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Looking forward to the start of F1 2009

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Posted 03-23-2009 at 07:43 AM by Bludd

So, winter testing is over and the Australian Grand Prix is imminent. Let's do a recap of what has happened in the world of Formula 1 since the end of the season.
[list][*]Honda pulled out of F1 in December 2008 citing economic reasons.[*]The Formula One Teams Association (FOTA) was created for the teams to get together and present a united front against FOM and FIA. They announced a 50% budget cut for 2010, no testing during the 2009 season, 8 engines for the whole season per driver/car. They also announced a new points system that would give more points for the winner. System would be 12-9-7-5-4-3-2-1, from P1 to P8 and they would submit it for approval by the FIA WMSC.[*]Ross Brawn and Nick Fry lead a management buy-out of the Honda Racing F1 team at the beginning of March 2009 after the Honda board approved their offer, though they cited before the buy-out that they were disappointed that there were not many serious offers to choose from.[*]McLaren has struggled for most of the pre-season tests. In all but the two latest days of testing, their aero efficiency has not been what it should be. It seems the new development parts they have fitted to the car have worked and they are not at the bottom of the time sheets any longer. They aren't at the top, though, so it will be interesting to see Lewis Hamilton work with a non-optimal car.[*]Brawn GP have blitzed the two tests they managed to squeeze in during the short time between the team coming into existence and the first race. [url=http://joesaward.wordpress.com/2009/03/12/brawn-speed/]Joe Saward[/url] points out that they may flatter to deceive, as other teams have done in the past. Saward reminds us of the Prost, but I also remember the BAR Honda of a few years ago. They were very quick in pre-season testing, but struggled immensely during the season.[*]The diffuser debacle. Brawn, Williams and Toyota insist their diffuser designs are within the regulations while Renault and Ferrari say they are not so sure. I wouldn't be surprised if there is a protest lodged in Australia if the FIA don't clarify this and they haven't at the time of writing, yet they should. Mosley have deferred to the stewards in Australia and if someone protests, there will be an appeal and everything will be hammered out in the courts. Boring.[*]The super-licence row. The drivers made themselves look silly by protesting the fee in the way they did. They threatened with a strike, but as Joe Saward points out no such strike has ever worked because the drivers can be replaced in a heart-beat; drivers from the lower formulae are chomping at the bits to get into F1.[*][url=http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/USGPE]United States Grand Prix Engineering[/url] was announced (first as USF1, but changed name to USGPE). They will be based in the US (Charlotte, North Carolina) and the cars will be built there.[/list]
Then, almost a week ago, on the 17th of March 2009 there was a meeting of the Federation Internationale de L’Automobile World Motorsport Council (FIA WMSC) in Paris. FIA President Max Mosley announced a voluntary £30 million budget cap for 2010, totally outmaneuvering FOTA's 50% cut. Teams that go for the cap will have almost complete technical freedom while the teams that don't will have to conform to strict regulations as we have now but could spend as much as they want. FIA thinks this is a no-brainer and I agree. They also say that the £30 million figure is a negotiating starting point, it should probably be almost doubled. Remember that the biggest teams now spend up to $400 million and have a thousand or more staff. For 2 cars. It's pretty crazy.

FIA WMSC also announced that the World Drivers' championship would go to the driver with the most wins, not the most points as of today. I kinda like this idea, because there is a certain virtue in winning and what we want to see is a winner. It does have problems, like the worst case scenario is that someone wins the 9 first races, and then drops out of the remaining 8. That one will have clinched the title mathematically. Anyway I would have given it a try.

FOTA was angry, though. They felt they had been totally destroyed by Mosley, he outmaneuvered them and left them in the dust. FOTA went "not so fast" and quoted from the regulations which say that any regulation changes have to be made before 30. November the preceeding year. If they are made after that date, all the teams must sign off on it. FIA said "fine, we thought you were all aboard" (Bernie probably told FIA they were, which wasn't strictly true, but Bernie is Bernie) "and we'll do it next year". FOTA didn't object because they hated the idea. They objected because they could, because they felt crushed by Mosley, because they wanted to stick it to the man and because FIA ignored their points system suggestion.

So there we are, season starts 29th of March in Melbourne, Australia.
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  1. Old Comment
    Bludd's Avatar
    [URL="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Dtms1IppbPg"]Here's a fan-made intro[/URL] to the BBC F1 coverage replete with the classic theme music from the olden days of BBC F1 before ITV acquired the rights.
    Posted 03-23-2009 at 12:43 PM by Bludd Bludd is offline

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