FIA/FERRARI MEETING: THE LOWDOWN
Last Updated: Thursday, 03, February, 2005, 14:22
Motorsport’s governing body the FIA has published minutes of the meeting it held with Ferrari at Heathrow last Friday and distributed copies to the other nine teams who chose not to attend.
The range of issues discussed ran the gamut from tyre and testing regulations to a major reduction in downforce, long-life components and a standard ECU. The key points of the meeting are summarised below.
Under the heading of “possible technical and sporting measures to reduce costs”:-
The FIA was in favour of a standard electronic control unit to cut costs and to enable an enforceable ban on systems such as traction control. Ferrari “supported the principle” but proposed that a feasibility study be carried out. Implementation proposed for 2008.
The FIA supported standardised braking systems. Ferrari preferred to retain discretion and proposed long-life brakes as an alternative. Implementation proposed for 2008 but would be possible in 2006.
The FIA proposed bodywork regulations to reduce the potential for aerodynamic development. Jean Todt accepted that this would make the car simpler to design but said that in the short term it could increase expense and therefore should be introduced as part of a package of measures in 2008. This was agreed.
HOMOLOGATION OF CAR DESIGNS
Jean Todt explained that Ferrari was in favour of designs being homologated and fixed for specific periods of time as it would make component production more efficient and thus reduce costs. Implementation proposed for 2006.
Ross Brawn had calculated that Ferrari would save at least 1.6 million euros if long-life transmissions and uprights were introduced. The FIA was in favour of this proposal and said it could be implemented in 2006 if a decision was taken by April 2005.
FURTHER EXTENSION OF ENGINE LIFE
Ross Brawn suggested that this matter be reviewed once the effects of the new 2005 rule could be assessed.
ENGINE RPM LIMIT
Ross Brawn said that Ferrari felt there should be some means of constraining engine performance but not necessarily through a rev limit. This was noted and the FIA will seek the views of other engine manufactures.
It was argued that cutting downforce very substantially – to, say, 10 per cent of current levels – would allow closer racing, promote overtaking and increase safety in high-speed corners if done in conjunction with a major increase in mechanical grip (e.g. by reintroducing wide slick tyres).
It was agreed that the FIA should commission an independent expert to study this issue in more detail. Implementation proposed for 2008.
STANDARD TRANSMISSION AND DRIVETRAIN, MATERIAL LIMITATIONS
The FIA and Ferrari both supported these proposals for cost-saving reasons and the FIA said that they could be introduced in 2006 if a decision was taken soon.
SINGLE TYRE SUPPLIER
The FIA was strongly in favour of this. Jean Todt proposed that the FIA invite the tyre manufacturers to a meeting to discuss this in further detail. This was agreed.
RETURN TO SLICK TYRES
The FIA proposed a return to slick tyres, with only three fixed compounds for the entire season. It was agreed that this matter should be discussed at the proposed meeting with the tyre manufacturers.
BAN ON TYRE WARMERS
The FIA argued that a ban on tyre blankets and other tyre-warming devices would result in significant savings. Ferrari felt this could be introduced in the future as long as the teams were given enough notice. Implementation proposed for 2008.
NO SPARE CAR
This was supported by both the FIA and Ferrari for cost-saving reasons. Implementation proposed for 2006.
TWO-DAY GP WEEKEND
The FIA said there was a case for using the Friday of a GP weekend as a test day and that it was more natural to have the practice and qualifying sessions on Saturday and the race on Sunday. It was agreed that this should be looked at in the future discussions of race and testing formats.
ELIMINATION OF THIRD CAR ON FRIDAY
The FIA was in favour of this if the GP weekend was still to include running on Friday. Jean Todt argued that if there was a sound commercial reason for a small team to run a third car, e.g. in terms of sponsorship, this could be allowed as it could represent a significant income stream. Implementation proposed for 2006.
Under the heading of "possible general regulatory measures to reduce costs":-
FREEZE ON TECHNICAL AND SPORTING REGULATIONS
It was agreed that short-term technical changes did incur significant costs but that a freeze of regulations for three years could be too long.
ANNOUNCE CHANGES WELL IN ADVANCE
It was agreed that this was important to reduce the transitional cost of regulation changes.
The FIA said that the only way to regulate testing effectively would be to introduce a rule, rather than attempt a voluntary agreement between the teams.
The following restrictions were seen to be the most feasible in order to reduce costs:
that testing should be regulated by the FIA
that it should be based on mileage rather than days
that there should be no testing on GP circuits other than Barcelona, Monza and Silverstone
that testing should be split into in-season and out-of-season.
Ross Brawn restated Ferrari’s opposition to the 30-day testing rule and argued for a testing limitation based on mileage rather than days.
Implementation date would be suggested following proposed meeting of tyre manufacturers.
ENGINE SUPPLY RULES
A proposal requiring engine suppliers to make engines available on a similar basis to the current tyre supply rules was rejected by both the FIA and Ferrari, who preferred to leave engine supply to market forces.
FREEDOM TO SELL COMPONENTS
The FIA and Ferrari were both in favour of allowing teams to sell components (including entire chassis) and transfer intellectual property rights. Implementation proposed for 2006.
This was rejected by both the FIA and Ferrari.
MAXIMUM AGE FOR SECOND DRIVER
This was rejected by both the FIA and Ferrari.
ROLE OF FORMULA 1 COMMISSION
Jean Todt said that the Formula 1 Commission didn’t function as well as it should and questioned whether it served any useful purpose. It was agreed that its role should be reviewed.
DATE OF NEXT MEETING
It was agreed to hold the next meeting on Friday April 15 at the FIA headquarters in Paris.