Teams reject overtaking move

08/04/2018
NEWS STORY

Since Liberty Media laid its $8bn on the table and effectively walked away with the deeds to F1, a new word has seemingly entered the sport's lexicon... "the fan".

Chase, Sean and Ross can barely open their mouths without uttering the word and now the team bosses have caught the bug.

Should the hardest of drinkers opt to play a game whereby they sink a shot every time Chase, Sean, Ross and pals utter the word, they'd be out of their heads long before the end of the interview. It’s that bad.

Yet, when the sport actually has the opportunity to do something positive for "the fans", it does what it always does, misses an open goal, shoots itself in the foot and puts self-interest above all else.

Yesterday, the FIA's aero man Nikolas Tombazis called a special meeting of the team bosses in a bid to solve the thorny issue of overtaking.

With overtaking in 2017 down 50% on 2016, and just 5 passes in Melbourne, it is one of the biggest issues facing the sport.

However, moves to improve overtaking in the short-term by means of a bigger and higher rear wing flap aimed at aiding the effects of DRS - which in itself is widely regarded by "the fans" as artificial, together with a (for now) modest simplifying of the front wing and brake ducts, were rejected by six of the teams with only four in favour.

With only a majority vote needed at this stage, the six teams - Mercedes, Ferrari, Red Bull, Toro Rosso, Renault and McLaren -got their way.

Despite the importance of the issue, it is understood that the meeting was eventually hijacked with talk turning to the moves which saw Marcin Budkowski and Laurent Mekies leave their jobs with the FIA for Renault and Ferrari respectively, the likes of Red Bull and Mercedes insisting that, in the latter case, a gentleman's agreement was broken and that in future such moves - including personnel leaving one team for another - should result in a period of gardening leave of twelve months.

The aero proposals can still be taken forward to the Strategy Group, which meets on the 17th of this month, and then the F1 Commission, but if a solution isn't found by April 30 any move would require the agreement of all ten teams... a rarity at the best of times.

In 1994, in the wake of the tragic events at Imola, the FIA was quick to react, even if some of the initial moves were of the kneejerk variety.

Assuming the FIA still has some say in rule-making surely it is in the best interests of all involved that the sport's governing body act now rather than wait on Ross Brawn's solution in 2021.

Speaking to Sky Sports, Brawn admitted that he hasn't entirely given up on a short term solution.

"There's some proposals going to the teams in the next few days for some things we could potentially do for 2019," he said. "If you look at the front wings we have now, they are massively complex, and the flow regime around the wing is incredibly complex, which makes it very sensitive to the car in front.

"So we simplify the front wings, then arguably you could say that you're going to go back in the right direction. Everything we have done in the last few years has gone in the wrong direction," he added, and of course, the man behind the double-diffuser would know all about that.

In the meantime, the 'who will think of the children' meme, made famous by The Simpsons Helen Lovejoy, might have its F1 equivalent, 'who will think of the fans'.

Check out our Sunday gallery from Bahrain, here.

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Published: 08/04/2018
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