Symonds: F1 needs independent regulator, teams too involved


Williams F1 technical boss, Pat Symonds, may not be that jazzed about how Haas F1 has entered Formula 1 as a team but he is also a guy who speaks his mind and while you may not have agreed with his concern over Haas’s constructor model, you may find that you agree with his concern over team involvement in F1 decision making:

“The way I explained this to some sponsors was that if this was football and you said: ‘Right, we need some new regulations – let’s ask the teams’. If you have a team with a really, really crap goalkeeper and you say ‘how wide should we make the goals?’, they will say, ‘Let’s make them [this narrow].’

“You’ve got another team with an ace goalkeeper, they’re going to say ‘well let’s make them this wide’. Teams aren’t the people to ask. You ask what Formula 1 should do; well ask Formula 1 what they’re going to do.

“If we had a solid direction, we, as the teams, would just follow it.”

The point here is that each team is going to guard its own interests and this leads to gridlock and stalls in making the kinds of changes that most know need to be made. Max Mosley said this many times and with Max and Bernie Ecclestone at the helm, they made decisions regardless of the threat of a manufacturer leaving the sport or not.

The FIA has seemingly changed under the rule of Jean Todt and his approach toward a democratic model in which everyone is involved and unanimous votes are needed to advance regulation changes is not something Symonds feels is working:

“There is not a real body that is looking at it, an independent body that is looking at what’s required,” he explained.

“But we shouldn’t just say that everything is wrong. This process of governance that we’ve had, while I’m saying we shouldn’t involve the teams so much, we have been doing it for, well, most of the time I’ve been involved in Formula 1.

“It’s not necessarily dreadful. But as the sport becomes more professional, you get more and more polarised opinions.

“There are some teams that have huge amounts of money, they want rules a certain way. There are other teams that barely exist, they want different rules. The stronger ones win.

“If you had someone who wasn’t batting for one team, you might get something better.”

The Motorsort article does point out an interesting thought in which Red Bull’s Christian Horner suggested the sport could use Ross Brawn as an independent to help lead F1 in the direction it should go.

If you consider some F1 pundits believing that Jean Todt should ultimately focus on what he really wants which is road safety and UN membership, the FIA should hire an F1 czar who runs the sport leaving Todt to the glad-handing he cherishes. Maybe Horner is right, Brawn might be a perfect fit for that.

Hat Tip: Motorsport

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BREAKING NEWS – Scientists discover that water is wet and are close to a breakthrough declaring that the sky is blue… Of course he’s right. It’s the same thing that Christian Horner and Bernie have been saying for the last year or two. But what is he going to do? Those who participate in these decisions have a responsibility to their team to make the decisions that best benefit their team over any other, and with that in mind, what representative will be willing to weaken the position of his team? Christian Horner has said many times that team reps… Read more »

Alianora La Canta

The FIA doesn’t have a good record of sensible ideas, sadly. DRS was its idea, as was the notion of restricting the tyre manufacturer to the point where it felt it had to demand blancmange tyres in response. The Strategy Group’s current structure was pretty much its idea too, as with the decision not to complain about Bahrain when its organisers broke the political/sport divide rules in 2012. Promising a number of things it should have reasonably known it could not deliver (including promising Manor it could run its 2014 car without bothering to speak to the other powers involved… Read more »

Paul KieferJr

How about the UN, then?

Tom Firth

Maybe we could call it CSI or FISA?

Paul KieferJr

….or “As the Stomach Turns”.

Junipero Mariano

When the industry you devoted your life to is begging for your return and you can very easily say “NNNNNope, I’m going fishing,” without any doubt or regret, that’s platinum status right there, friends.

Andreas Möller

I’ve said for quite some time now that Ross Brawn would be the perfect man to run F1, and I can’t say I disagree with Pat here :-) As good as Ross is/was at finding weak spots in the regulations and exploiting them for the benefit of his own team – if he’d redirect that into what’s good for the sport as a whole, it’d be fantastic. I agree completely with Pat that the teams will most often just look to their own interests, which is why (in a setting where all have to agree) nothing happens. Having the lunatics… Read more »


I think the technical regulations part is not F1’s biggest problem, so while an independent regulator could improve that, it wouldn’t resolve the financial structure of the ‘sport/ business’ which is where the real problems stem from.