I was reading an article over at Autosport this morning and when I completed it, there was a feeling of confusion as to the new structure of Formula 1. The overarching question I had with regards to the article was, “Where is Jean Todt and the FIA in all of this”?
The article quotes F1’s Ross Brawn regarding the new engine regulations and how the sport is at a critical crossroads at the moment. The cost of F1, the engines, the customer teams, the manufacturers. All of this has reached critical mass.
Brawn says that there needs to be more competition and more financial controls to reduce spending.
“We want a proper meritocracy, we want the best teams to win in F1,” Brawn said.
“But when they have an off day we want to guy in the middle of the pack coming through and winning a race.
“That’s a great story, that’s a great thing for the sport, and we want to encourage that.
“And we want the middle field team who gets a great driver one year, suddenly they’re winning races, and telling a big story.
“F1 is at a crossroads at the moment. For many years there was no structure to develop the sporting, technical and financial framework that the sport was run with.
“It was the teams themselves that were trying to make the rules up, and as the competitors, they weren’t the best people to do that. We now have an organisation, a structure.
“I have engineers, I have technicians, I have financial strategists who are looking at the business of F1 to find better solutions, to improve the sustainability and to improve the competitiveness of all the teams, so that we have much better racing.
“That’s what brought me back into F1, the opportunity to do that.
“And I’m very optimistic. We’ve had a very good response from the teams, and over the next few months we’ll be introducing the ideas we’ve got, and working with the teams to refine them, and they’ll be coming in the next few years.”
I don’t disagree with anything Ross is saying here in particular. I think some of it will be very difficult to achieve but what I find most interesting is that Ross and his team, whether true or simply perceived, have come in to the sport and literally shoved the FIA out of the way. The owners of F1 do not make the technical and sporting regulations and yet Ross has an entire team of engineers working on those very things.
Perhaps I am not reading enough in to this and there is a possibility that the FIA are happy to let Chase and Ross spend the money coming up with the best ideas and peddling around the paddock getting all the teams on board. Then, bringing the final concept to the FIA for consideration. If that is the thinking and reason Jean Todt has been a quiet as a church mouse over all of these discussions, then it makes sense and it’s a thrifty move.
Reality is, the FIA may not have enough resources to do all of the things that need to be done including getting buy-in from all the teams politically. Letting Brawn and team do all the heavy lifting for new technical and sporting regulations may be the path of least resistance. In the end, however, there is a contract and the FIA are the authors of the technical and sporting regulations.
Brawn and the teams can dream up whatever they like but it is the FIA that has the final ratification. Now, that’s not to say that the FIA won’t go along. They most certainly did when Mercedes and Renault wanted to move forward the hybrid power unit and in the end, that wasn’t a great move from a competitive standpoint. Technically it was an impressive move but it swung the pendulum away from racing and competition and toward engineering and R&D lab testing for manufacturers.
Now Brawn wants to find parity amongst competitors and cost caps to reduce the expense of F1 and all of that is a noble charter for sure. He’s right, F1 is at a crossroads and 2020 is the year to mark on your calendars as a very critical moment. Leading up to 2020 will be lots of politically charged meetings and jockeying for position. The power in F1 is attempting to shift and no one likes losing power and control in this sport.
Hat Tip: Autosport