Are FOTA off their rocker?

I was originally quite pleased when I heard earlier this year that the Formula 1 teams had finally decided to put their differences aside and join together as the Formula One Teams Association. At last, someone with teeth who can stand up the Max Mosley and the FIA.

That’s all well and good if FOTA turns out to be half-decent and come up with good solutions. Unfortunately, the signs are now that the teams’ ideas for the future of Formula 1 are every bit as barmy as Mad Max’s.

Take a paragraph buried in Pitpass’s story on Luca di Montezemolo’s whines about the Singapore Grand Prix earlier this week. As it happens, I kind of agree with most of what di Montezemolo had to say, although that is for a different post. But as though the shock of agreeing with the execrable Ferrari President (who also happens to be President of FOTA) wasn’t enough, what Pitpass revealed about FOTA’s early ideas literally left me open-mouthed in shock and disillusionment.

We hear that at last week’s meeting a number of issues which could result in a seismic change to the sport were discussed, including standard transmissions, standard wheels, standard brakes and standard rear wings.

We hear there may even be a vote on whether F1 should have a weight handicap system!

Excuse me for swearing, but what the very fuck?! What is this pish? Standard transmissions, wheels, brakes and even aero? Why not go the whole hog and throw in standard drivers as well? We might as well pay to watch a glorified Scalextric race.

This is beginning to look like a complete stitch-up. I know the teams desperately want to cut costs, but this is just extreme. With practically spec cars, the only competition left in F1 will be over who has the biggest motorhome and the best catering.

Lest the powers-that-be forget, Formula 1 is supposed to be all about watching the best drivers in the best cars, and that means teams constantly innovating in as many areas as possible. F1 is supposed to be about technological excellence. FOTA’s plan sounds like a watered-down European version of IndyCar — and there is a reason why so few people watch those lorries tootling round the place.

If you want to watch a spec series, you can take your pick. There is GP2, A1GP (if they can ever get round to actually building the blasted cars), World Series by Renault and now even Max Mosley’s sorry Formula Two scheme. That is not to mention the literally countless spec series that operate lower down the chain.

If even Formula 1 becomes a spec series with standard this, that and the other, what is left? Please. We have to have at least one motor racing category that is dedicated to technological advancement. The world is already over-populated with spec series that there would simply be no point in F1 transforming into one.

I haven’t even gone into the weight handicap system. Needless to say, this would be a total disaster for F1. We want to see the best drivers and the best cars win. That is what sport is supposed to be about. Why should people be punished for being fast? What a load of nonsense. Remember, BTCC’s figures went off a cliff when they introduced their ludicrous ballast system. Why do they think we want to see fast cars going slowly? Keith skewers weight handicap systems here as well.

Meanwhile, Martin Whitmarsh has unveiled FOTA’s big plan for spicing up the Grand Prix weekend. But it doesn’t sound very spicy to me. Apparently, the biggest problem with Formula 1 is Fridays! Silly me for not noticing! And what is the great thing that is going to solve this ill? A mickey mouse time trial with a cash prize!

WTF?! First of all, Fridays are the one bit of F1 that are more-or-less perfect if you ask me. They are called practice sessions, I get to watch the cars practicing. For me, that is a win. There is a certain pleasure to be derived from watching F1 cars do their thing at high speed but without necessarily competing with one another.

Why does this — of all aspects of the F1 weekend — need to be tampered with? Why does there need to be competitive action on a Friday? As far as I’m concerned, Friday is for practicing. Competitive action is for a Sunday.

Don’t forget that no-one will watch anything if it happens on a Friday. People are at work. They’re doing other things. Remember the doomed experiment with spreading qualifying over two days. That was pretty hastily dropped because they realised that no-one could be bothered watching the Sunday morning session — and that was a Sunday, never mind a Friday!

As for having a cash prize, I mean please. This isn’t a game show — it’s Formula 1. Besides, do they really think fans will be that bothered to watch mega-rich drivers getting even richer? No thanks.

See more on this from Clive at F1 Insight, with whom I totally agree on this.

I think I preferred the chaos and deadlock of old over these hare-brained schemes of FOTA.


  1. Qualifying over two days was not a hasty experiment. It was standard practise for decades until Bernie decided to spice up qualifying and then Friday qualifying was dropped.

    Other than that I agree with pretty much everything you say. Whoever though up the idea of success ballast in anyform of racing should have all of the ballast ever used dropped on his head from a great height.

    Every blogger on the net seems to know that the reason Friday audiences are down is because the vast majority of the potential audience is at work.

    We all agree that F1 has many problems and we have all voiced them frequently but I can never remember anyone ever suggesting that any change at all was needed to Fridays.

  2. I think Doctorvee meant the most recent attempt at two-day qualifying in 2003, rather than the two-day qualifying of the 80s and before (which was introduced for sporting fairness rather than the more recent attempt’s reason of “spicing up the show”). Sporting fairness is so far off the agenda of the powers-that-be that it is difficult to imagine them doing anything for that reason alone. Only if they could milk money or power from the act would it happen nowadays.