SEPTEMBER 3, 2000
Teams get extra tires for Friday practice
THE Formula 1 teams gained very little from last week's meeting with FIA President Max Mosley at the Heathrow Airport Hilton. We hear that the meeting began with acrimonious exchanges between McLaren boss Ron Dennis and Mosley over suggestions that the FIA has been favoring Ferrari in the battle for the World Championship. Mosley vigorously defended the governing body.
There was then another lively exchange between Mosley and Benetton boss Flavio Briatore who complained about the way in which the World Championship is being run by the FIA, particularly in relation to the interpretation of the regulations. Mosley was not impressed and, knowing that the teams have virtually no power to threaten him, left them on the defensive for the discussions which followed.
The result of all this was that very little was achieved with regard to the Formula 1 rules and regulations - which had, ostensibly, been the purpose of the meeting.
The only positive thing to emerge was an agreement that drivers will be allowed to use an extra three sets of tires next year for practice on Friday. This should mean that teams will have more of an opportunity to set up their cars and not have to worry about using up their supply of tires which they want for the race and for qualifying. Mosley rejected calls for there to be an official qualifying session on Friday, saying that the FIA wants to reduce race meetings to two days. This is unrealistic given that race organizers and local authorities - who are paying for the races - want the meetings to go on as long as possible in order that local businesses can benefit from the visitors. It would, for example, be virtually impossible for Monaco hotels to demand seven night minimum stays (as they currently do) if the race meeting was held over only two days. This would greatly reduce the attraction of holding a race and so would ease the demand for races, which is not what Mosley wants to see happening.
It seems that the FIA President was using the argument to try to get the F1 teams to agree to a ban on testing at tracks which host a Grand Prix and an additional ban on all testing during the month of August. Mosley said he would be happy to keep three-day meetings if the teams would agree to these restrictions.
Before the meeting much was made of an apparent split between Mosley and F1 boss Bernie Ecclestone but in all probability the two were working together as usual. Both share the desire to curb testing and have a history of role-playing when it comes to negotiating with teams.
The teams may be unhappy that Mosley has been interfering in F1 in the course of the last 18 months but they have no power to do anything about it. Mosley is elected by the FIA General Assembly, which is made up of nearly 200 delegates from the FIA member clubs around the world. If the teams had a credible candidate to field against Mosley in the next FIA elections in October 2001 it might be a different matter. Mosley has yet to confirm that he is going to stand for a third term of office but it is unlikely that he will retire and there is no obvious successor at the moment. Even if there was a candidate Mosley has considerable support with the FIA as he has not only guaranteed the long-term funding of the governing body but has also done some impressive work in other areas of FIA interest, notably road safety.
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