Back to school for the FIA

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At present, the FIA recruitment page is blank, though it appears there is a desperate need for someone to step up and take control of communications.

The number of ‘mis’ or incomplete communiques emanating from the Federation is simply embarrassing. This is not the result of one individual’s incompetence, but appears to be a cultural problem and a portion of the responsibility should also sit with the FIA legal department.

The 2015 Formula One year started with Ferrari exploiting a huge gaffe in the regulations. Each year, the manufacturers are required to lodge their final engine designs for the season, and the due date is the 28th February.

For 2015, most of the participants expected the routine to continue, until some bright spark in Maranello discovered the FIA had omitted the deadline date from legislative document.

The latest inaccurate dictat form the FIA relates to the agreement to allow Honda the same number of engines in their first year as the other three power unit manufacturers had in 2014. However, Honda is still I the dark as to what exactly they can and cannot do with the ‘extra’ engine they’ve been awarded.

Of course both Jenson and Fernando are on their fifth power unit already – one more than the regulations allowed – and they both suffered enormous grid drops and other penalties for this misdemeanour at the Austrian GP. One paddock ‘wag’ suggested the two McLaren drivers might as well begin that race somewhere across the German border.

Honda confirmed yesterday, “We do not know the details of how we gain back the Austrian penalties etc. We have to confirm the details going forward, now that the FIA has made its decision.”

If this is a Honda attempt at sarcasm, this statement is not a bad effort. Clearly, Honda and McLaren will not be retrospectively re-classified in the result of the Austrian GP, however, Honda is making a fair point.

What if they deploy their sixth engine (which we now assume is the extra free of penalties engine) in Hungary? Could they fall foul of another ill-defined regulation?

Last week, the World Motor Sport Council ratified the FIA extra engine proposal, and stated: “The simplification of the power unit penalties, ensuring that the most a driver can be penalised is to be demoted to the rear of the grid – this will eliminate penalties during the race for these infractions.

“New power unit manufacturers to F1 will receive an extra power unit for each driver to use throughout Grands Prix for the season, bringing the total to five – one more than the existing power unit suppliers. This will be applied retrospectively to Honda. These changes to the sporting regulations will come into force with immediate effect.”

One would assume that Honda is allowed to give Jenson Button and Fernando Alonso brand new engines in Hungary, yet there is clearly a nervousness on Honda’s behalf over the FIA’s record on details.

So for example, can Honda upgrade the extra free engine with development tokens and claim this as their ‘extra’ engine? After all, the actual fifth engine was not upgraded when deployed in Austria.

Having been so heavily punished in Austria by the engine penalty regulations which have now been scrapped mid season, will Honda be allowed to elect which of their next engines is the ‘free’ of penalties engine?

If not, why not?

Then again, if so – why?

Someone at the FIA needs to get a grip on how communications are sourced, detailed and announced. The F1 School of bright ideas has driven a significant number of individuals into the ‘blue sky’ thinking, but the devil – as they say – is eventually in the detail and at present the lack of attention to detail from this global regulatory authority is just appalling.

As Charles Eames said, “The details are not the details. They make the design”.

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5 responses to “Back to school for the FIA

  1. Is that a picture of the hippo giving one of his lectures? Where do I sign up?

  2. hahahahahaha!! I have so come to expect this from the FIA. Every single idea they have is rendered pointless by their inability to correctly notate their intentions. Guess there are more important things in their budget than hiring a consultant or 2 to preread these things before they get voted on.

  3. FIA:s problems has lot more to do with its decision making than with its communication.

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