SEPTEMBER 29, 1997
F1 Commission - nothing major
THE FIA Formula 1 Commission met at the Nurburgring to discuss a number of issues for the 1998 season. The meeting threw out most of the proposals, including those for changing the weekend practice timetable. The FIA's ultimate aim is to reduce the Grands Prix meeting to two days, which will allow for more races. Although some promoters are opposed to this idea, the Friday would be used for support events and media events for drivers. Attempts to push through aggregate qualifying between the Friday and Saturday sessions have also been rejected.
The extra day of practice at new events has also been dropped, following Austria where teams ran on Thursday and then did not do a great deal on Friday. Bernie Ecclestone pointed this out and none of the teams were in a position to argue against the idea.
A proposal from the F1 engine companies for teams to be forced to use the same engine in qualifying and in the race was rejected immediately by the F1 Commission. The proposal has been under discussion for a year and only passed through the engine group by a very small margin.
The only real rule of any interest is the decision to restrict the number of different wet tires to just two, instead of the four or five compounds that Goodyear and Bridgestone are providing this season. We also believe that teams will be allowed to use all three cars for the whole of Saturday and not just during the qualifying session.
There was also considerable discussion over the electronic systems which are now being run by one of the top F1 teams and we understand that the FIA may look again at the software to see if this represents "a driver aid".
There was a great deal of discussion over the 1998 Formula 1 calendar. As we understand it there are currently 16 dates on the provisional calendar with Korea and South Africa not being included.
The dates we expect to be confirmed after the meeting of the FIA World Council on October 7 are as follows:
Australia (Melbourne) March 08
Brazil (Interlagos) March 29
Argentina (Buenos Aires) April 12
San Marino (Imola) April 26
Spain (Barcelona) May 10
Monaco May 24
Canada (Montreal) June 07
France (Magny-Cours) June 28
Great Britain (Silverstone) July 12
Austria (A1 Ring) July 26
Germany (Hockenheim) August 02
Hungary (Budapest) August 16
Belgium (Spa) August 30
Italy (Monza) September 13
Luxembourg (Nurburgring) September 27
Portugal (Estoril) October 11
Japan (Suzuka) October 24
There are problems with the Portuguese and French Grands Prix. Estoril has still to complete the rebuilding work which it has promised and final details of a commercial deal have not yet been finalized.
The biggest problems remain over the French GP although we believe this has been given a provisional date of June 28, which will limit the effect of the clash with the football World Cup, which is being held in France at the same period. The June╩28 date clashes with the matches for the last 16 teams in the competition.
Before the French race can go ahead, however, the French government has to sort out the problems of TV coverage of the event. This is an urgent issue as it also applies to coverage of the World Cup itself and we understand that the FIA will not put the race in the calendar until it has a written undertaking from the French government that the law will be changed before next year's race. It was interesting to note the presence of Jacques Toubon, former Justice Minister and now special advisor to President Jacques Chirac, in the paddock at the Nurburgring. Toubon is believed to have had talks with FIA President Max╩Mosley and Bernie Ecclestone about how the event can be saved.
Although it will not have any immediate effect, there may be major changes to the calendar in the future if the European╩Council╩of Ministers votes for a Pan-European ban on tobacco sponsorship in sport when it meets on October 4. The FIA is believed to be campaigning for motor racing to be excluded from such a ban.
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