Some thoughts on latest FIA decisions – Calendar, engines, stewards

The World Motor Sport Council met in Paris yesterday and came up with three significant decisions.

1) The 2009 Calendar

I made a post on the latest version of the calendar yesterday (click here). FIA hasn’t commented much on the new calendar. They simply took advantage of the French GP dropping out, moved China to April, kept the summer break and shortened the season by 2 weeks. No mention at all about the Canadian GP. Now I am not sure if this is a good sign or not. The talks between Montreal officials and Bernie Ecclestone took place about 2 weeks ago, there was some sort deadline for some decisions to be made set for the Friday before Brazilian GP. We haven’t heard anything from Canada neither we had from Bernie. All we get is the 3rd version of 2009 calendar. So does it mean this version is finally the final one and we can forget about any North American Formula One race next year or are the talks still going on behind the scenes making further changes to calendar possible ? I would like to start making some plans for Formula 1 travels for next year and knowing which final calendar is really final would be very helpful …

2) Three race engines

Mercedes Benz Formula 1 Engine FO108V

Mercedes Benz Formula 1 Engine FO108V

It is getting a bit confusing with the engine situation. Max Mosley has his ideas, then FOTA and FIA have “a constructive meeting” hoping to stop Max Mosley going in stupid direction, then FOTA receives a slap in the face from Max Mosley when he decides to go ahead with the standard engine tender anyway and then … one of the FOTA ideas gets implemented. Having one engine lasting for 3 races should save money to all the teams, that is the idea. One of the implications however will be that all the current engines will have to be opened up for development as there is no way that an engine built for 2 races will last 3 … So a window of opportunity for all engine makers to spend and gain some advantage on the others over the winter. How does FIA plan to police this ?

3) Stewarding arrangements

This is the most significant outcome of the WMSC meeting in my opinion. In other words, FIA just admitted that what has been happening in the course of at least last season was not right. I do not mean the decisions themselves, no matter how controversial they were, but the manner in which the decisions were made and explained to the public. On the other hand this also shows that there is a hope. It looks like FIA people sometimes do listen ! Here is what they came up with:

The current panel of stewards consists of two international stewards and one national steward, all of whom must be eligible for the FIA’s super licence. For 2009, the following updates will be made:- Any national steward participating who is officiating for the first time will be required to ‘observe’ a minimum of one Grand Prix prior to their event.- At five Grands Prix in 2009, a number of trainee Stewards, nominated by their ASN and selected by the FIA, will be invited to attend.- Before each Grand Prix, a short CV of each steward will be posted on the FIA website.

- With the benefit of a new replay system available to the stewards, all incidents will be investigated and appropriate action taken during the race, unless it is essential to seek further evidence afterwards.

- Following the race, a short written explanation of steward’s decisions will be published on the FIA website. This will supplement the formal steward’s decision which largely defines the breach of the rules.

- Where appropriate, additional film evidence that the public may not have seen but which was reviewed by the stewards, will be made available on both the FIA and FOM websites.

Note: No former driver is excluded from seeking their ASN national stewarding licence and then, as with all of the existing stewards, if they gain the necessary level of experience in stewarding events at a national, regional and international level the FIA can consider them for a steward’s super licence.

Let me see – no more green rookie stewards, CV of each steward made public before each race, incidents investigated and decisions made during the race, explanations given, video evidence provided … Many of these things were called for by media, bloggers and fans alike. All these would have sound like work of science fiction only few weeks ago. Sounds a bit too good to be true, but we have seen already that it can be done. Following the Japanese GP controversies the official Formula 1 site published additional video footage of the controversial moments without any commentary, a surprise move from in the right direction from FOM that for once received rare positive feedback from the fans … Jury is out, let’s see how will the reality look next year.

4 Comments Post a Comment
  1. zblkhwkNo Gravatar says:

    I don’t get how making an engine last for two, and now three races saves money. The vast majority of the cost of an engine is engineering, development and testing. If they want to save money, stop changing the rules forcing teams to redesign engines every year.

    It has to be harder to design an engine that will last three races, then one that lasts one.

    The problem with the stewards is not the stewards solely, its the stupid rules. Someone forgot that racing is racing, and accidents happen. Everytime someone cuts someone off, stewards have decide if is fair. No wonder there is little passing in F1, you can’t risk a pass and get a penalty. Let them race, set clear rules regarding pulling out of pits and clear distances between cars (1/2 car or drive thru penalty perhaps), keep the pit lanes open. We have a saying here in America, “Racing is Rubbing”, meaning cars are going to push each other when they race. Let ‘em Rub! And let the teams race as teams, Team Rules should be allowed!

    • F1WolfNo Gravatar says:

      well the engines lasting more races should in theory save money, especially while the engine development freeze is in place. with all the development done there should not be much going into that area. with 17 races on calendar it will take 6 engines per car per season, this season it was 9 engines per car per season, if there was an engine per weekend it would be 17-18 engines per season

      of course they use more with all the retirements, jokers, the fresh engines used for testing and Friday practice etc etc. teams also keep spending money on the “allowed relaibity related improvements” of the engines. now with extended life they will need to redesign the engines to make them last longer. of course it can be done, but it will not happen free of charge by putting the existing engine into 2009 car and asking it nicely to last about 600 km more :-) .

      the manufacturers are in my opinion unlikely to save too much but the customers like Force India, Toro Rosso, Williams, Red Bull probably should. we will see. anything is better than the standard engine idea

  2. zblkhwkNo Gravatar says:

    I really do not understand how having to design an engine to last more races saves money. I understand that using less engines means less material and manufacturing time, but I have to believe that the time spent on developing that engine far outweighs the cost of an additional 4 engines per year.

    I also refuse to believe that anyone stopped developing their engines. Speed TV estimated that the cars were 2 seconds faster at the end of last season, than at the start. They did not get those two seconds without engine modifications.

    I also do not think they can save money in this sport without regulating actual expenditures. The big teams, most notably Ferrari, are going to spend massive amounts of money regardless of how many engines they can use and “freezing development”. They all find ways to develop their cars.

    • F1WolfNo Gravatar says:

      some teams, like Renault, did not nothing with engines, or pretty much nothing, and felt behind in horsepower. some, like for example Ferrari or Mercedes took advantage of the allowed modifications (there are some for example when it comes to reliability) and gained some horsepowers. some estimate about 20bhp gain.

      I believe than in long tern the switch from 2 to 3 race engine would save money. Unfortunatelly however, these engines will not be here for the longterm as there is talk of new engines from 2010 or 2011 onwards. so there may not be much saving for the manufacturers. the customers however may save up if the manufacturers keep same or similar unit prices for them and they would buy less pieces.

      but whether there is or s not any saving we would not know unless someone publishes the actual figures. this all may be just part of the poker game between Mosley and the teams. Mosley threatens satndard engines, manufacturers don’t want them but have to come up with something that at least on the face of it is a cost saving measure …

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