Tag Archives: Jean Todt

Korean GP will break rules even if it goes ahead

It has emerged today that even if the Korean Grand Prix event does go ahead this year, which is slightly doubtful to say the least, the FIA would be forced to break its own rules to allow it to do so. While the track organisers are releasing new photos of developed buildings, it still isn’t enough to quell the doubt of many F1 fans and the teams.

One of the new Korean GP buildings - just in time?

One of the new Korean GP buildings - just in time?

It has been accepted that if the venue fails to host a Grand Prix this year, it will be barred from doing so in 2011. To be honest, the chances of it going ahead this year are still doubtful. Karun Chandhok’s demonstration run in a Red Bull, scheduled to take place on the 4th-5th September in only a few days time, is in serious doubt, with a trusted source saying that an FIA official said that there was “no way” this could happen.

Even more worrying is the FIA’s Appendix O to the International Sporting Code, which states that the final inspection of the track must take place 90 days before the opening of the venue. With the race weekend beginning on Friday (possibly Thursday, depending on whether it is an official opening day or not), then the final inspection should have taken place on July 23rd.

Clearly, the track wasn’t developed back then, and FIA rules state that an inspection would be very stringent, and therefore the track couldn’t have passed it, even if it took place. The rule reads as follows:

"...Inspection all work relating to the track surface, permanent 
features and safety installations should be completed to the 
FIA’s satisfaction.”

An incomplete track surface can’t exactly be up to the FIA’s satisfaction can it? Never mind “permanent features and safety installations”, which wouldn’t seem to be in place either.

While all the officials and FIA heads will insist the race will go ahead, you can’t help but feel that they are delaying the inevitable. Bernie Ecclestone would never throw in the towel early, and is probably pushing the FIA to get this race done, but financial (and sporting) implications will be severe if the Korean GP is scrapped with days to go. Having said that, the organisers will still have to pay up if it doesn’t go ahead, so Bernie’s pocket is still covered.

It is understood that if the Korean GP fails to materialise, the job of handing out the punishments goes to the World Motor Sport Council and not Jean Todt. Either way, this isn’t the last we will hear of this story.

Todt in favour of 107% rule

Jean Todt

Jean Todt

The president of the FIA, Jean Todt, has said that he is in favour of the reinstation of the 107% rule. However, he stressed that such a rule change would not take place this year, and would be in place by a minimum of 2011.

This year, the three new teams of Lotus, Virgin and HRT have been well off the pace, HRT dangerously so, and this has prompted many people to ask for the old 107% rule back.

The 107% rule is where each driver muct be within 107% of the fastest lap set by the pole sitter. If they aren’t, they are unable to race. Generally, being within 107% of the fastest time means a few seconds or so behind, as it varies by circuit.  While this would be slightly difficult to implement in the current 3-tier qualifying system, it could be done.

Todt is one of the many people in favour of this old rule, saying:

"We are very in favour of reintroducing the 107 percent limit. The reason
 why it was abandoned was because of the change in qualifying which was 
happening with fuel to start the race in the car.

Now to change that for 2010 you need to have the unanimous agreement of 
the teams, and to get the unanimous agreement of the teams the FIA will 
be supporting this solution.

I don't think it will happen so we have to wait until 2011 to introduce 
it."

However, he stated that he was still in favour of having the new teams in F1:

"You must have respect for a new team who is arriving in this particular 
economic crisis period and to invest money to be in F1. I don't think it 
is a time to criticise but to support and help, and to help them, and it 
is in the interests of everybody.

Everybody in the business should be supportive of these days. I was 
impressed today, they did quite well and we must give them a certain 
time to be ready."

I would be mostly in favour of this. The one problem is that, by the time the 107% rule is renistated, the teams will have gotten up to speed, and within a few seconds of the leaders, making the rule mostly defunct.

USF1 offers compensation to miss season

USF1

USF1

The American racing channel Speed TV is reporting that USF1 gave offered the FIA a 7-digit compensation figure to miss the entire 2010 season.

The Charlotte outfit are not going to be able to make it onto the grid, and they are turning desperate. Speed TV are  calling it a “substantial 7-figure surety bond as proof of their intentions to race next year”. This money is being offered by Ken Anderson and Chad Hurley, who is the head of YouTube and a major partner of the team.

Update: I’ve removed this paragraph, simply because I got this part completely wrong. I had written this piece before the news came out that it was actually a surety bond. Which means that all my ramblings about bribes were complete rubbish, sorry about that, I know very little about surety bonds and the like.

FIA states new teams can’t miss races

The FIA has clarified the rules regarding some new teams not being able to attend the first few races. Jean Todt recently stated that Campos and USF1 could skip the first 3 races, if they were not ready, and would avoid punishment.

This statement has been overturned by the FIA, however, who have released a short statement:

“From a sporting and regulatory point of view, each Team that has registered for the Championship is obliged to take part in every event of the season. Any failure to take part, even for just one Championship event, would constitute an infringement both of the Concorde Agreement and the FIA Regulations.”

The Concorde Agreement is, of course, the agreement of all the teams competing in Formula 1. If this contract is broken, the FIA have the power to disallow that team from competing in the sport.

This is good news for Stefan GP, who have already announced that they are sending equipment to Bahrain, in hope that either Campos or USF1 cannot make it. However, it seems that the team have overlooked the completely obvious. If a team drops out, the FIA don’t instantly hand another team their spot. Still, we might as well wait and see can Campos and USF1 get to the grid in time.

FIA to appeal Briatore verdict

FIA Flag

FIA Flag

The FIA has decided to appeal the decicion by a French court to overturn the lifetime ban imposed upon Flavio Briatore and the 5-year ban on Pat Symonds, for their involvment in the Crash-gate scandal.

Last week, Briatore succesfully got the courts to overturn his lifetime ban, as the judge stated the FIA did not have the authority or power to remove them from the sport.

Following meeting between FIA president Jean Todt and other representatives, they have elected to appeal the court’s verdict.

A statement from the FIA read as follows:

“The President of the FIA has consulted the FIA Senate and the FIA’s lawyers about the decision of the Tribunal de Grande Instance de Paris of 5 January. It was unanimously agreed that an appeal would be prepared.

“In his election campaign last summer, FIA President Jean Todt and his team announced that new measures for constructive change, including a disciplinary procedure, would be introduced. Work on this is well advanced. Once in place, this will address the issues in the Court’s judgement. Nonetheless, an appeal is merited.”

Also, the FIA were quick to point out that, while they are appealing the decicion, the original punishment still stands, meaning that Briatore and Symonds, for the time being, still cannot be involved in FIA-sanctioned sports.

In my last article on this, I mentioned that the FIA may choose to not give superlicences to drivers who use Briatore as their manager. However, this may not be done, pending the outcome of the FIA’s appeal.

Briatore continuing legal cases

Flavio Briatore, when managing Renault

Flavio Briatore, when managing Renault

Flavio Briatore has said that he plans to continue his legal pursuit of the Piquet family, and any drivers who terminated their contract with him.

Back in last September, Flavio announced that he was to take legal action against the Piquets, when the Crash-gate scandal broke out. He claimed that the family were blackmailing him to keep his contract.

In an interview with Gazzetta dello Sport, he said: “That’s very likely(continuing legal action). The bad that has been done to me won’t be forgotten in one day.”

Also, he stated that his previous lifetime ban was influenced by disputes between him and former FIA president Max Mosley. He said that: “First Mosley tried to make me lose titles, first with Schumi then with Alonso, and then to destroy me with this story.” He expects to have a better relationship with Jean Todt.

Regarding his role of driver manager, he said that he may also pursue legal cases against Heikki Kovalainen and Lucas di Grassi, who he claims have breached the terms of their driver-manager contract.

Mosley: Briatore affair far from over

Former FIA President Max Mosley

Former FIA President Max Mosley

Former FIA president Max Mosley has said that, despite Flavio Briatore’s lifetime ban being overturned, the affair is far from over.

In a French court on Tuesday, the judge found that Briatore’s and Symonds’s bans were past the limits of the FIA’s power, and that the bans must be overturned. The FIA’s legal team are currently considering an appeal.

It would be unimaginable to see the crimes of crash-gate go unpunished, and Mosley agrees, saying that the FIA could even change the rules, so as to be able to ban non-licence holders.

In an interview with the Telegraph, he said:

“The suggestion that we can’t penalise anyone who doesn’t have a licence is very serious because, for example, we wouldn’t be able to ban those people who blacked up their faces and upset Lewis Hamilton (Barcelona in 2008) from coming to a race.”

“But in any case the FIA can easily change its rules so that it takes account of what the court said. They said we weren’t allowed to ban non-licence holders. Well obviously you can bring in a rule which does allow you to, if you wish.”

“One thing’s for sure, it’s very far from over.”

The fact that Flavio Briatore and Pat Symonds do not have to hold licences to be in F1 is the reason they cannot be banned, since there is no legal authority to remove them from the sport. However, the FIA still have the power to refuse superlicences to drivers who use Briatore as their manager. Also, they may not put a team on the entry list if they hire him. It remains to be seen whether they will use this power or not.

One other problem the FIA has is Bernie Ecclestone, who said that he had no problem with Briatore returning to the F1 paddock. Both he and Briatore agree that Flavio would be working in driver managment, rather than with a team. However, it is very doubtful that the FIA would allow this to happen.

Whatever happens next, this is definitely the first big test of Jean Todt’s role of FIA president. If he can find a way of keeping Briatore out of F1, then he can prove that he is the man for the job.

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