‘Rules should not undervalue existing teams’

Date published: December 12 2017

FIA president Jean Todt has said the post-2020 regulations for Formula 1 should not be weighted in favour of attracting new engine suppliers and teams to the sport.

Potential new suppliers in the form of Ilmor, Aston Martin and Cosworth have all welcomed the initial blueprint for the future revealed by the Formula 1 owners, but Ferrari, Mercedes and Renault have all strongly criticised the framework.

And Todt, who is beginning a third and final term as FIA president after an unopposed election, is siding with those who are currently investing money into Formula 1.

“What I feel would be unfair would be to undervalue the existing engine suppliers involved, and listen to those who may think they will come,” Todt said via Motorsport.com.

“For me, it is important in light of the existing situation to see what will be the best evolution of the engine for the future, but by respecting the investments of those who have made the investments so far.”

Todt has never been the biggest fan of the current turbo hybrid engines but believes they should provide the foundation for the future rather than developing a whole new concept.

“Clearly if you ask me what I feel about the engine – it has been one interesting exercise,” he added. “I think it is too complicated.

“I think it is too expensive. But it is probably a very good first step to go to a next generation of engine, which will be one evolution from what we have now.

“I am against starting on a completely new development of engine but I think we should take what we have understood with this engine and allow the actual manufacturers who have been investing heavily to be able to enjoy what they have been investing for the next generation of engine, and also encourage newcomers to come.”

Todt officially re-elected for third term

Date published: December 8 2017

Jean Todt will continue in his role as FIA president for a third and final term, with official confirmation coming at the annual General Assembly in Paris.

Todt was completely unopposed in the election after the deadline passed with no new candidates emerging, meaning Todt will stay as president until 2021.

“It is gratifying to have such universal support,” said Todt. “I would like to thank all of the member clubs of the FIA for their support.”

“I see this as a validation of the direction the FIA has taken under my leadership, and as encouragement to continue the programme we have pursued over the past eight years.”

Todt has been a huge advocate of road safety since his tenure first started in 2009 and will oversee the implementation of the Halo cockpit safety device in Formula 1 next season – a move that has been widely criticised.

“From time to time there are some who challenge this role,” he added, “And I remind them that motor sport will always need a regulator, it will always need fair play, it will always require ethics, and it will always need an independent referee.”

“This is the vital role the FIA plays and one it will continue to play in the future.”

An FIA president can only serve for a maximum of three terms, so Todt will have to stand down at the end of this current four-year spell.

2018 calendar officially confirmed

Date published: December 7 2017

The FIA have officially announced the 2018 calendar after the World Motor Sport Council met for the final time this year in Paris.

The 2018 season gets underway at Albert Park in Australia on March 25 with the season finale once again in Abu Dhabi, this time falling on November 25.

Bahrain and China have swapped positions on the schedule, with the latter race weekend moved back to April 15 and to round three of 21 of the 2018 campaign.

France and Germany are both back on the calendar and the former marks the start of the first-ever triple-header in Formula 1 on June 24, followed by Austria (July 1) and the British Grand Prix (July 8), which will close out the first half of the 2018 season.

The United States Grand Prix is subject to confirmation by the national sporting authority, but there is not expected to be any issues.

2018 F1 calendar in full:

25 March: Australia

8 April: Bahrain

15 April: China

29 April: Azerbaijan

13 May: Spain

27 May: Monaco

10 June: Canada

24 June: France

1 July: Austria

8 July: Britain

22 July: Germany

29 July: Hungary

26 August: Belgium

2 September: Italy

16 September: Singapore

30 September: Russia

7 October: Japan

21 October: USA*

28 October: Mexico

11 November: Brazil

25 November: Abu Dhabi

*subject to confirmation

Engine penalty system tweaked for 2018

Date published: December 7 2017

A change to the much-maligned engine penalty system has been made ahead of the 2018 season in an attempt to make it easier for fans to understand grid positions for races.

The likes of Fernando Alonso and Stoffel Vandoorne were racking up monster 35-place grid penalties in 2017 after changing a variety of engine components. Mixed in with other penalties to other drivers, it would become a confusing task trying to work out the grid once qualifying was complete.

In a bid to counter that, as soon as a driver reaches 15 places in grid penalties, they will automatically go to the back of the grid. If another driver clocks up 15 places at the same weekend, they will ‘will be arranged at the back of the grid in the order in which the offences were committed’.

Drivers only three Internal Combustion Engines, MGU-Hs and Turbochargers, plus two Energy Stores, MGU-Ks and Control Electronics at their disposal next season before penalties come into effect for taking on new components.

The change was announced in conjunction with other minor adjustments to the regulations for 2018, such as:

– Regulations relating to procedures for starting or resuming a race behind the Safety Car
– Changing the event timetable to increase flexibility
– Ensuring that testing of previous cars may only take place on tracks currently holding an FIA Grade 1 or 1T licence
– Provision for demonstration events in previous cars which does not constitute testing. No such demonstrations may exceed 50km in length and only tyres manufactured specifically for this purpose by the appointed supplier may be used
– Changes to ensure that oil cannot be used as fuel
– Introduction of a detailed specification for oil
– A minimum weight and volume for energy storage (batteries)
– Changes to position of cameras and wing mirrors to accommodate the Halo

Brawn: No triple headers after 2018

Date published: December 4 2017

Ross Brawn is hoping to avoid any triple headers in the future, stating that 2018’s one and only is the result of the football World Cup.

Next season the Formula 1 teams will have the daunting task of racing in France, Austria and Britain one weekend after the other.

It is a packed schedule as the calendar has been extended to 21 races.

However, sporting boss Brawn says it is more to do with the World Cup than F1’s only schedule.

He told German broadcaster Sky: “The World Cup presented us with a very unusual problem.

“The final is in the afternoon and it would have been very unfair to have run a race on that weekend.

“We could only solve that by having three races in a row but it’s not something we want to repeat in the future.

“It was an emergency measure.”

Budkowski’s Renault arrival delayed to April

Date published: December 2 2017

Controversial Renault signing Marcin Budkowski will only join the team in April after his gardening leave from the FIA was doubled.

Renault angered their rivals when, earlier this year, they announced that FIA technical chief Budkowski would be joining them as their new executive director.

With just three months gardening leave between his old and new job, rivals were worried that he could pass on design secrets as he was responsible for liaising with teams to ensure the compliance of the cars.

To assuage those concerns, Renault and the FIA have agreed to double Budkowski’s gardening leave, meaning he will only join the team in April.

Renault F1 managing director Cyril Abiteboul told Autosport: “I will confirm exactly what is going on, and he will be in Enstone on April 1.”

The publication adds that Budkowski will be free to join Renault the weekend after the Australian Grand Prix.

Mercedes echo Ferrari’s F1 quit threat

Date published: November 29 2017

Mercedes boss Toto Wolff has said it is “conceivable” that the Silver Arrows could leave the sport alongside Ferrari if they see the direction of Formula 1 is not going to be in their interests.

Ferrari and Mercedes have both been critical of the engine blueprint for 2021, but Scuderia were the first to state – and not the for the first time – that they would leave the sport altogether if the regulation changes were too radical.

But now Mercedes have said they would also be ready to call it a day in Formula 1 if the FIA and FOM do not take their concerns into consideration.

“Such a scenario is quite conceivable. Just as it is for Ferrari,” said Wolff.

“Everything Marchionne says must be taken seriously.

“F1 must remain the pinnacle of technology and the best competition, and if you dilute this message with standard specifications and false situations that penalise the best and help the weakest, I think that’s not our DNA.

“If we do not see what Formula 1 stands for, then we have to ask ourselves the difficult question: not if but where do we want to operate in motor sport at the highest level?”

Wolff also questioned some of the gimmicks that has been introduced to Formula 1, namely the driver introductions at the United States Grand Prix.

“Doing erratic actions like Michael Buffer in Austin does not make the sport any better,” Wolff added to Germany’s Kronen Zeitung.

“We do not see any vision. Nobody knows where the journey is going. All we know now is that sales and profits have fallen sharply.”