The Formula One Teams’ Association outlined today their proposals for the future of Formula One. FOTA are a new body, set up last year to collectively voice their concerns regarding Formula One in a unified and professional manner. Previously, it was nigh-on impossible to get the team chiefs to agree on anything, but with the apparent need to change, F1 bosses have united in their efforts. Today was their first real test.
After discussions between the ten principals, the following proposals have been made in order to sustain Formula One into the future, to make the sport in to more of a spectacle, and to appease those who insist on reducing costs and increasing competition. The results of FOTA’s global market research has helped the organisation put together their ideas, taking into account what we, the fans, would like to see happen to Formula One.
FOTA’s chairman, Luca di Montezemolo had the following say to the media at the press conference in Geneva.
This is an unprecedented moment in Formula One history. Above all else, for the first time the teams are unified and steadfast – with a clear, collective vision. Thanks to this unity, all the teams have already managed to make a significant reduction to their costs for 2009.
And, while we will continue to compete vigorously on track, we all share one common goal: to work together to improve Formula One by ensuring its stability, sustainability, substance and show for the benefit of our most important stakeholder, namely the consumer. It is with this mindset that we now intend to work hard, with our partners at the FIA and FOM, our shared goal being to optimise the future of Formula One. Luca di Montezemolo.
The proposals are split into three main groups; Technical, Sporting and Commercial, neatly summing up the three main areas of the sport. Much has been said about the technical side of the Formula One, with one of the sport’s most radical technical regulation shake ups in years being implemented for 2009. The sporting regulations have also been tweaked for this upcoming season, but fans clearly want to see more made of these to ensure a better race. And of course, the commercial side of Formula One has come under scrutiny recently, and this is something the team chiefs are keen to work on.
- More than 100% increase in mileage per engine (eight engines per driver per season)
- Reduction in wind tunnel and CFD usage
- Engine available at €8 million per team per season
- Engine available at €5 million per team per season
- Gearbox available at €1.5 million per team per season
- Standardised KERS (put out to tender, with a target price of €1-2 million per team per season)
- Target a further 50% reduction of the 2009 aerodynamic development spend
- Specified number of chassis, bodywork and aerodynamic development iterations (homologations) during the season
- Prohibition of a wide range of exotic, metallic and composite materials
- Standardised telemetry and radio systems
- Testing reduction (50%)
- New points-scoring system (12-9-7-5-4-3-2-1), to give greater differentiation/reward to grand prix winners
- Race starting fuel loads, tyre specifications and refuelling data to be made public
- Commitment to recommend new qualifying format
- Radical new points-scoring opportunities (eg, one constructors’ championship point to be awarded for the fastest race pit stop)
- Further testing reductions (four four-day single-car pre-season tests plus one single-car pre-season shakedown)
- Reduction of grand prix duration (250km or a maximum of one hour 40 minutes) pending the approval of the commercial rights holder
- Increased data provision for media
- Explore means by which the presentation of Formula One action can be more informatively and dynamically presented, common to other sports such as tennis and cricket, to dramatically improve engagement with the public
- Nominated senior team spokesman available for TV during grand prix
- Commitment to enhance consumer experience via team and FOTA websites
- Mandatory driver autograph sessions during grand prix weekends
- Commitment to enhance consumer experience via TV coverage
So What Does All That Mean
FOTA would like the engines last a lot longer and be available for less money. Already for 2009 this has been partly achieved, but in order to help reduce costs even further, it is proposed that engines be available for €5m per team per season. And along with the engine, it is suggested other components be standardised and/or subsidised. There has been a fair amount of talk regarding the KERS unit, and FOTA are also throwing gear boxes into the equation as well. A standardised telemetry and radio system has also been mooted, and previously there had been talk of opening up all radio communication to be broadcast.
Also proposed is a limit on development work being made to the cars, which would obviously save a lot of money. This would coincide with a reduction in physical testing as well, something that has already been banned during the racing season this year. With more standardised parts, this could be easier to achieve, but then we get into the standardisation argument which has divided fans, although my personal impression is that it is generally seen as bad, or not wanted, for the sport.
In terms of the actual event of racing and the championship, the points structure has come under question. Before 2003, the points awarded to the finishing drivers (or those classified as finishing) was 10-6-4-3-2-1, obviously going to the top-six. This was changed in 2003 to 10-8-6-5-4-3-2-1, the awards going to the top-eight.
Recently, Bernie Ecclestone opened his mouth and suggested a fairly radical change towards medals. Ecclestone wanted the constructors title to remain on a points basis, but in order to promote overtaking in the minds of the drivers, Bernie suggested the top-three be awarded medals. There has been a lively debate on this ever since, and again, my impression is that it is generally considered unnecessary. Particularly having two systems within one sport, albeit for different titles.
Notably, the FIA have said little on this other than to put off making a decision, citing the wait for market research to be compiled. FOTA have also chosen not to mention this in their proposals. Although it was probably discussed, it is thought the team chiefs are against the idea, despite Ecclestone suggesting the opposite a couple of months back.
FOTA are suggesting what many of you have said (or close to at any rate); to increase the gap between the first and second placed driver (to add emphasis to the win), but to keep it as a points system and to also keep the top-eight as scorers. Well done BlogF1 readers, common sense prevails. FOTA have suggested the following: 12-9-7-5-4-3-2-1. Personally speaking, I dislike odd numbers, but it is in my opinion, a lot better than medals.
For 2009, FOTA would like race fuel loads, tyre specifications and refuelling data to be made public. Currently, it is an unknown at the start of the race exactly who is on what fuel load, and therefore what strategy they are running which ultimately means that new fans are left a little confused. By announcing this information, it would be easier to assess the qualifying efforts of the drivers as well make following the race a little easier, particularly for newer fans.
However, this too divides the sport’s followers, and former ITV commentator and now blogger James Allen has voiced his enjoyment of not knowing exactly who is doing what at the start of the race. I can see both sides of the story and appreciate the differing opinions on this. Although I feel that a return to qualifying of ye olde combined with fewer restrictions on tyre usage might help reduce some of the complications. Again though, and like Allen’s, it’s just another opinion.
For 2010, FOTA would indeed like to see commitment to sorting out qualifying. I’d put it higher up the list, but then I would say that! The association would also like to see new points added to the grand prix weekend, with perhaps a point being awarded to the fastest pitstop, this being added to the constructors championship. From this we could also suggest a point for the fastest lap. I would imagine the FIA might be keen on this as it may help Ferrari’s Kimi Raikkonen towards the championship, the Finn taking the majority of fastest laps last year.
FOTA have also suggested that testing be reduced again, and also that the race length be reduced. Currently, the maximum time allowed for a grand prix is 2 hours. Races only ever have to be stopped due to this ruling in seriously adverse situations. Only once can I remember a race being cut short because of time, but FOTA have suggested a maximum of 1 hour 40 minutes. This would mean presumably that races get reduced in proportion to the maximum time. Currently, a grand prix lasts for about 200 minutes or so, and I cannot see what is wrong with leaving it like that.
In terms of the commercial side of the sport and making the spectacle more fan-friendly, FOTA would like to see a nominated spokesperson for each squad, available throughout the weekend to talk to the media. They would also like to see more information being made available, for better engagement with viewers, more to be done with the online side of the sport as well as mandatory autograph sessions at races.
All in all, FOTA’s recommendations aren’t too far away from what I as a fan feel the general consensus is. We would all like more information to be made available, many of us feel the points system could do with a little tinker, but nothing too radical, and we would all like the sport to be a little more open and friendly to those who keep it going.
Regarding the technical side, perhaps it is leaning towards standardisation, but it should be noted that only KERS was really mentioned. It is a feeling I have that Max Mosley may get his way on certain things, particularly if he is re-elected as FIA president in November. However, credit where it is due, FOTA have only presented KERS as being a potentially-standardised part. All other components were just mentioned in a cost anaysis perspective. FOTA’s unified presence may help dissuade any future FIA shake ups without first assessing them properly as well.
So this is what has been presented, and I’ve included a few of my own thoughts, feeling and opinions on various matters. Now it’s over to you. What do you think of all this? Agree, disagree? If it ain’t broke don’t fix it, or more still needs to be done? Unlike many other websites out there, BlogF1’s comments are open, so please have your say…
Image © HondaF1.