Tag Archives: WMSC

Bahrain Grand Prix returned to calendar

Amid unanimous opposition the Bahrain GP has returned

Amid unanimous opposition the Bahrain GP has returned

The Bahrain Grand Prix has been reinstated on the 2011 Formula 1 calendar, after a decision made today by the World Motor Sport Council.

The Grand Prix will take place on the 28th – 30th October, when the Indian GP was supposed to take place. No statement has been made on this yet, but it is believed it will be moved back to December, a move that teams are strongly opposed to.

The following statement has been issued by the Bahrain International Circuit:

The head of the Bahrain International Circuit (BIC) today welcomed the decision of 
the FIA (Federation Internationale de L’Automobile) World Motor Sport Council to 
reintroduce the Bahrain Grand Prix to the 2011 calendar.

The decision, announced by the FIA after the Council’s meeting in Barcelona, 
follows a FIA delegation visit to Bahrain to assess the situation in country 
this week.

Zayed R. Alzayani, Chairman of the BIC, said: “This is welcome news for all of 
Bahrain. As a country we have faced a difficult time, but stability has returned; 
with businesses operating close to normal, the State of National Safety lifted and 
countries removing travel restrictions.

“Collectively, we are in the process of addressing issues of national and 
international concern, and learning lessons from the recent past. By the time the 
Grand Prix arrives we will be able to remind the world about Bahrain at its best.

“The Bahrain Grand Prix has always been a source of national pride and it is an 
event than transcends politics. Not only does it receive strong support from the 
Government, but also from all major parties in Bahrain, including our largest 
opposition group, Al Wefaq, who yesterday endorsed both the BIC and motor racing 
in Bahrain.

“Importantly, it will also offer a significant boost to the economy. The Grand 
Prix attracts 100,000 visitors, supports 3,000 jobs and generates around $500m 
of economic benefit. Its positive effect will be felt throughout the country.

“On behalf of Bahrain, I would like to thank Bernie Ecclestone, Jean Todt and 
the FIA and the rest of the motorsport community for the support and understanding 
they have extended to us this year.”

Bahrain is a pioneer of motorsport in the region and the rescheduled Grand Prix 
will be the 8th hosted by the Kingdom since its inaugural race in 2004.

After a meeting of the teams in Monaco, team principals agreed their unanimous opposition to the reinstallation of the Grand Prix. After a government crackdown on protestors in the past few weeks, nearly the entire paddock is against returning to the troubled state.

However, according to the Guardian, the teams have no choice in the matter if they are instructed to race:

The Formula 1 teams are united in their opposition to the reinstatement of the Bahrain 
Grand Prix but concede that they would be legally obliged to attend should the World 
Motor Sport Council give the race the green light."

The teams have made their opposition clear to Bernie Ecclestone. Several human rights groups have also written to the FIA asking them to remove the race from the calendar.

While I don’t want to get political about this, I feel that this is completely the wrong call. On the same day that the race was reinstated, thousands of Bahraini citizens are taking part in a funeral procession for an activist killed in police custody. The efforts that the Bahrain government made to get this race back were disgraceful, and Formula 1 simply cannot be a part of this.

Ferrari decision revealed: WMSC ignores recommendations, Todt says: “Not enough evidence”

The reasoning of the World Motor Sport Council letting Ferrari off with charges of team orders has been explained today, and it’s not a pretty sight. The WMSC ignored a reccomendation from the Reporter (investigator) to penalise Fernando Alonso, while Jean Todt claimed there was “not enough evidence”.

Lars Osterlind, one of the top names of the FIA since Max Mosley took over years ago, and tipped for Presidency in the future (currently Vice-President), was appointed as the Reporter for this case. Put simply, he was in charge of investigating every single aspect of the team orders case, and he showed the WMSC some truly damning evidence to incriminate Ferrari.

For example, he found out that both drivers, before the team order, were instructed to turn their engines down, presumably to save fuel or the engine. However, Lars found that Alonso soon turned up the revs on his car “without Mr. Massa being informed. Mr Fernando Alonso was therefore benefiting from a definite performance advantage over Mr Felipe Massa in the moments preceding the contentious overtaking.”

He then went on to explain why the ethics of sport were broken:

“Motor racing ought to be unpredictable, as it has been to
date. Part of that competitive element is to take equal
interest in all competitors. Irrespective of their fitness,
talent or position in the race, competitors should be able
to rely on themselves for purposes of winning the race
without any form of external aid influencing their sporting
performance.”

He presented his full findings in a 160-page document, and gave it to the World Motor Sport Council. The FIA acknowledged that Ferrari had interfered with the race, but refused to increase the penalty, stating:

"There were many examples of what could have been said to be 
team orders in Formula 1 in recent years, and therefore there 
has been inconsistency in its application.

Also its application to indirect team orders via messages 
where drivers raise no complaints is uncertain and difficult 
to detect and police."

They even admitted that rules 39.1 (no team orders) and 151.c (bringing the sport into disrepute) were broken, but still found no reason to full prove that Ferrari’s messages directly interfered with he race, rather Felipe Massa made a “decision based on the evidence presented” to him by the team.

Ferrari claimed that “team orders were different from team strategy”, meaning that there would be a difference between a “supply of information or a request for what a team would like a driver to do” and direct orders.

The WMSC also noted that they had received letters of support for Ferrari from Frank Williams and Peter Sauber, heads of the Williams and Sauber teams.

Meanwhile, FIA president Jean Todt claimed that there was “not enough evidence” to fully prove Ferrari’s guilt. Seeing as he was in charge of Ferrari during the biggest team order scandals in F1, why are we not surprised?

Really, this is a scandalous day for Formula 1. This completely undermines the team orders ban, and will almost certainly destroy the championship battle in terms of team-mates racing each other. Ferrari, the FIA, and the WMSC should hang their heads in shame.

No further punishment for Ferrari after team orders

The World Motor Sport Council have decided that Ferrari will escape any further punishment for their team orders in Germany this year. They also announced that the $100,000 fine imposed by the FIA will continue to be upheld.

However, no reason has yet been disclosed for their decision to let them off. A statement will be added here when it is made.

All I can say is that this is absolutely disgraceful. Even if the WMSC couldn’t prosecute them under the rule banning team orders, they could just have easily used rule 151c (bringing the sport into disrepute) to serve justice.

Put simply, the WMSC have just shown themselves as being spineless cowards. It’s not as if the fans were looking for Ferrari to be thrown out altogether, maybe a larger fine and suspended ban would have done fine. A $100,000 is nothing compared to the damage Ferrari have done to the sport in recent weeks.

More on this soon.

Update: Ferrari do have to pay the FIA’s legal costs, but this surely isn’t much. Also, the Sporting Working Group are to look into whether the team orders ban should stay or not. Ferrari have released a short statement:

“Ferrari has taken note of the decision of the FIA World Council, relating to the outcome of this year’s German Grand Prix and wishes to express its appreciation of the Council’s proposal to review article 39.1 of the Formula 1 sporting regulations, in light of what emerged during today’s discussions.

Now, all the team’s efforts will be focussed on the next event on track, when the Italian Grand Prix takes place at Monza this weekend.”

Ferrari fined $100,000 and WMSC to investigate further

Ferrari have been fined $100,000 after they broke the Sporting Regulations of Formula 1 twice, regarding the team order to Felipe Massa to allow Fernando Alonso through, during the German Grand Prix. Also, the World Motor Sport Council have been referred to, meaning that they will investigate this matter further.

Felipe Massa is ordered to allow Fernando Alonso through

Felipe Massa is ordered to allow Fernando Alonso through

After the race, the team claimed that they had not ordered Massa to let Alonso through, and only “provided him with information”, even though radio transmissions proved otherwise. Also, Massa said that he allowed Alonso through,albeit of his own choosing.

The stewards decided that this incident broke article 39.1 of the Sporting Regulations, which states: “Team orders which interfere with a race result are prohibited.” Also, it was decided that the infamous article 151c of the International Sporting Code was broken , which involves bringing the sport into disrepute.

They decided on a fine of $100,000, even though they fined Ferrari $1,000,000 after Austria, when Rubens Barrichello allowed Michael Schumacher through at the very last second on the final lap, after being shouted at for many laps by the Ferrari boss, Jean Todt.

While the opportunity of further punishment is appealing, the fact of the matter is that the next World Motor Sport Council meeting is in September, by which time the excuse will be “it’s too late for another penalty”. In my opinion, a big loss of constructor’s points would do, as they would lose plenty more money by finishing further down the order. However, the drivers’ points should remain unchanged, as they weren’t the ones who orchestrated this incident, although you could argue that Felipe was a bit spineless letting Alonso through.

Thoughts on the 2011 rule changes

Yesterday we saw a fleet of rule changes brought in by the World Motor Sport Council and the FIA, to tackle an order of issues for the 2011 season. These range from clarifying safety car rules and fuel samples, to the tyres supplied to the grid and the adjustable rear wings.

Unfortunately, in my view, the larger rule changes are all for the worse. The adjustable rear wings, for example, are simply a far too complicated version of trying to reduce downforce for the car behind. Banning diffusers, or any other method of reducing rear downforce, would have been better. Also, the 107% rule is quite unnecessary, seeing as the new teams are catching up quite well. The new team next year will have extra pressure put on them, thanks to this rule.

However, on the other side, some of the changes do make sense. First of all, I’m very happy that Pirelli has been chosen as the tyre supplier, as Michelin were simply bringing far too many demands. The increased minimum weight will encourage teams to run the KERS system next year (more on this in a separate post), which needs to be run by every team in order for it to work.

Other rules, like the safety car line, Ho-Pin-Tung’s superlicense and fuel samples, are less important, and won’t generate much controversy. What do you think of the new rule changes? Have a say below:

More 2011 rules: Weight, fuel samples, safety car line, licences and more

Michael Schumacher's Monaco penalty has been clarified by the FIA and WMSC

Michael Schumacher's Monaco penalty has been clarified by the FIA and WMSC

After the announcement of Pirelli being the sole tyre supplier, adjustable rear wings, and the 107%, the World Motor Sport Council have announced even more (but smaller) rule changes for the 2011 season. I would be here all year if I were to write separate articles, so I have put them all into one post:

The safety car line

The WMSC have clarified the issue regarding the safety car line, after what happened to Michael Schumacher and Fernando Alonso during the last lap of the Monaco Grand Prix:

"With immediate effect, no car may overtake until it has passed the
first safety car line for the first time when the safety car is
returning to the pits. However, if the safety car is still deployed
at the beginning of the last lap, or is deployed during the last
lap, it will enter the pit lane at the end of the lap and the cars
will take the chequered flag as normal without overtaking."

This is good news, as there will be no more arguments about whether overtaking is allowed on the last lap after the safety car pits. The safety car line was introduced this year, so as to create more exciting restarts during the race, but not for the end.

“Competitor’s staff” FIA Licence

While this is not a rule yet, it is a proposal. This is to give licences to “staff of competitors”, in other words, all team personnel, at and away from the track:

"A proposal relating to specific licences for members of staff of
competitors entered in the FIA World Championships has been
submitted to the Formula One Commission. This is under consideration
for implementation in the FIA Formula One World Championship from
the start of 2011, with a view to inclusion in other FIA World
Championships in the future."

The only real use of this, as far as I can see, is to stop Flavio Briatore and Pat Symonds returning to the sport in 2013. To be honest, apart from suspicious employees (Mike Coughlan?) this rule shouldn’t be put into use much. Hopefully.

Fuel samples and stopping out on track

This is a rule for Lewis Hamilton only, after what happened at Canada. This new rule states that, after all practice and qualifying sessions, the car must be brought back to the pits via its own power. In other words, the car cannot be switched off in order to save fuel for a fuel sample:

"With immediate effect, any car being driven unnecessarily slowly,
erratically, or which is deemed potentially dangerous to other
drivers, will be reported to the stewards. This will apply whether
any such car is being driven on the track, the pit entry or the
pit lane.

In order to ensure cars are not driven unnecessarily slowly on
in-laps during qualifying or reconnaissance laps when the pit
exit is opened for the race, drivers must stay below the maximum
time set by the FIA between the safety car line after the pit
exit and safety car line before the pit entry. The maximum time
will be determined by the race director at each event prior to
the first day of practice, but may be amended during the event
if necessary.

With immediate effect, if a sample of fuel is required after a
practice session the car concerned must have first been driven
back to the pits under its own power."

Charlie Whiting has already issued a warning, that anyone who tries what Hamilton and McLaren did in Canada will be punished, so again this is simply a clarification of the rules.

Minimum weight

The minimum weight of the cars will be increased from 620kg to 640kg. This is to encourage teams to run the KERS system next year (which FOTA is now allowing their members to use for 2011). This year, the minimum weight was increased from 605kg to 620kg, for the refuelling ban and for KERS, although the latter was not used this year.

"From 2011, the minimum weight of the car must not be less than
640 kg at all times during the event."

Hopefully this will encourage all teams to run KERS next year, rather than just a few. Certain teams have already announced that they will be running KERS next year. More on this later.

Ho-Pin-Tung’s Superlicence

Ho-Pin-Tung has been granted a probationary 4-race superlicence, which suggests that his Renault team applied for one. The Chinese driver had just taken part in a test session in a Renault R29 last weekend.

"Based on his career résumé and comparative F1 testing times, the
World Council has approved the granting of a four-race probationary
super license to Chinese driver Ho-Pin Tung."

As I always say, I love giving new drivers a chance in F1. However, I hope this superlicence isn’t for this year, as surely Pin-Tung has not had enough testing yet. Having said that, there was a rule implemented a few months back, that said that a new driver in the middle of an F1 season was allowed a test session before his first race.

Driver conduct on the road

Another Lewis Hamilton rule here, after what happened to him during the Australian GP weekend:

"The FIA, both in its motor sport and mobility roles, has a strong 
interest in promoting road safety. Competitors at FIA events must 
act as ambassadors for the sport, be aware their conduct on the 
road must be exemplary and respect road safety rules. The World 
Council agreed that the International Sporting Code be examined 
to ensure the Federation’s overall objectives and, in particular, 
its commitment to road safety, are upheld."

In other statements, the FIA and WMSC have suggested penalties to drivers who are dangerous on the road, and this should be good news. While us sensible F1 fans know how to behave on the road, there are plenty of idiots who don’t. If a race driver is driving dangerously on the road, it needs to be shown to everybody that nobody is above the rules of the road. If that means compromising the driver in their sport, so be it.

All of these new rules will be summarised in a later post.

Adjustable rear wings for 2011 – but only for overtaking

It has been announced by the World Motor Sport Council today that adjustable rear wings will be introduced into Formula 1 for the 2011 season, but can only be deployed when a car is following another, and cannot be used by the leader. This has been implemented to assist overtaking.

The adjustable rear wings would not be allowed to be used in the first 2 laps. Also, it can only be activated when a driver is less than 1 second behind the car in front. The driver is notified by his electronics (a light probably) when the system can be used. When the driver hits the brakes after using the rear wing, the system is disabled.

The World motor Sport Council explained this system in more detail:

"From 2011, adjustable bodywork may be activated by the driver at 
any time prior to the start of the race and, for the sole purpose 
of improving overtaking opportunities during the race, after the 
driver has completed two laps.

The driver may only activate the adjustable bodywork in the race 
when he has been notified via the control electronics that it is 
enabled. It will only be enabled if the driver is less than one 
second behind another at any of the pre-determined positions 
around each circuit. The system will be disabled the first 
time the driver uses the brakes after the system has been activated.

The FIA may, after consulting all the competitors, adjust the time
proximity in order to ensure the purpose of the adjustable 
bodywork is met."

I’m not sure about this one. This system gives about 15 km/h extra speed in a straight line, and that is plenty to pass the car in front. However, it may be making it too easy to pass another car, and then when a driver has been overtaken, they can just repass them the following lap.

The F-duct was banned (a good thing in my book) to make way for this innovation, and coupled with KERS (I will write on this later), this could well make overtaking too complicated for the fans, and for the driver.

107% rule returns for 2011

Neither of the HRT cars would have raced in Bahrain if the 107% rule was in place

Neither of the HRT cars would have raced in Bahrain if the 107% rule was in place

As well as Pirelli being the sole tyre supplier from 2011 onwards, the FIA have today announced that the 107% rule will return to Formula 1 in 2011. This was announced at the World Motor Sports Council today. From 2011 onwards, any driver who does not get within 107% of the fastest lap of Q1 will not be allowed to start the race.

The World Motor Sport Council explained the 107% rule in more detail:

"From 2011, any driver whose best qualifying lap exceeds 107% of
the fastest Q1 qualifying time will not be allowed to take part
in the race. Under exceptional circumstances, however, which may
include setting a suitable lap time in a free practice session,
the stewards may permit the car to start the race. Should there
be more than one driver accepted in this manner, the grid order
will be determined by the stewards."

Now I’m sure that, in the event of rain or track damage during qualifying, the stewards would allow a slower car to go through to the race, but overall I think this rule is a bit pointless. The new teams are quickly getting up to speed, and would hardly get caught out by the 107% rule next year.

After a few minutes of figuring it out, I have concluded that there would have been 5 drivers knocked out in 4 different races this year if the 107% rule was already in place. In the season-opener in Bahrain, both Bruno Senna and Karun Chandhok would not have started. Then, in Malaysia, Lucas di Grassi would have been gone.

In Spain, Bruno Senna again would have been left out. Finally, Karun Chandhok in Canada would be excluded under 107% regulations. But, in the future, I can’t see how it would happen this often. If there is a 13th team in F1 in 2011, it will only make it harder on them to get into the sport.

As we have seen already, there haven’t been any serious difficulties with slow backmarkers, even in Monaco. This is why I believe that the 107% rule is a waste of time.

FIA to change safety car rules

Because of a lack of clarity on safety car rules, Michael Schumacher lost his points-scoring position

Because of a lack of clarity on safety car rules, Michael Schumacher lost his points-scoring position

The FIA has admitted a “lack of clarity” regarding safety car rules, and has promised to change the regulations accordingly. Following Michael Schumacher’s penalty for overtaking on the last lap as the safety car had already pitted, much critisism has been aimed at the rules for not being clear enough.

However, since then, the FIA have issued a statement, saying that the rules were not clear enough, and would consider changes at the next World Motor Sport Council meeting on June 23rd. They said:

The problems identified during the final lap of the Monaco Grand 
Prix, counting for the 2010 FIA Formula One World Championship, 
showed a lack of clarity in the application of the rule prohibiting 
overtaking behind the Safety Car.

Adjustments to the regulations are necessary to clarify the procedure 
that cars must meet when the last lap is controlled by the Safety Car 
whilst also ensuring that the signaling for teams and drivers is made 
more clear.

These adjustments will help to avoid the problem which occurred during 
the Monaco Grand Prix from happening in the future.

The Formula One Commission, upon a proposal of the F1 Sporting Working 
Group will submit an amendment to the Sporting Regulations to address 
this issue. These amendments will be considered by the World Motor Sport 
Council at its next meeting in Geneva on June 23.

To be honest, I’m not sure what rule they can actually change. In the regulations, it is clearly stated that overtaking is not permitted when the safety car pits at the end of the race. Having said that, providing clarity on the issue works just as well.

Regarding the initial penalty, opinion is split. In the poll I put up yesterday, 50% believed that the penalty was wrong as it was under racing conditons, 21% wanted a smaller punishment, and 29% thought the penalty was fair.

Teams agree to new points system – again

The Formula 1 teams, working as FOTA, have agreed to change the current F1 points system again.

Last year, a new points system was agreed, gining 25 points to the winner, and extend the points down to 10th place. However, there were many complaints, such as not enough gap in points between 1st and 2nd.

Today, FOTA announced a new set of points, that will be submitted to the FIA World Motor Sport Council. However, this is really only routine, as this new system will almost definitely be introduced.

The new points system is as follows:

Winner 25
Second 18
Third 15
Fourth 12
Fifth 10
Sixth 8
Seventh 6
Eighth 4
Ninth 2
Tenth 1

The most notable change is the bigger difference in points between 1st and 2nd, which is now 7 points instead of 5. Also, there are more equal gaps between the other places.

Overall, this is a better idea than the previous version. Many of the people I have talked to also agree, so this is a step in the right direction.

The idea of points being introduced for fastest laps and pole positions were suggested, but no agreement was reached.

This idea should be accepted by the WMSC in the next few days.

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