FIA Presidency

Jean Todt won the FIA Presidential Election.

I don’t like him. I don’t trust him. He made many fans’ lives a misery for years at Ferrari with his sniping and bending of the rules.

It sucks that a) he had the better ideas and manifesto, and b) won.
Such a shame Vatanen came over as just a bit too clueless.

We’ll wait and see if this new era brings us the promised changes or if he’ll ‘forget’. His first act appears to be to make Michael Schumacher his F1 Commissioner. I have no idea how true that is. Let’s hope not at all.

On the plus side… he’s gotta be better than Max.

FIA Release Audio of Renault/Piquet Hearing

In a first for the FIA in this new post-McLaren penalty transparency, they have released an audio recording of the World Motorsport Council meeting in which Nelson Piquet Jr and the Renault F1 team were called to answer charges of race-fixing.

You can listen to the near 77-minute hearing and the 7 minute conclusions, as well as read the 91-page dossier of evidence and the 20-page WSMC decision, on the following link:

http://fia.com/en-GB/mediacentre/pressreleases/wmsc/2009/Pages/wmsc_220909_docs.aspx

The Passing of Henry Surtees

I am sure readers of this blog will know by now that Henry Surtees died yesterday from injuries sustained during a Formula 2 race at Brands Hatch, he was 18.

Will Buxton reminds us of Mario Andretti’s words upon the death of his Lotus team-mate Ronnie Peterson in an accident at Monza.
“Unfortunately, motor racing is also this.”

Despite all of the great strides forward in motor racing safety over the last thirty or more years, it unfortunately remains the case.

These cars are compliant to 2005 F1 safety regulations, including wheel tethers. No doubt there will be an investigation, hopefully the cause of the apparent tether failure will be found and rectified. I have now seen footage of the incident. That wheel should not have come off.

As for the wheel assembly striking the car, this was nothing more than a freak accident and there is no way anybody can legislate for that, freak accidents will always happen.

The driver is as safely cocooned within the bodyshell as is possible without enclosing him – some are suggesting the latter should be the next move, but in my opinion this would bring about other problems, such as extrication from the car in an emergency. Given the very low number of times an accident such as this happens it would seem counterproductive to run closed-top formula cars.

Henry Surtees

Anybody who attended a BTCC meeting in recent times and stayed trackside for the support series will have seen Henry Surtees race, even if they didn’t realise it at the time. He competed in Formula BMW in 2007 and Formula Renault in 2008, both on the BTCC support package. (Ginetta Juniors was not yet on the package when he ran in it, and FBMW has since merged to become pan-European). His name was known to most who follow the junior ladder in this country and perhaps further afield.

On a personal level, I was at a wet and windy Silverstone last year when he took a podium finish in the afternoon race. I don’t recall much of the race apart from a few spinners and a driver who lost a wing and kept driving (not Surtees), and I didn’t watch him specifically though I was very much aware he was there and I remember being pleased that he scored a good result because it confirmed he was more than just a ‘name’ driver, more than just the son of someone famous.

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It should be noted that Sunday also saw the death of co-driver Flavio Guglielmini on the Rally Bulgaria, while driver Brain Lavio is in a ‘stable’ condition. Rally Bulgaria has been on the FIA European Rally Championship schedule for 20 years and this year was a Candidate Rally for the 2010 WRC, for which a decision will be made in September.

Also on this dark weekend, Ricardo Londono was shot and killed in Colombia. Londono was entered for the Brazilian GP some 28 years ago but was not able to qualify despite reportedly setting some good times earlier that week.

My thoughts go to the families and friends of each of them.

The War Ends Before It Begins

24 hours ago Max Mosely and Luca di Montezemelo were sat discussing the FIA/FOTA fiasco, with Bernie Ecclestone also present presumably as moderator as well as looking after his own interests. The trio reportedly discussed the issues for most of the night in order to strike a deal before Wednesday’s crucial FIA World Motorsport Council (WSMC) meeting, in which frankly anything could have happened.

Thankfully the time pressure of the deadline meant common sense broke out and the following agreements were announced:

– There will be no FOTA breakaway, instead they will report back tomorrow with cost-reduction proposals.
– Budgets are to be reduced to “early 1990s levels” within two years. Curiously the method for achieving this was not stated so the budget cap may not be the answer.
– The 1998 Concorde Agreement, which determines the distribution of revenues, methods for agreeing regulations, and more, has been amended and extended to 2012. This means all teams are committed to that date.
– There will be 13 teams in the 2010-2012 Formula One World Championship, this is the list per the press release:

SCUDERIA FERRARI MARLBORO
VODAFONE McLAREN MERCEDES
BMW SAUBER F1 TEAM
RENAULT F1 TEAM
PANASONIC TOYOTA RACING
SCUDERIA TORO ROSSO
RED BULL RACING
AT&T WILLIAMS
FORCE INDIA F1 TEAM
BRAWN GP FORMULA ONE TEAM
CAMPOS META TEAM
MANOR GRAND PRIX
TEAM US F1

The latter three operations will use the cheap Cosworth engines, it is currently unclear if those will be under 2006 regulations since 2006 was the last year Cosworth competed (as a nod to cost-saving). If so this would give them a 2000rpm advantage over the other teams, and not have to run to the multi-race engine rules. While this is clearly unfair, it could be the new teams’ chassis will be so far behind the established teams, for the first couple of years anyway, that it all balances out nicely – should the new teams catch up, they can expect these breaks to be lifted.

You can read the FIA press release on their own website.

* * * *

Within the press release were some other nuggets relating to other FIA series.

World Rally

– The new 1.6 litre turbo engine will be brought in ahead of schedule in 2011.
– Events can now be more flexible. Instead of running to a set 3-day timetable, they may run 2, 3 or 4 days as long as it finishes on a Saturday or Sunday. They may include different surfaces.
– The 2010 calendar is out and you can see it in the link. Looks like the move to a winter championship schedule has been quietly dropped.

World Touring

– Yokohama is the sole supplier for the next three years.
Autosport reported the 1.6 litre engine will be used in WTCC in 2011 as well, and that it’ll be a spec engine, but the release doesn’t mention this.
– The 2010 calendar is out, check it out in the link. Algarve and Zolder are in. Pau is out. Valencia and Imola move around, assuming Imola is the Italian round.

I find the whole idea of the top rally and touring car series running 1.6 litre engines to be laughable. At least the rally cars will be turbocharged.

World GT

– Stephane Ratel’s plan to expand FIA GT into a new FIA GT1 World Championship has been authorised. GT2 will split into a new European series of its own races, many of which will run on GT1 weekends alongside GT3 and GT4.
– GT1 will be for pro drivers, GT2 for pro-am, and GT3 for non-professionals.
– The Bucharest street race next year is out, instead they’ll go to Budapest (I’m assuming this means the Hungaroring).

It seems like a good idea and I really hope it works for them, despite my reservations at losing the element of class traffic from sportscar racing.