OCTOBER 15, 2004
What the FIA did not announce
The FIA World Motor Sport Council did not, on the face of it, announce very much after its meeting in Paris on Wednesday. There was the makings of a Formula 1 calendar (although this is certain to change before December) and that was about it, at least in relation to Grand Prix racing.
And that was decidedly odd, considering the political shenanigans that have been going on over the rules and regulations in recent months.
It is safe to assume that decisions were made with regard to the FIA's policy towards the planned changes in F1. Faced with the threat of arbitration, the World Council would have had to have discussed the opposition to the 2.4-litre V8 formula and the dearth of customer engines which could put two teams out of business. FIA President Max Mosley was busy at Suzuka talking to the engine companies trying to find solutions with restrictions for the V10 engines, notably two-race engines and regulations to bring down horsepower and costs without driving companies out of the sport. The results of those talks will have been reported back to the World Council.
In the circumstances it would make sense to see the FIA drop the V8 formula until the end of the Concorde Agreement, after which a change of engine formula cannot be challenged. That is three years away.
Having used safety as the main argument for the change of engines, the FIA must now act to be seen to make F1 safer and the obvious way to do that is to switch to a control tyre. This will make F1 slower, safer and cheaper. There may be commercial arrangements between team and the tyre companies but the idea that the federation cannot act because of such contracts is flawed. If tyre companies supply tyres and sponsor teams that is their problem if the rules are changed on the grounds of safety. The federation is completely justified in this case in acting against tyres on the grounds of safety because there is plenty of evidence that it was the tyre war which led to the reduction in lap times and it seems to more than a few unexplained high-speed blow-outs this year. There is nothing to stop Bridgestone still sponsoring Ferrari, even if the car is running on control tyres. The commercial arrangement does not have to be affected.
We expect that there will be further news from the World Council in the weeks ahead.
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