A very positive meeting

The first meeting of the FIA's new sporting working group took place on Wednesday in Barcelona with the meeting involving Charlie Whiting and representatives from the various teams. According to our sources those present included Stefano Domenicali (Ferrari), Davey Ryan (McLaren), Richard Cregan (Toyota), Steve Nielsen (Renault), Tim Newton (Williams), Beat Zehnder (BMW Sauber), Ron Meadows (Honda), Jonathan Wheatley (Red Bull Racing), Andrew Stevenson (MF1), Mick Ainsley-Cowlishaw (Super Aguri), Massimo Rivola (Scuderia Toro Rosso) and David Lapworth of Prodrive.

According to the FIA Sporting regulations for 2008 this body is tasked with producing changes to the sporting regulations based on majority votes. If the question relates to the design of the car the majority will decide the matter if there is more than 18 months before the change takes effect and unanimous voting will be used in it is under 18 months. Thus decisions for 2008 must be made by June 30 this year.

With that in mind the delegates at the meeting were keen to get some rules sorted out quickly so that the new F1 Commission, which will soon be chosen by the World Motor Sport Council, will be able to accept the proposals in the time available.

There were a number of votes taken with the teams including a proposal to push back the date by which engines must be homologated to March 2007. This was voted through with only Ferrari and the two Red Bull teams voting against. A suggestion that the three year homologation of engines should be increased to five years was voted down by eight to four with Prodrive, Ferrari and the two Red Bull teams wanting the change but the others rejecting it.

The idea of having ballast as penalties rather than grid position penalities was also voted down by the same margin and everyone then agreed that standard ECUs should be used in testing as well as racing. At the end of the meeting, however, there was a big change when McLaren proposed that the idea of engine homologation be abolished completely. This was voted through with eight teams in favour and four against.

The process seems to have gone very well with teams showing much agreement than has been the case for many years. The proposals put forward will now go on to the F1 Commission but FIA President Max Mosley recently wrote to the manufacturers saying that the proposals of the Sporting Working Group would only be rejected by the F1 Commission and the World Council if that was in the "overall interests of the Formula 1 World Championship or of motor sport in general."

There is no reason to assume that the decisions made are worthy of change and it is a very positive sign that the new FIA system seems to be working as it was designed to do.

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