New qualifying, free tyres

The Formula 1 Commission met in London on Tuesday to discuss the matters of the moment in Formula 1 and decided on a number of new measures for the future. There was no vote of no confidence in FIA President Max Mosley and, in the recent F1 tradition, everything was "very positive". This is a good thing but does lead one to ask why there had not been a meeting of the commission for the last 15 months. The turnout was good with only Australia's race promoter Ron Walker missing. The 10 team owners all attended, along with seven promoters: Tamas Rohonyi (Brazil), Normand Legault (Canada), Masaru Unno (Japan), Rene Isoart (Monaco), Enrico Ferrari (Italy), Sebastian Salvado (Spain) and Hermann Tomcyzk (Germany). There were two sponsors representatives: Peter Harris (Vodafone) and Neil England (Gallaher); one engine representative (Bernard Ferguson of Cosworth) and a tyre representative (Hiroshi Yasukawa of Bridgestone). In addition Bernie Ecclestone and Max Mosley attended in their roles as Commercial Rights Holder and FIA President.

The commission looked at the question of qualifying and a majority voted to accept the new idea of three-phase qualifying with five cars dropping out after a first 15-minute session and another five after a second period. The remaining 10 cars would then fight for pole in a 20-minute final session. This means that tyres will be free with the only restriction being that drivers are restricted to 28 identical tyres for the weekend. This means that tyre stops will be introduced in 2006.

There was no discussion about the F1 calendar.

The commission then looked at the latest idea for regulations in 2008 and agreed that the new rear wing idea is a good idea and agreed in principle for this to be part of a package that will now go to the Technical Worling Group for further tinkering. This will include slick tyres, a single tyre supplier and the new rear wings.

The single tyre supplier is, inevitably, controversial and it is somewhat surprising that this went through although the team's voting is a complex thing which means that if six or more teams agree on something, the 12 votes which the teams control go towards the vote. If one assumes that next year's Bridgestone teams all voted for the idea there will have been five teams in favour of the idea. In such a situation the team vote is split in two and six votes go for the idea and six go against the idea. Our understanding is that the vote had 19 votes in favour from a possible total of 26, which means that half the team votes went against the idea and, presumably, Bridgestone abstained as it was not in a position to vote.

The plan is for the new rules package to be introduced in 2007, a year ahead of schedule.

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