. I was wondering how much would be the cost of the Tickets here. Are Tickets available only for the Race or is it compulsarily for 3 Days ?

If we take 1$ = 46 Indian Rupees, then how much would you expect the Ticket Rates to be approximately ?

8

It could cost anything in all honesty. For 3 days we are about £150 – £200ish at Silverstone. However Silverstone is rather expensive. £150 equates to roughly 10,000 rupees I think.

9

Usually tickets are available on race day only as well as 3 day

10

Having a licence for team principals is too easy to get around.

Someone like Flavio could appoint a puppet and then control all the strings from behind the scenes.

11

Still wouldn’t be able access FIA controlled area ie race track so would have limited scope..

12

Is it just me or is having the Bahrain race as the first race of the season setting the build up of the grand prix season up for a fall?

That race was so bad when compared to the glorious season that followed.

13

Now, I drew over a map of the world just to see what routes the F1 Circus would be flying, and there is (rather obviously) terrible structure to the calender. I’m talking in regards to the pollution from transport that the sport considers one of the biggest environmental impacts.

Grand Prix should be grouped simply because of their geographical location. I mean, the are to a certain extent but flying to Canada from Europe and then back to Europe is a big waste.

My view is that the calender should look like this:

Australia

Singapore

Malaysia

China

Korea

Japan

India

Abu Dhabi

Bahrain

Turkey

Hungary

Germany

Italy

Belgium

Britain

Monaco

Spain

Europe (The downside to the calender)

Canada

Brazil

The way it is set up doesn’t factor in the time of year of the races, and the fact that Canada probably isn’t going to be nice in November, but at least pairing it up with Brazil to stop flying to and from the Americas twice.

The would also probably be problems with the contracts. Like “Abu Dhabi must hold a certain amount of final races” or whatever, but grouping them with Bahrain and Turkey would stop them from flying ridiculous lengths between GPs.

Wow that was long…

14

Liam

A good idea but you are forgetting, after races a fair amount of each team fly back to base (UK in most cases) and new parts are constantly being flown out to races. Your idea would certainly reduce mileage a bit but in terms of overall mileage it would not be much.

15

Very good point, I did forget about that.

16

Does anyone know if any circuits contracts are up at the end of next year, so they couls be replaced by the US? Or are most of contract lengths kept secret?

17

Test comment, please notify me if this gets through to moderator. Thanks

18

Why do Spain get 2 races a season?

When Scumacher was in his prime we got a extra race in Germany under the ‘European GP’ banner, then it went to Spain presumably because of Alonsos box office appeal at the time.

Those circumstances have changed now though with Britain having the last 2 WDC’s and 2 British that will be challaging for the WDC title in future years

If any European county is geting a ‘bonus’ or ‘extra’ home race than surley it should be Britain due to the reasons i have outlined?

19

james or anybody can you explain to me why in 2007 at monza alonso set a pole time of 1 min 21.9 for pole on his first run in q3 and he could have gone quicker still but he didnt have to as lewis didnt even beat him on the second run but last year despite slick tyres lewis only set a 1 min 24 flat. i thought that the slick tyres were better under braking and traction and that the new rules for 09 had less drag. i know that they had more revs in 07 and the kerbs were smaller but i cant understand were more than 2 seconds come from. also in the race in 07 alonso stopped on lap 20 but last year lewis stopped on lap 14 tho in 07 there was an early safety car

20

This is diabolical, it’s a total sham, so much for rules & regulation when teams can break them at will without punishment.. FIA – Ferrari International Assistance…. too bloody right, if I was a punter who’d bet on Massa winning that race, I’d be taking legal action myself against Ferrari, Burnie, The FIA & anyone else involved in that fix-up of a race…. I’m disgusted at the outcome of this WPSC meeting, how is this suppose to help the sport when Ferrari get away with total disregard to the rules…. shambolic!!!

21

James,

You talk about CVC using F1’s profits to service its massive debts, do you know if this means that ticket prices are likely to rise again as a result of this?

Personally I think it leaves a bad taste in the mouth that they take half of the sports profits every year without seemingly giving anything back to the sport. Its the fans who end up being squeezed the most

22

Ticket prices are in relation to the sanctioning fee

23

Do you have any info on whether sanctioning fees are likely to rise as new countries pay higher and higher fees to hold races?

Its just that ticket prices are really starting increase out of control for most F1 fans to keep up with in these difficult economic times

24

Ha this is true! I guess if people pay the prices, they will charge them. Just a worry when you hear Spa got less than 50,000.00 on raceday this year and are struggling financially. Seems they are stuck between a rock and a hard place with the fees they have to pay like many other tracks that have fallen down the wayside

25

They did that years ago, didn’t they?

26

The licensing of team personnel is strange and in my opinion unnecessary. If you’re caught with your hand in the till usually people in the same business know about it and the way F1 is reported on these days, everyone would know about it! I worry that comments and views will become watered down, rehearsed, corporate prattle instead of the frank and open interviews we see from some top characters in the pit lane.

27

The problem is the teams are prepared to employ these people again, if they’re good enough what they’ve done in the past won’t stop one of the teams on the grid employing them.

28

I agree to a point, but then take the case of Nelson Piquet Jr. A virtual pariah in the pit lane now.

Ok, so he’s a driver and we’re talking about team personnel. Then take the example of the other two involved.

First Flavio. He won’t get another gig in the sport, not because he doesn’t want it, but because his image is forever tainted and sponsors don’t pay the vast sums they do to be associated with cheaters.

Symonds will probably return, but (please someone correct me if I’m wrong) isn’t he free to do so already? Again, he’s tainted goods.

Nigel Stepney has returned to employment within motorsport, but not in F1 and I doubt he will ever again.

29

Brilliant, so the future of F1 Championships is to be decided by Policemen with Radar traps and various Sporting and National allegiances ?

Let he who is without sin cast the first stone, etc.

30

Well it does seem to be a wee bit hypocritical if you are sponsoring one of the worlds largest international road safety campaigns and your participants are running around like jackasses in the carpark during a race weekend. Most sports teams or employers have some clause or another like this, becausethe majority of people actually financing the opperation don’t have such a youthful disrespect of the law and personal safety… I’m going to hazard a guess that your average non-Hamilton fan is not so bothered by this

31

Glad to see Interlagos as a season ending event. Although we never know when the chapionship is decided, it is a good decision. Full grandstands with passionate fans and the circuit is exciting too, not too neat(bumps), there are fast corners, good overtaking spots etc.

Abu Dhabi was designed for overtaking in mind, but the whole event gives a stadium motocross feeling to me. Artificial lightening, cold concrete, no traditions, smells like money to me. Perhaps they should set cameras differently or sth, but still, you cant buy atmosphere. It is too sterile.

Usually Japan was one of these great season ending races, now it is placed in a less decisive position.

32

Not sure if you’re interested James, but I was recently surprised to find the Epsilon Euskadi headquarters featured on an architecture blog I frequent. I can only imagine that a lack of Formula One level funding was the only reason for them not being named a 13th team today, as their facilities are quite impressive:

http://www.archdaily.com/51210/epsilon-euskadi-acxt/?f=selected

33

There is an irony that, if Epsilon’s wind tunnel is full-size, it is now larger than is allowed to be used under F1 rules!

http://www.epsiloneuskadi.com/epsilon/menu.aspx?IdSeccionPublica=1&IdMenuPublico=27&language=2

34

Don’t think Brazil will remain as the final round – didn’t the provisional 2010 calendar have Brazil as the final race only for them to swap with Abu Dhabi? Bernie probably lets Interlagos and Abu Dhabi enter a bidding war to pay extra for the final race of the season tag (which Abu Dhabi will win 11 times out of 10!)

35

The notion that an unelected body in France controls world motorsport is a holdover from another era. The perils of this arrangement were made blindingly obvious by the tyranny of Mosley, and this latest nonsense of suspending racing drivers who fall afoul of the law while driving road cars strains credibility.

36

They’re not unelected. They are unelected by you and I, but then why should you and I have a vote?

37

They are elected by the motoring clubs from countries around the world, and not all of those clubs have elections. Many are led by appointees. Look, for example, at ACCUS:

“ACCUS is comprised of the seven major motorsports sanctioning organizations (known at the FIA as “member clubs”): Grand Am, IMSA, Indy Racing League, NASCAR, NHRA, SCCA and USAC, each nominating two directors to its Board. Additionally, a number of independent directors are elected annually. The World Karting Association (WKA) is an associate member.”

NASCAR, Grand Am, IMSA, IRL, USAC, and NHRA are, by no definition, democracies. Moreover, they have nothing at all to do with road safety. The connection is tenuous at best.

38

“For Ecclestone’s business partners CVC, adding race revenues are a vital way of increasing the income they require to service the $2.7 billion debt they have on the business.”

That may be true but let’s not forget that apart from servicing the debt, Bernie and his hangers on and many subsidiary companies all make a very nice living out of it.

Also I cannot see Bernie having a debt which could not be moved and re-financed at a very low current rate. I am pretty sure the debt is still there to perform a function.

39

Sadly not; the debt doesn’t perform any particular function. Instead, what CVC did was to buy the (profitable) company with borrowed money, then transfer the borrowing into the company; so, in effect, the company paid for itself to be bought!

What should, you would have thought, happen would be that CVC borrowed money to buy the company; if they default then the company lives on but is sold to somebody else. Instead, with this distortion of things, if CVC default then the company is wound up. Madness!

Lest it be said otherwise, I’m emphatically not against private equity; I’m just against this particular nonsense which turns healthy companies into basket cases for no benefit whatsoever.

40

Same as Man Utd, Liverpool FC etc

41

Isn’t this commonly referred to as Leveraged Buy Out (LBO)? The same that was all the rave in the 80’s? Happy to be corrected if I’m wrong.

42

The best bet for the long term future of the sport (instead of strategizing just to service debt), would be for the teams to create a partnership and buy a majority of the commercial rights. That way the competitors – those that actually invest in the sport day in and day out, actually plan for its future. CVC or some other investment vehicle can maintain a minority share. Obviously certain teams would end up with greater shares (the likes of Ferrari, McLaren, Mercedes, etc.) but all competitors would have a ownership and voting stake in the sport.

43

I do hope you are right, James, about India. I’m getting very disheartened by all these new car parks being built and sparsely attended.

Long season as well… so much for cost cutting.

44

India is a wonderful country and as I said, sports mad!

45

As an Indian i m quite happy to have Indian GP on the F1 calender. moreover F1 is getting quite popular here. I m sure many will turn out to make it a grand event.

46

According to the Brazilian press, the verdict was already released and, as expected, Ferrari was not punished, so both drivers and the team keep the same points as before. Some days ago, I read another interview with Domenicali saying that “if FIA do this or that, Ferrari may look for new challenges, and it would be a great loss to F1 since there is no F1 without Ferrari”. I am honestly starting to think that that would be, actually, a great idea. I can’t stand the Ferrari team anymore, although I used to support them not so long ago. I can’t stand their hypocrisy, and though almost all the F1 teams had taken bad decisions in the past, none of them can be compared to Ferrari.

47

“The FIA is serious about its ‘Make Roads Safer’ campaign…”

Is this the same campaign that is fronted by one M. Schumacher…

…the same M.Schumacher who decided that pushing a Williams into a concrete wall at 180 mph is a safe racing manouvre.

I feel the FIA needs to put its house in order, before slapping the drivers’ wrists for dicking about off the track…

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