Motor racing-Formula One steps away from radical reform

Diskutiere Motor racing-Formula One steps away from radical reform im Smalltalk um den Mercedes Forum im Bereich Allgemeines; LONDON, Oct 28 - Formula One officials announced two more drivers would get points in every grand prix and a shake-up in qualifying among changes...

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    LONDON, Oct 28 - Formula One officials announced two more drivers would get points in every grand prix and a shake-up in qualifying among changes designed to spice up the sport after a year of Ferrari domination.

    Team orders, when a driver is instructed to let a team mate past, will be prohibited from 2003.

    The International Automobile Federation's (FIA) Formula One Commission considered several proposals, including a weight handicapping system for dominant drivers, on Monday but stepped away from radical reforms.

    "The ballast (issue) was thrown out," said FIA chief Max Mosley. "People thought it was better to find a solution without putting people under pressure.

    "We all felt we would like to see Schumacher or whoever trying to win the championship as best he could without extra difficulty. We hope the new qualifying system will shake it up."

    The axing of the Belgian Grand Prix in a row over tobacco advertising was confirmed, but the race might be re-introduced in 2004.

    The top eight drivers will be awarded points in grands prix next season compared with six at present.

    The winner will receive 10 points as before, but the second placed driver now gets eight points rather than six. Third place receives six points, then five, four, three, two and one for the following five in the top eight.

    "Next season is going to be interesting," said Ferrari team boss Jean Todt.

    There will be two qualifying sessions compared to the current one, with one qualifying lap for each car and cars to run one at a time.

    "It'll be surprising if we don't see close racing next season but close racing depends on the leading teams all doing a good job not just one and they are determined to do that," said Mosley.

    TEAM ORDERS

    Team orders have triggered controversy for many seasons. World champion Michael Schumacher benefitted this year when Ferrari team mate Rubens Barrichello let him past to win the Austrian race in May.

    Falling television audiences after a season of Ferrari domination -- they won 15 of 17 races, Michael Schumacher won the world championship and his team mate Rubens Barrichello was runner-up -- caused much soul-searching within the sport.

    "The team orders are gone which is the most important thing," said former world champion Niki Lauda, now Jaguar's team boss.

    Mosley said teams would be watched very carefully for signs of interference:

    "If there is suspicion we will take it in front of the stewards," he said.

    Of the overall changes Lauda said: "It's the best compromise that could be achieved because we didn't change Formula One or add weight."

    BELGIAN RACE AXED

    At present there is one hour of qualifying on a Saturday at grands prix. Fans complain that drivers do not drive flat out on the Friday and many cars stay in the pits for much of the Saturday qualifying with little excitement on the track.

    Next season there will be qualifying on Friday and Saturday, with the fastest driver on Friday racing last on Saturday.

    Formula One has agreed to phase out all sponsorship by tobacco companies in 2006 in line with a global embargo favoured by the World Health Organisation.

    Belgium has not followed the example of several European countries which have offered a special dispensation from domestic legislation limiting tobacco advertising to motor racing until 2006.

    "Other countries adapted and Belgium did not," Lauda said.

    "Some countries allow tobacco and this is the problem (for Belgium). The decision was that we need tobacco because in the world economy today we need to keep every sponsor and not frighten them away.

    "It's very important to have advertising on cars -- this is the principle of Formula One, you need any sponsor."

    TOBACCO SPONSORSHIP

    Five Formula One teams including world champions Ferrari have tobacco sponsorship. Spa has hosted 36 Belgian Grands Prix.

    Mosley said the race could be re-introduced in 2004 if Belgium introduced an exemption from legislation.

    In a last-gasp rescue attempt, two Belgian senators said they planned to introduce a bill to the upper house of parliament this week aimed at postponing the date when the country's anti-tobacco law comes into effect.

    Their original bid to protect Belgium's grand prix failed in July when Green and Christian Democrat senators rejected a bill that would have lifted the ban on cigarette advertising for Spa's annual race.

    "The aim (of the bill) is simply to postpone the application of the law until September 30, 2003," French-speaking Liberal Senator Philippe Monfils said in a statement, citing the economic benefits of the race for the Spa region.

    "If this bill was approved, next year's grand prix would be saved, giving us the time to examine a definitive solution," Monfils said.
     
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    Motor racing-Schumacher loses favourite F1 track as Spa is axed

    LONDON, Oct 28 World champion Michael Schumacher lost his favourite grand prix circuit on Monday when Formula One's governing body removed Belgium from the 2003 calendar in a row over tobacco advertising.

    While International Automobile Federation (FIA) president Max Mosley and Formula One supremo Bernie Ecclestone both suggested Spa could be back in 2004, there remained a real risk of no return.

    Two new circuits, at Shanghai in China and in Bahrain, are due to be included in the 2004 season and European races will have to be axed to make way for them since the continent currently has 11 of the 17 rounds.

    Spa, one of the great tracks in motor racing history, could easily find itself following the likes of Brands Hatch, Jerez, Le Castellet, Kyalami, Zandvoort and Zolder down Formula One's memory lane.

    The Belgian circuit was cancelled, with no replacement, after the teams decided not to attend if restrictions on tobacco advertising were in place.

    While other countries have passed anti-tobacco legislation, Belgium is alone on denying Formula One an exemption before an agreed global ban in 2006 and has insisted on introducing it next August.

    "Other countries adapted and Belgium did not," said Jaguar's Niki Lauda.

    The race at Spa, where Ferrari's Schumacher made his debut in 1991 for Jordan and has won six times, would have been at the end of August.

    DOOR OPEN

    Ecclestone told a news conference that the door was not shut for Spa and denied speculation that the circuit might now switch to CART.

    "What's going to happen I think is that the government are quite convinced that the laws will be changed for next year so we will be back there in 2004," he said.

    "I don't believe we are going to see CART racing there at all."

    Two Belgian senators said they planned to introduce a bill in the upper house of parliament this week aimed at postponing the date of the law taking on tobacco advertising taking effect.

    Mosley said the decision on Spa, left entirely to the teams, had been very simple but also held up hope for the future.

    "It could come back on the calendar in 2004 if there's an exemption," he said.

    British American racing (BAR) boss David Richards, whose outfit is part-owned by British American Tobacco, said the teams had little choice given the stance of the Belgian government.

    "We have to stand firm on this particular issue, especially when so many other governments and circuits and people have gone out of their way to accommodate us. That was the only conclusion we could come to," he said.

    Asked whether Formula One could have a vintage season without Spa, a circuit famed for its challenges and history as a throwback to the golden age of motor racing, Richards replied:

    "For the purists maybe not but I look at new circuits like the Hockenheim revamp, I look at the future circuits of Bahrain and Shanghai and I feel very positive and optimistic."

    Some Formula One sources suggested that the tobacco legislation was not the only issue surrounding Spa's future.

    They pointed out that Belgium was not a major market for the carmakers who now dominate the sport and suggested that Spa had not done enough to move with the sport's technological advances.
     
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    Motor racing-Schumacher faces tougher test under new F1 rules

    LONDON, Oct 29 - Formula One bosses have made it harder for Michael Schumacher to win an unprecedented sixth title next year, even if the Ferrari driver has escaped being slowed down by lead weights.

    Important changes to the qualifying format and the points system introduced on Monday should help keep the championship open for longer than 2002 when Schumacher wrapped it up in record time.

    Schumacher equalled Juan Manuel Fangio's record of five titles with six rounds remaining this year in a record-breaking season of 11 wins.

    But next year he will compete under a revised system awarding points to the top eight finishers in a sequence of 10-8-6-5-4-3-2-1 rather than just the leading six with the current 10-6-4-3-2-1 format.

    Had that system alone been applied this season, Schumacher would at least have had to wait until his home grand prix at Hockenheim to be sure of the title rather than a race earlier in France.

    Schumacher would in fact have scored more points -- 102 after France as opposed to 96 this year -- but the advantage over his rivals would have been trimmed.

    Williams' Colombian Juan Pablo Montoya would have been 52 points adrift of the German after France, with 60 remaining to be won.

    However, changes to qualifying are likely to further complicate matters in 2003 with a new element of uncertainty introduced that could throw races wide open.

    Drivers will have just one flying lap each to secure pole position next year with their slots allocated according to times in a similar session on Friday.

    One mistake, a mechanical failure or a change in weather conditions could mean the difference between a place at the front of the grid and the back.

    BALLAST JETTISONED

    Schumacher has not had a mechanical failure on race day for more than a year but any problems on the Saturday could cost him dear from now on even if plans to introduce ballast handicaps have been scrapped.

    FIA president Max Mosley said qualifying would now "in all probability result in several of the fastest drivers making a mistake in their efforts to get at the front of the grid and being much further back than they would normally expect to be.

    "That on the Sunday will result in those drivers being forced to overtake a number of cars before they can get to the front at all whereas, at the moment, they would start on the front of the grid and really just drive away."

    The German has also been deprived of his favourite circuit after Formula One authorities axed the Belgian Grand Prix, that he has won six times since his debut there in 1991, in a row over tobacco advertising.

    Even more significantly, Ferrari's comfortable arrangement with tyre supplier Bridgestone will be weakened by a new regulation allowing tyre makers to provide different dry tyres to different teams.

    That will allow Williams and McLaren to effectively have tailor-made tyres from Michelin next year.

    Team orders, which have controversially favoured Schumacher in the past, have also been banned when they clearly interfere with the race result as they did in Ferrari's Austrian one-two this season.

    Ferrari won 15 of the 17 races in 2002 and their domination and Schumacher's success prompted the regulation changes as television viewing figures in some countries showed a distinct decline.

    MAINTAIN INTEREST

    The aim is clearly to stretch out the championship as long as possible but not to tie Ferrari or Schumacher's hands behind his back.

    "On balance it seems that what we're doing is likely to produce a significant change," said Mosley.

    "The ballast was thrown out because people felt that it was probably better to try and find a solution where we didn't put anyone under any sort of difficulty.

    "In the end I think we all felt that we'd really like to see whoever it may be, Schumacher or whatever, running in the best possible condition, going as fast as he possibly could, without any form of restriction.

    "We hope the new qualifying system will shake the grid up a little bit so that we'll see some of these people a little bit behind having to overtake which could lead to quite a bit of interest."
     
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    Motor racing-Team bosses confident F1 changes will work

    LONDON, Oct 28 - Formula One rule changes announced on Monday should provide a shot in the arm for the sport next year after a season of declining television audiences, team bosses said.

    "I believe personally that it is everything that is needed but we will have to wait for the middle of next season to see what effect it's really had," said British American Racing's David Richards.

    "I suggest that next season is probably going to be vintage Formula One again."

    Eddie Jordan said the changes should ensure a "better show, better excitement but at the same reduce where appropriate the costs".

    The governing FIA's Formula One commission met on Monday in a meeting that team boss Frank Williams had said earlier could be the most important in the sport's history.

    FIA president Max Mosley and Formula One supremo Bernie Ecclestone announced significant changes, albeit far removed from drastic measures threatened, to spice up the sport and save money after a year of Ferrari domination.

    Ferrari won 15 of 17 races this year but television viewers began to switch off as Michael Schumacher kept on winning.

    The measures including tightening the points structure, so that the second placed driver is awarded eight points instead of six, and allocating points for seventh and eighth places rather than just the top six.

    Qualifying will take place on Friday and Saturday, with two one hour sessions and drivers allowed just one flying lap each on their own. The fastest man on Friday will go last on Saturday.

    TEST BREAKTHROUGH

    Providing three teams agree by December 15 not to do more than 10 days of testing during the season, they will be allowed to test at each grand prix for two hours on Friday morning and with three cars before qualifying.

    Minardi's Paul Stoddart said the extra points for seventh and eighth places and the possible Friday testing were good news for teams like his that are regularly shut out in a series dominated by manufacturers.

    He also said the new Saturday format should mean an end to drivers, such as Minardi's departing Malaysian Alex Yoong, failing to qualify because it would be unfair to penalise anyone on the basis of just one lap.

    Jordan said he would look at the testing options.

    "It's very interesting, it's a new concept. Of course, it's a balance. Is there enough time to test in the pre-season to do the amount of things that you want to do?

    "It is a fair option to see whether you want to take the full testing or the Friday and at the moment I haven't decided," said the Irish entrepreneur.

    Stoddart had no doubts, saying testing on race Fridays could significantly improve his team's finances and he would sign up for it immediately.

    "I think the proposals are good for the sport. Certainly we're going to liven up both practice on Friday and qualifying on Saturday," said the Australian.

    "They will do what we want to do which is to improve the show to the people. And I think there is a little bit of help in there for the smaller teams.

    "For a team like us, we would like to run in a host nation one of that country's drivers. If that driver had a sponsor it would be a straight commercial business, we need money and it's a good way of earning it.

    "In the United States for example, I would have run both (U.S. drivers) Townsend Bell and Bryan Herta on a Friday morning.

    "The interest that would have created at the U.S. Grand Prix would have directly translated on Friday and Saturday into gate attendance and interest."

    Stoddart also enthused about the chance of a potentially underrated test drivers being able to show what they could do against regular drivers on grand prix circuits normally off limits to them.

    "When's the last time a driver who wasn't actually racing got to drive a Formula One car around Monaco, Australia, Canada, Japan and Brazil?

    "This is actually a rather major breakthrough and that's for me what I've got out of this meeting," said Stoddart.

    "Formula One has today made some very, very important decisions about its future. They have been done in the right spirit of promoting a great sport to be even greater."
     
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    Motor racing-FIA clarifies new qualifying rule

    LONDON, Oct 29 - Formula One drivers will not be guaranteed a place on the starting grid next season as a result of changes in qualifying, the International Automobile Federation (FIA) said.

    Minardi boss Paul Stoddart suggested after changes were agreed at a meeting of the FIA's Formula One Commission on Monday that the switch to a one-lap qualifying format would mean abolition of the existing '107 percent rule'.

    But an FIA spokesman said on Tuesday that the rule would still apply.

    In 2002 drivers had 12 laps over a one-hour session. Any driver whose fastest lap was outside 107 percent of the pole position time was excluded from the race unless there were exceptional circumstances.

    Next season they will have one flying lap each in two sessions spread over two days, with Friday's times dictating the starting order for the decisive session on Saturday.

    The fastest man on Friday will start last on Saturday in a measure designed to liven up the sport after a season of Ferrari domination and declining television audiences.

    Minardi's Malaysian Alex Yoong failed to qualify three times this year but Stoddart maintained that it would be unfair to exclude a driver on the basis of one lap in future.

    "It's gone," the Australian had told reporters when asked whether the 107 percent rule would still apply. "Imagine if you go out first thing on Saturday lunchtime, you haven't got a chance in hell. The 107 percent is dead."

    Depending on weather conditions, circuits usually get faster later in qualifying sessions as the surface becomes 'grippier' due to rubber laid down by the cars' tyres.

    With the 107 percent rule remaining, a driver who suffers an engine failure or accident during his one flying lap on Saturday could in theory be excluded from Sunday's race for failing to qualify inside the limit.

    But race stewards are more likely to allow him to start from the back of the grid due to exceptional circumstances.
     
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