Bernie and Jean Todt: Best of enemies
They say be careful what you wish for in life and Bernie’s not happy with a wish he made some time ago.
As a result of the side deal Ecclestone did with Red Bull Racing following their withdrawal from FOTA – and the small matter of a $40m payment from FOM to the FIA – the F1 Strategy Group (SG) was eventually born.
The SG replaced a number of FIA Sporting and Technical Groups and consists of 18 members – Ferrari, McLaren, Red Bull, Mercedes, Williams and the next highest team in the Constructors’ Championship, six FIA representatives and six FOM representatives.
Jean Todt heralded the new imminent new dawn for Formula One at the time as follows: “We can be proud of this agreement, which establishes a more effective framework for the governance of the FIA Formula One World Championship. The FIA looks forward to continuing to fulfil its historic role as the guarantor of both regulation and safety in F1 for many years to come.”
To get something done in the days before the SG, a 70% majority was required, however, when Todt explained the workings of the group prior to its inaugural meeting, he had this to say.
“The decisions will be based on majority and no longer 70 per cent. It will be a democratic and balanced organisation, which doesn’t exist now. So for the FIA it is a plus.
For me, it will be much more open to be able to change something. At the moment, with the way it is structured, you can never change anything.”
The reality was that the decisions for the year after next only require a majority, but to get anything meaningful done in the short term actually requires unanimity.
Christian Horner was also positive about the coming change of F1 governance: “The strategic group obviously is a group of teams, the FIA and FOM and it’s part of a process that’s been introduced. It’s a group that previously didn’t exist and it’s to try and make more headway and a speedier way forwards for forming and creating regulations”.
In just two short years, Mr. Horner appears to have changed his mind on the matter. In the summer he described the SG as ‘inept’ and called for an F1 commissioner such as Ross Brawn to be appointed.
Bernie Ecclestone is also unhappy with the dream that has become a nightmare. He told the New York Times this week, “We have allowed this to creep into things, which we should never have done. You can’t have sport governed by the competitors. No matter what the sport is.
You’ve got a bunch of people, with all different levels of incomes, budgets or whatever, all wanting to do the same thing, which is to win.
Whereas years ago, if we thought things were going wrong, we’d change them. And now, you have to get unanimous agreement to change things every two years. It just takes longer to try to explain to people what I think is right, and convince them if I am right. If I’m wrong, I’m the first person to back off and say I’m wrong.”
The F1 supremo lays the blame for all this firmly at the door of the FIA and Jean Todt.
“Jean and myself, if he would, we could say: ‘These are the rules, forget the teams, forget anybody. These are the rules, if you want to be in the world championship, these are the rules.’
But Jean doesn’t want to upset people. He wants everyone to be happy and everyone to agree.”
Having finally turned on Max Mosley during spanky-gate and suggested he should step down from his position as president of the FIA, Bernie has now seen the error of his ways.
“I suppose I regret we lost Max. It’s nothing wrong with Mr. Todt. Because in fairness he doesn’t do anything in Formula One, doesn’t interfere. So he’s not causing trouble.”
Jean Todt may feel as though he is being damned with faint praise, but he is not quite so intent on keeping everyone happy all the time. He has publicly stated on more than one occasion Ecclestone should stop criticising the FIA’s ‘project V6 power units’ – and calling for them to be ditched.
“If you have George Lucas or Luc Besson presenting a new movie, and they say ‘My movie is not good,’ it is not very clever,” observed the FIA president.
Still, for now – the blessed F1 Strategy Group trundles along- but dissent is rising.
This week Eric Boullier, fresh from the Horner school of philosophy, told crash.net he felt that Ecclestone should be dictating what happens: “The story is that the owner of the show must dictate what they want, nothing else.
“That is what it is for the show. You like it, you join, you enjoy. If you don’t like it, you go, nothing else.
However, having fallen foul of European competition legislation previously, Formula One had to be reformed and the approved structure meant that the regulator and the commercial rights owner of the sport must be separated.
This was duly done, but when the president of the FIA was an old mate – it was a lot easier for this Chinese wall to be breached by Ecclestone than it is now.
What we do know is there was a big F1 Strategy Group pow, pow this week – but little information of what was decided has come out so far.
Kimi did it all correct… but it happened to go wrong.
Poor Kimi. His failure to launch at Monza caused a collective sigh heard from all of Italy. It dropped him to last on the grid within seconds, and kept him from what many believed would have been a sure fire podium.
During the week following the Italian GP there was some Ferrari finger pointing going on.
First up was team boss, Maurizio Arrivabene. “…it looked like he [Kimi] was struggling, or messing a bit, with his finger to follow the procedure”. Arrivabene did though admit he had not yet seen the data yet.
Kimi was quick to state his case too. “As far I understand I did the correct thing, but we can see there’s a problem with the second clutch. It was not in the correct place. I’m pretty sure I put it correct as always. I don’t know.
Whatever it was it triggered the anti-stall and after a few seconds I was in last place. I’ve not had anything like this before.
Whatever the reason is we have to make sure we understand it correctly 100 per cent, and if we need to make changes we do the right things”.
The latest on Ferrari start-gate came last night in Singapore when Kimi explained what the Ferrari investigation discovered.
“I was still on the anti-stall and the reason why…for sure I did all correct, but the finger might have been for whatever reason on the second paddle in a bit wrong position for no apparent reason,” Raikkonen reveals.
“But the end result is the same. We obviously have to learn from that. It’s a shame. It was obviously a bit disappointing, as after 200 metres we were in the wrong place, it is not ideal but it happens. It is not like we need to do something differently. It is just more a small problem and a big end result from it”.
The new ‘manual’ starting procedure regulated by the FIA for the races since the summer break was apparently not a causal effect either. Raikkonen confirmed, “We have been doing the same things for a long time and it happened to go wrong this time. So, it is not like the new rules have changed anything. It could have happened last year or earlier this year. No real changes.”
Kimi knows the rules and the Maranello way… with Ferrari the problem is never the car.
Singapore haze troubles tourists
The haze from burning forest fires in Indonesia has been plaguing Singapore for nearly a week now. Last weekend readings of over 200 on the pollution index (PSI) was recorded. However, the range of pollution in the past twenty four hours has fallen to x-x
Singapore suffers annually from this transboundary smoke between August and October, mostly from un-regulated forestry clearing in nearby Sumatra.
Channel NewsAsia has been talking to visitors who were expecting to arrive in Singapore and find blue skies and tropical sunshine.
Mr Jason Officer, from Las Vegas arrived earlier in the week with his wife to celebrate their first wedding anniversary. He said he was disheartened by the haze that has plagued Singapore.
“We were expecting a feast for our eyes, but the weather turned out to be gloomy. We really wanted to go to the beach to suntan and dine at the top of Marina Bay Sands, but I guess we have to skip it because of the haze.”
The couple are hoping to be able to enjoy the F1 race but have admitted they’ve changed their plans to take in more ‘indoor’ activities.
Another tourist, 23-year-old Ada Dyke from Nigeria, who is visiting with her husband and two-year-old son, said she has experienced difficulties breathing and has caught the flu.
The PSI has become to climb again and is set to be in the ‘unhealthy’ range today during FP1 and FP2. “Unhealthy is defined by PSI scores of 101-199.
The advice for “unhealthy” air conditions from the Singapore environment agency is to reduce/minimise prolonged or strenuous outdoor physical exertion.
TJ13 has previously commented that the FIA report following the Bianchi accident recommended seasonal weather conditions be taken into account when agreeing the time of year for an F1 event.
For those who give credence to Murphy’s law – ‘If it can happen – it will’, there will one year be significant problems during the F1 weekend in Singapore. PSI scores of over 400 have been recorded in recent years. This kind of pollution is rated hazadous.
It would appear sensible to move the Singapore GP to outside the months of August-October given the annual recurring smog like conditions.