FEBRUARY 19, 2005
The trials of being FIA president
In the brave new world of Formula 1 lap times being slashed on the grounds of safety - and rules being pushed through at all costs, despite opposition - it really is not a great idea if the new rules, which cost the teams a lot of money, do not work. When Fernando Alonso lapped Barcelona on Friday in 1m13.971s he took his 2005 car to within two-tenths of the best time set last February by Takuma Sato in his BAR-Honda of 1m13.797s.
The lap times are not three seconds a lap slower than they were in 2004 - as they are supposed to be - and the people who have spent the money to build the cars have a right to ask why. They can blame the FIA if they wish but the federation would no doubt turn around and say that it is all the fault of the teams because the rules were dreamed up by the F1 engineers in the Technical Working Group. It is fair to say that both have failed to achieve the aim set with such force by FIA President Max Mosley.
This puts him in a very difficult position because having made such a fuss about safety he cannot now merely sit there and accept that the cars are as fast as they are. It is his duty (as he has often pointed out when justifying rule changes) to ensure that F1 and the FIA are protected in the event of a cataclysmic accident and cannot be seen to have ignored realities (such as minuted remarks by F1 engineers and lap times) which would give the sport's detractors weapons with which to attack F1 in that unhappy circumstance.
The problem is that changing things for this season is going to be nigh on impossible without upsetting Ferrari, his ally in current F1 politics, not to mention the tyre companies, by imposing a single tyre formula - which would be the only sensible way to bring down lap times in a hurry. But taking action now would be damned by all and sundry and highlight the fact that the rules as dictated are not sufficient. But not taking action will leave him open (and exposed) to criticism as well.
Makes you wonder why anyone would want to be the FIA president.
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