Today the World Motor Sport Council met to make its decisions and already F1’s bloggers and Twitter users have been voicing their opinions. Here are some of my more in-depth thoughts.
The points system for 2009 has been amended, and the result is a compromise between Bernie Ecclestone’s controversial ‘medals’ proposal and the current points system. Basically, the current 10-8-6-5-4-3-2-1 system will remain in tact, but the Drivers’ Championship will be awarded to the driver with the most wins.
I have long been in favour of a radical change to the points system, and I am quite receptive to a “medals-style” system. But many other fans were not so keen.
This compromise solution isn’t one that I have seen suggested before. But on the face of it, it seems like a fair enough compromise. I would still prefer a more radical change to the points system, rather than having the championship automatically going to the driver who has had the most wins. But this could have been much, much worse.
From now on, teams will be allowed three young driver training tests between the end of the championship and the end of the year. I believe that such tests were unlimited before (correct me if I’m wrong). This represents yet another barrier to the young drivers that Max Mosley purports to be helping.
Straight-line testing is also facing further restrictions. Between 1 January 2009 and the end of the championship, teams will be allowed only eight days of straight-line or constant-radius testing. As pointed out by @sidepodcast on Twitter, this could leave McLaren in trouble given the amount of straight-line testing they have already done this year.
I’m not opposed to limits on straight-line testing. It seems fair to limit it just as other testing is restricted. However, applying this retrospectively does seem to be rather underhanded, and is especially unfair on those teams that took advantage of straight line testing a lot over the winter. Is it yet another FIA anti-McLaren conspiracy? Don those tin foil hats! Say what you like about Max and Bernie, but they sure know how to stir up a fuss!
Qualifying fuel loads
The weights of all cars after qualifying will now be published. This will give the geeks (like me) a lot of interesting data to analyse on a Saturday evening. But I’m not sure how this will improve the show. Personally, the suspense surrounding a driver’s fuel load is the only good thing about having race fuel loads during qualifying. I quite like not knowing when the leaders are going to take a pitstop.
People talk about F1’s script writers. Well now we will have a “spoiler” long before the race has even begun. This is a shame.
I assume this is a response to those who lament the fact that qualifying no longer shows who the fastest driver is. But the real solution to this would be to get rid of the ridiculous race fuel load idea altogether. It has never worked, and it adds nothing to the show.
Just a small one this. Wets are now officially “intermediates” and extreme wets are “wets”. This seems rather uncontroversial to me, because I normally refer to inters and extreme wets. Since inters became such good all-round wet weather tyres, this problem has existed, and it’s good that the FIA has tried to inject a rare bit of clarity into the regulations.
Drivers will now have to make themselves more available to sign autographs. And there will be no running away in a fug of embarrassment after a poor performances. All drivers must make themselves available to the media for interview after the race or after they have retired.
Senior team personnel will also have to make themselves available to TV crews. Fota had proposed a similar idea anyway, and it’s a good idea to ensure that the fans get more out of the sport.
Changes to the 2009 Technical Regulations
You what? Yes, apparently the FIA have changed the 2009 Technical Regulations, details of which will be published later today. Haven’t they left it a bit late?…
The batshit-crazy zone
Mind your step. This is where we enter the realms of nonsense. It wouldn’t be the FIA without a nice dose of nonsense, and they certainly haven’t disappointed this time round.
From 2010 onwards there will be a budget cap of £30 million per season. But it’s a voluntary budget cap. So to give teams an incentive to stick to the magic limit, the FIA will allow these teams to have more technical freedoms. Essentially, there will be not one but two sets of Technical Regulations. Maybe from 2010 onwards the sport will become known as “Formulae Ones”, “Two Formula Ones”, “Formula One.1 and Formula One.2”.
In all seriousness, I think this is a recipe for disaster. For one thing, the FIA reckons it will be able to work out when “the cost-capped cars have neither an advantage nor a disadvantage when compared to cars running to the existing rules.”
Now I don’t know about you, but I quite like the idea that in F1 some cars are better than others. It’s called competition. It’s what sport is made of. And too often motorsports go down the route of trying to equalise performance between the cars by restricting the best cars. Then that series goes down the pan (hello, BTCC). That’s because people watch motorsport for the competition between teams and drivers. The moment you try to neutralise that, you start to alienate the core audience.
Besides, it’s all very well to do what they do in Touring Cars and add extra ballast to race-winning cars. But it’s a different thing altogether to try and work out how to manipulate cars when they are being run to separate sets of regulations. The FIA can’t even create one decent set of unambiguous technical regulations, never mind two of them, and with the aim of having the two types of cars performing equally!
For me, this just stinks. The FIA would be able to penalise cars for very little good reason, other than something vague about equalising performance. Decisions would probably be made in smoke-filled rooms, obscured from the fans’ view.
Believe it or not, F1 just got even more political.