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Initiatives must not "denature" the sport, insists Todt

NEWS STORY
09/03/2021

FIA president, Jean Todt insists that initiatives aimed at spicing up F1 must not "denature" the sport.

Almost from the moment it got control of the sport, Liberty Media has been seeking ways in which to give Formula 1 - widely regarded as the pinnacle of motor sport - more pizazz.

First came the little things, like the logo and theme tune (anthem), while this year sees the introduction of a budget cap, to be followed in 2022 by a wide-ranging overhaul of the rules.

Though its push for reverse grids got the red flag, the sport is still trying to get the green light for sprint races that would decide the grid order for Sunday afternoons.

Speaking to the Cambridge Union, Jean Todt has admitted that he is in favour of ideas aimed at spicing up the action, but not at the cost of compromising F1's DNA.

"If we can find, and we are trying to do that, innovative ways of creating more excitement, a better show, we will do it but not at the cost of damaging the sport," said the Frenchman.

"There is the intention to have a kind of ‘super qualifying' at two or three Grands Prix already starting this year," he continued. "So we are happy to do something, but we don't want to denature the sport."

In terms of reverse grids, the former Ferrari boss admits that he was never in favour of the idea.

"Why I'm against reverse grids is because it is artificial," he said. "In a race weekend you spend two days to be as competitive as possible, to have a good starting position, so why if you are the quickest should you start at the back of the grid?

"It would be completely against the interest of the sport, against the nature of the sport," he argued.

Describing the budget cap as a "game changer", he said: "We did that in three steps, this year it is $145m, next year will be $140m and the year after will be $135m, without including the engine development and some other parameters which are well defined and listed.

"Clearly the cost cap is affecting mainly three teams," he admitted, "Mercedes, Red Bull and Ferrari. The other seven are not hurt today by the cost cap, so whether it means it will create less discrepancy between the small, medium and big teams, you don't achieve that very easily.

"It means you need to get rid of quite a lot of people to follow the cost cap regulation, so it takes a certain time. But I will say the first step to decide and implement it has been done, and it is a great success."

Looking ahead to the coming season, he said: "We can only hope that there will be more competition in the future. Not only for Ferrari, but it's good to see Red Bull being able to challenge Mercedes, to see Max Verstappen being able to challenge Lewis Hamilton."

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READERS COMMENTS

 

1. Posted by MossMan, 12/03/2021 9:08

"Regarding my first comment - I've now found and read Will Buxton's Twitter discussion from 2019 which seems to have been the inspiration for the FIAs recent murmurings. In his plan the qualifying race would be a championship-points based reverse grid, so if that was the FIAs baseline then I'm actually okay with that. You'd have to work out some fair way of working out the order when drivers are currently on the same points - by averaging championship positions over the previous two or three races, I suppose. That would extend to the end of the previous season for the first race and give rookies a headstart for a couple of qualifying races, no bad thing.

I'm quite liking it now... Ha ha!"

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2. Posted by elsiebc, 11/03/2021 17:43

"It's just an example of how the ruling class, the big government types, create a problem with their rules and then ignore that fact by trying to make more rules to fix the new problem. "The engines, er, power units, are too expensive!" Who legislated the eng, I mean, power unit design? "Since the eng, sorry, PU's are too expensive and a drag on the team budgets let's make them use less of them!" Capital idea! I should use that logic to cut my food budget in half. Just buy less food! Of course I'll have to spend untold hours researching the most energy and vitamin dense foods, and then go to multiple specialty stores instead of my local grocer to buy these foods, and then carefully dole them out so that I don't run out before I'm allowed to buy more. Nevermind the increase in doctor bills for my malnutrition, but hey, I'm eating less food each month!
"We need to mix up the grids!" We had that, duh! But you had to legislate reliability so that there's only one answer to each problem now. Pace and reliability were the ever present two sides on the teeter totter and teams kept playing with the fulcrum point. Different tracks, different conditions, they could take different chances. But when you pin the reliability side to the ground each team is only represented by their fixed fulcrum point (which takes massive efforts to move). The result is each team has a fixed angle which determines the height of the pace side. Now with budget caps, limits on testing, limits on wind tunnel time, and all the rest, does that place grease or super glue under the fulcrum? People given power lose all common sense. Now I understand the phrase "drunk with power".
"

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3. Posted by kenji, 11/03/2021 10:22

"Todt dismisses reverse grids as 'artificial' ! What hypocrisy. What is DRS if not artificial? Some handicaps work well and ensure that not always the outright fastest gets a 'rails run' which almost always guarantees that the same old same old fastest will win despite everyone elses best endeavours. It's interesting to note that for quite a few years there has been a handicap race between a top rated sports car, a supercar and an F1 car at the Australian GP. They almost always finish with only seconds between them after a handful of laps. Imagine an entire F1 grid converging on the last two or three laps? Wow, that would be something to see."

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4. Posted by Motorsport-fan, 10/03/2021 12:56

"Until we have cars that can truly race / overtake which are not effected by "aero" to provide this, tinkering is only going to effect the DNA."

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5. Posted by Greg, 10/03/2021 8:32

"And then goes on to set a lap record during the race....."

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6. Posted by Steve W, 09/03/2021 22:45

"Reverse grids... The driver who "somehow" manages a 9 minute lap at Monaco starts on the pole."

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7. Posted by MossMan, 09/03/2021 19:37

"I'm personally open to the idea of reverse grids, but not as part of some weird qualifying race format, more that the winners of one GP should be starting towards the back of the grid at the next GP. That way, all drivers will be fighting for places during each race but at the end of the season the best ones - i.e. those who are fast on the track *and* can overtake - will finish in the top half all the time and end up with the most points. The less skilful drivers may often start at the front, but will tend to finish midfield or towards the back. Not sure what you'd do with Saturdays though..."

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