The FIA World Motorsport Council (WMSC) met this morning and we are bracing for the backlash that is already starting. The FIA have decided that the F1 driver who has the most wins in the 2009 season will assume the drivers championship mantle. The 10-8-6-5-4-3-2-1 points will still be paid as last year and will be applied to determining the constructors championship and will also be used to decide 2nd-22nd in the drivers standings. In the event there is a tie for most wins, then the driver points will break the tie.
Also, the WMSC decided that starting in 2010, there will be a voluntary budget cap of $42 million US dollars (30 million British pounds) per team. Teams who decide to compete under the budget cap will be allowed to use a more aerodynamically efficient underbody, moveable wings and an engine that is not restricted by rev limits or engine freeze regulations. Teams that choose not to operate under the budget cap will be subject to the current regulations which supposedly will remain stable until 2012. The intent of these regulations is to allow the budget capped teams to compete and possibly win against the non budget capped teams. Max Mosley seems pretty certain that these regulations will bring more teams into the sport as he has openly discussed today the possibility that the 24 car grid may be expanded as long as the FIA feels that track safety is at a suitable level.
The FIA did not instill a high sense of confidence in their ability to make the budget capped cars and the non budget capped cars competitive, only insuring us that “The FIA has the right to adjust elements of these freedoms to ensure that the cost-capped cars have neither an advantage nor a disadvantage when compared to cars running to the existing rules.”
As for FOTA’s initial response to these new regulations, lets just say they sound unconvinced. FOTA and Ferrari chairman Luca di Montezemolo said;
“With regard to the decisions taken today by the FIA World Council, FOTA would like to express its disappointment and concern at the fact that these have been taken in a unilateral manner.
“The framework of the regulations as defined by the FIA, to be applicable as from 2010, runs the risk of turning on its head the very essence of Formula 1 and the principles that make it one of the most popular and appealing sports.
“Given the timeframe and the way in which these modifications were decided upon, we feel it is necessary to study closely the new situation and to do everything, especially in these difficult times, to maintain a stable framework for the regulations without continuous upheaval, that can be perplexing and confusing for car manufacturers, teams, the public and sponsors.”
The words in Luca’s statement that we should pay attention to are “disappointment and concern”, “unilateral”, “stable framework” and “continuous upheaval”. One of the motivating factors that banded the teams together within the FOTA umbrella in the first place was their feeling that their concerns were not being represented by the FIA or by Formula One Management which has put them in a tenuous position. At once they must adhere to the continuously changing technical regulations put forth by the FIA while collecting revenue from FOM. And while the money coming from FOM has been increased in recent years, the teams are still spending exorbitant sums of money on adhering to the technical regulations and still have no say in where they will race, which is of great concern to the teams and their sponsors.
In an era when FOTA has managed great strides in unifying the teams under one common voice, the FIA has taken their first proposals and decided exactly the opposite in regards to the 2010 technical regulations for cost cutting and in regards to FOTA’s survey findings about the points system. While the FIA has claimed that FOTA’s cost cutting regulations for 2010 were not drastic enough and that FOTA had yet to put forward all of their technical proposals for the 2010 season causing difficulty for teams who need to start developing their 2010 cars now, the FIA has proposed radical new technical regulations with very little technical data to back them up.
Expect to hear more from FOTA and their membership as the week goes on. The FIA may be trying to reset the F1 championship with more cost effective teams, but the current teams have invested vast fortunes into developing their cars and their facilities. They will not give up their hard fought spoils of the high budget days of F1 so easily.