Floored by the flawed

So, the FIA has decided to leave things as they are for qualifying in Bahrain, despite the debacle in Melbourne.

One can only think that this bizarre decision is based on the flawed logic that there was only a minor kerfuffle in the Melbourne  paddock after the Q sessions in Australia, rather than the  global meltdown of sizeable proportions for the sport on social media. These people are not on the pace. Their argument is that things might be better second time around.

It is not what one would call a scientific approach. If one was looking for the reasoning behind this weird conclusion, one might think things will be different with different tyre compounds. In Australia there were white mediums, yellow softs and red super-softs. So what will the tyre choices be in Bahrain and China?

White mediums, yellow softs and red super-softs.

I wish I was kidding.

OK, you think, the weather might be different. Could this help? Will the team’s knowledge of the rules be better? Will the teams deliberately adopt strategies that are not in their best interest, in order to retain a set of rules they do not want? Why would they do that? Why would any of this make any difference?

So why would the FIA stick to a system that is proven to be flawed? The It’s a knockout formula isn’t a knockout. It will always be patchy and a damp squib at the end.

If you stick your hand in a fire and you burn your fingers, is it smart to try the same thing again, on the basis that it might not happen a second time? Are the people at the FIA cleverer than the team strategists? They may think they are but, assuredly, they are not.

The only possible conclusions are as before: either the people on the strategy group are off the pace or they are doing this because they are all trying to screw one another.

There will come a time, fairly soon I think, when people are going to start asking seriously probing questions about the governance of this sport. The European Commission may or may not come and start poking around. It is now five months since a complaint was made by the small teams and nothing has been done publicly. People are beginning to wonder if the commission will bother.

In the interim, things have got far worse. You cannot expect the commercially-minded to have a different view. A hyena does not change its spots. Where there is money, there is drool. All that one can do is drive them away. The trouble is that to lead the charge you need a white knight, not a grey bureaucrat. I sense that there is increasing frustration with the current leadership at the federation when it comes to sporting matters. The problem is that the average size of political testicles within the FIA membership is on the small side, with no-one willing to stand up and say what needs to be said for fear that they will lose their perks. Lions do not sit on Wine Committees.

Still, one hears, more and more, people suggesting that the Mosley years were better because at least there was a man willing to fight for the sport.

Don’t get me wrong, there is nothing wrong with Jean Todt wanting to be a big banana in the world of road safety, it’s commendable if he is up to the job, but that is not his role at the FIA. He wants to wear too many hats and, like a driver on the podium trying to wear two caps at the same time, it doesn’t work. It’s time for Jean to stop bouncing up and down on the FIA springboard and make the dive, with a double back flip with a twist into the road safety world.

If he wants to stay on at the FIA, he needs to appoint someone else to do the sporting job – and let them do it. The problem is that Jean always sees the world being against him (he’s right this time) and does not want to create a platform for someone to use to take the whole job from him in 18 months from now.

The bad news is that if he doesn’t do something now, he may find the whole federation smiling, but with daggers under their togas in a year and a half.

119 thoughts on “Floored by the flawed

      1. ‘Only’ being the operative word. As you have pointed out many times in the past, the audience is falling, this doesn’t help.

        Remind me, what happened with that bloke in Rome… I think his name was Nero.

      2. As I have posted before these numbers massively over exaggerated and refer to potential reach not actual viewers – and anyone who works in above the line advertising knows as much if they hear such ludicrous numbers quoted.

      3. From now on I will watch only the race. And perhaps delayed since I will tape it anyway. That is 375 million – 1 and counting …

    1. I think that all of this is hilarious. The one thing that the strategy group actually agreed on turned out to be one of the most shambolic displays that I’ve ever witnessed. Now they can’t all agree on how to change it ha ha ha!!! Plus we’ve got the team principles all saying ‘it was nothing to do we me guv!’ What’s more, in 2018 they want us to pay to watch it. Priceless comedy ha ha ha ha!!!

    2. I’ll be getting up at 1am in Oz to watch it. I don’t like the new qualy format but at least they haven’t tampered with the race format… yet. Despite all this negativity, F1 is by far the greatest show on earth. Should be a great season on track at least.

      1. Hamilton, Alonso, Lauda and Coulthard and others have gone on record to state that MotoGP is a better show than F1 at present.

    3. Look who fronted this announcement, from what I read it was Bernie promoting it. He has put his neck in the noose, now we get to see the gallows drop him in a very public ending. His arteries have hardened to the point he is well beyond understanding what is going on. I would suggest CVC may be very happy to have the public at large rule him incompetent so he can be removed from power. Had to come, he can expect to be crucified by the media this weekend. It will be brutal. They can see this coming a mile a way so they have time to prepare for making big headlines.

  1. Surely if they want to mix up the grid there is only one way, draw numbered balls out of a bag. This will achieve there aim and save money and is greener but is everything motor racing is not. I have tried to stick with my sports interest of 50 plus years but this time I give up, I have better things to do like going to watch some club Karting, bullshit free!

    1. This 40-year fan also has his attention pulled away, in my case to WEC. I’m finding WEC to be much more compelling, and watching both WEC and F1 at my handy dandy Circuit of the Americas, I’m more impressed by the sports cars. Utterly amazing acceleration. F1 could still be helped with better sound, a prepared BMW Z4 or Aston Martin sounds better than current F1 cars.

  2. Flabbergasted. What on earth is wrong with these people? What an utterly stupid decision.

    This year will be the first year in a long time I won’t be attending a race. I’m not even sad about it. The farce that was qualifying in Melbourne has really turned me off.

    I want to see pure racing. I don’t want artificial grids decided by gimmicks and sly tricks.

  3. Joe, I am just as gobsmacked as you are. Is there a “white knight” waiting in the wings? They should change the name of the sport to FO, for Formula Obtuse.

  4. Joe, you mention the scientific approach. I’m pretty sure though a scientific approach would say a sample size of 1 is too small to draw definite conclusions???

    1. Depends on the experiment and the positive and negative controls. A nuclear explosion is pretty convincing first time around, which in terms of fubar effect, is close to this qualifying debacle.

      1. Doing the same thing over and over again without a result (but expecting one) IS insanity… Bernie GOT a result in HIS favour, that’s why it worked for him

  5. Never liked Todt as FIA president. He can take his Zebra Crossings paint brush and…. (you know where he can place it)
    Todt wants to be the great safety man of cars…I myself preferred a true leader in Road Safety “The Green Cross Man” played by the Bristol strongman who played Darth Vader (James Earl Jones did the voice) in the original Star Wars films.
    Todt needs to shown the door !

    1. Presidents of world sporting bodies are difficult to dislodge as they can effectively buy votes from the many member countries some of which have very little sport heritage and infrastructure but will welcome the money and support it’s provider. What do you think happened to the $100 million that the FIA extracted from McLaren after spygate for example

    2. A small aside, did you know that the chap you mention, (Green Cross Code man) went through the process of playing Darth Vader speaking the words and fully expected that it would be his voice heard in the film. He was amazed and devastated to learn he had been over dubbed as he was.

  6. the main problem is that FiA is the “Fédération Internationale Automobile” … not “Fédération Internationale du SPORT Automobile” … governance of the sport need à separate management as all the Sporting Federation in the sport world .
    All that system is built on the basis of 60 years ago situation, and it’s not any more suitable ..
    It’s my opinion that the president of the Sporting Federation has to be elected by the Nationals Sporting Federation representative, not the local Caravaning Club or touring club of country that never organize a car race .. This is all the system that is to rebuild ..
    On the same basis, the F1 controlled by the TV rights older is a “non sens”. A GP in Baku, in a country what don’t organize any car race is absolutely stupid …
    F1 is the top of Car Race, not only a promotional product .. this is bad, All that is to change, but at the same time, are the big team ready to go back to sport and to reduce the business side? ..
    As long as F1 teams are not able to live with only the money of the sponsors, (or their money) they will be under of the TVs right holders control .. It was 30 years ago that teams loose the train, when Bernie propose to the team to invest in the F1 organization and Image rights .Bernie is not to blame for that situation .. all F1 team managers have to think about that and not only to claim about the actual situation ..

    1. The crux of the problem is to find a way to stop the interference with rules, regulations and governance of F1 by the commercial rights holder, including his divide to rule practices.

  7. from what i’ve read elsewhere, they weren’t given the option of using 2015s format in either meeting, the suggestion this time is the teams havn’t investigated the halfway house solution of extra time in the first 2 q’s and then the last 10 being 2015 format, so didn’t want to commit to anything.

    imo you have to take into account the teams royally cocked up last weekend, half of them thought they could finish the lap when the timer ran out. there isn’t really any excuses for that. there would have been climactic laps if they had started them earlier, hence this halfway house to me that seems like it would work fine, but that is what the teams vetoed yesterday.

    the thing i don’t get is all these 1 hour qually formats have been about free to air tv, which wants a nice 1hr package of content. but these changes are supposed to be for the race promoters, who want a live crowd right? surely if you want people to come, you need several hours of stuff to do, not just a confusing 1 hr blast. the old all day format would be better for that.

    and now you have sky f1, the pressure to have a 1hr package is long gone. they have a whole channel to fill up and anyone paying for that (like me) will want as much content as they can get. all day qualifying would suit me fine. as it would f1s biggest box office draw lewis hamilton. pre-qualifying anyone?

    tl:dr, its not as bad as it seemed last week, but they don’t need to change it at all.

  8. Joe – I have a lot of respect for you as an F1 journalist and our family subscribes to GP+ but I am getting bored with the never ending diet of negativity on this blog from you. Yes there are some problems but they are not that important and the overall ‘show’ is still excellent.

    Bernie has taken F1 from a weekend pastime enjoyed by a few rich toffs to a global colossus that is in the top three of watched sporting events on the planet. Each Grand Prix is watched by around 380 million people, most of all who fall into the medium to upper income bracket, that is an advertisers dream demographic. At the same time the Twitter of which you speak so positively is hemorrhaging readers and will soon be the home of nobody apart from C list ‘celebs’ and lazy journalists.

    F1 is not prefect (it never has been) but the entertainment is great, the racing is enjoyable and the following is still huge.

    1. Oh dear, poor you. All is well. It all smells of roses. Let’s skip hand in hand into the twilight.

      1. Joe,
        That’s the extent of your response, I thought better of you.

        No F1 is not perfect, show me a sport that is, but your never ending obsession with social media is getting tedious and displays your lack of understanding when it comes to marketing and advertising engagement.

        Why do you think Rolex has poured millions into F1 in recent years, or Martini, or Diageo ? They do it because of the ability of F1 to reach their target audience, something that the Facebook and Twitter does not. They also understand that F1 still encompasses glamour, excitement and a hint of danger, not much chance of that when catching up on the latest ‘tweet’ !

        The problem with so many F1 fans and journalists is their tendency to look back on some mythical ‘glory days’ when everything was perfect but in reality the sport has always changed, always evolved, however the core of the appeal is the same. Fast cars driven at their limit by talented individual doing what we the fans are not capable of doing. That remains the case today and I for one still very much enjoy the spectacle.

    2. Glyn – are you watching the same races? What was great about the qualifying at Albert Park this year?

      there is a bunch of stuff that needs fixing in F1 – and the people in charge have seen fit to fix one of the things that wasn’t broken.

      Far from being a declining fad, Twitter, and social media are growing. In a decade TV as we know it will be all but replaced by streaming video (see Blockbuster vs Netflix) and kids today have smartphones and iPads and consume media very differently. Only F1 is not embracing the brave new world, the F1 website is archaic by modern standards, there is no F1 official YouTube that shows classic bitesize videos, you can’t sign up with FOM for a video on demand service for a reasonable (or even any sized fee) F1 remains locked into a 20th century paradigm and it’s viewership is falling.

      I’m not sure what exactly constitutes an ‘advertisers dream demographic’ though I’m pretty sure that one that’s lost ~25% of it’s viewers in the past 5 years and is still declining isn’t part of the description.

      F1 isn’t bad, but it could be sooo much better.

      1. “are you watching the same races? What was great about the qualifying at Albert Park this year?”

        The last minutes of qualifying wasn’t great. But the race was.

      1. Peter A Forbes – SIGH – No I’m not. I understand his point, I disagree with it. That is not the same.

  9. At the very least the F1 strategy group could have tweaked the format to allow any lap you have started to count, instead of running out of time half way round a hot lap. This is all so stupid from a bunch of clever people, that you would have to assume there is an ulterior motive but what it is beats me. Turkeys vote unanimously for Christmas?

    1. but that gets horrendously complex to follow, as say the lap is more than the 90second timeout, a driver could cross the line in last knockout place 1 second before being timed out,then go onto set the fastest lap of the session, but having taken more than 90seconds to complete the lap, the next driver could already have been eliminated had they not been on track, so who do you eliminate for the 1st and 2nd elminations to fill the gap,and by the time youve worked that out, theres been a 3rd elimination,

      You literally wouldnt have a clue who was in or not, and the tv director,and this is the biggest flaw in this qualy system, doesnt know which car to show because they dont know where the “action” or “story” is its just a bunch of cars crossing the line,and you hope you record any of the mistakes on the lap for replays.

      the only reason the lap counts as long as you start it before the timer hits 0 is because it doesnt compound the issues of eliminating drivers from the session and potentially encourages banzai last laps.

  10. Joe, Max is the one who sold off the sport and sparked the current problem, wishing him back (or someone like him) will help nothing. He’s caused most of this mess.

      1. Sorry Joe, I realize it might have implied you wished him back, I was actually referring to the people you mentioned thought the Mosley years were better, not you specifically. Great article by the way. I just hope sooner or later some sanity prevails.

  11. Couldn’t agree more, Joe. Einstein has said that the first sign of insanity is doing the same thing again and expecting a different result. Our beloved sport is run by mad men

  12. Un-Bloody-Believeable.
    If we thought we’d seen it all, we were wrong; and now it has come to this, I doubt there is any limit to the stupidity these cronies may be capable of.
    Can we return our gaze to the GPDA who admirably made their voice known, in hope of another more moving statement? I think not, unfortunately.

  13. I would guess that by the increase of players and committees the politics did not get any less and everyone is trying to get the best for themselves rather then looking at the overall picture of the wellbeing of the sport that is in effect employing and feeding them.
    The teams are fighting for rules and a division of the revenue that will help them the most.
    The strategy group is fighting to ensure they are still considered relevant
    The FIA is fighting to provide at least an appearance that they are still in charge
    The FOM is fighting to retain control by dividing all other parties
    CVC is fighting to suck out as much out of the sport before they run off
    Bernie is fighting to stay in charge and get out as much as possible.
    The owners of the circuits are fighting to retain their GP (at the lowest cost possible)
    the manufacturers are fighting for control of the sport and their regulations
    And now the GPDA is fighting to get some sensible leadership and decision making.

    Not sure if I got all of the parties involved and their motifs right but with this much fighting I would wonder how much will be left of the sport when the dust settles

  14. Unbelievable. How do these people even get to be in a position to make these decisions. In a couple of years there will be nobody watching the race weekends anyway but in the meantime there seems to be a plan to minimise viewer numbers. Like you said, I’m really starting to wonder if the plan is to weaken or destroy the sport or a dangerous play to weaken certain stakeholders.

  15. You don’t think that the inability of the Strategy group to come to an adequate resolution could be associated with someone wanting said Strategy group disbanded?

    Sent from my iCray


  16. Joe, what do you suspect might be going on in the background here? You suggested that this might be because “they are all trying to screw one another” and it looks to me like this *is* what we’re witnessing.

    I had previously thought that the teams’ Barcelona suggestion of a new Q1 and Q2 mixed with the old Q3 was not taken any further possibly because of Ecclestone wanting to prove a point (it was originally his idea but then he went around badmouthing it) but on this occasion it’s the FIA who have blackballed the change.

    I really can’t believe that they genuinely think they’re improving matters, so who’s tying to score points off whom?

    1. Ecclestone suggested reversing the top 8 on the grid to mix it up. It was Charlie Whiting that suggested the elimination format. No other options were allowed. Bernie badmouthed it because the one that was voted for wasn’t the one he wanted.

  17. The race in Australia was good, which is the main thing. And that might very well partly have been a result of the new qualifing format shaking things up.

    If they use the same format a second time it’s hardly the end of F1. So try to relax a little instead of getting all worked up yet again.

    1. You have no idea about the reaction to this outside your little bubble. F1 needs to do something and if you cannot see them your opinions are not worth much

      1. Everybody is entitled to their own opinions and are (imho) valued just as much. Whether you agree with them or not is another matter.

        1. I don’t agree. An obviously stupid is a stupid opinion. One is entitled to have it, but it has no value,

    2. The race being good had nothing to do with qualifying. There were maybe one or two drivers out of position, and one of them never even made it around to the grid. Everyone else was basically where they would have been under the old format. So aside from how disastrous it was with no one knowing what was going on, and quali ending 5 minutes before the flag waved, it also failed to do what it was there for, i.e. mix up the grid. It was successful on precisely zero levels.

    3. Micke
      Well said. There is far too much over reaction here to what was a good race, a great spectacle and from what I understand viewing figures that were higher than last year’s Australian GP.

        1. To be fair Joe, Glyn is not saying there are no problems whatsoever, he was saying the spectacle of the race was still sound and you were saying the same thing just a month ago…


          “F1 now is still a spectacle and the races are brilliantly subtle and close, perhaps they need to be more unsubtle to please more people. Bread and circuses, and all that…”

        2. Joe
          Are you determined to misread what I and others have written ? I did not say F1 had no problems, I said it was still a blooming good spectacle that has some problems that need fixing. Not something that will happen just because Bernie opens a Twitter account and the F1 website sticks up a few videos.

          Try a little less sarcasm and a little more journalism.

  18. “the FIA has decided to leave things as they are for qualifying in Bahrain”….

    So the FiA doesn’t want to get involved with anything except road safety, but they do want to get involved when it comes to an insane decision to leave qualifying as it is.

    I think FiA should be renamed FIU. (F* it up).

  19. Dear Channel 4 advertisers, given this news, you can be pretty sure I will not be bothering to watch the qualifying programme as I will likely find something else to do. So my eyeballs won’t be on your products for sure. In the meantime, I can wait to read the report of quali in GP+

  20. If only the teams could act as a single united force: What would happen if ALL teams parked during Q? Would the starting grid form up based on the Oz results??

    Of course it is asking a lot, but the point must be driven home by those who should care the most, the on track players. They need to forcefully make the point.

    Why won’t the Commission act on the F1 complaints? When you get down to it it is not a matter of economic life and death, it is only sport, affecting a relatively insignificant portion of the population.

  21. I’m thinking I might become a recluse. It’s getting incredibly tedious having to tolerate friends and acquaintances sniffing and carping about the inanity of F1 today, with the insinuations that I must be mad to watch it. The sad thing is I’m beginning to think they’re right. I stopped ‘promoting’ F1 a while ago, then I stopped defending it; now I’m wondering how much longer I will watch it, as the irritation and frustration are starting to overtake the enjoyment.

    There’s an old adage about the soap box, the ballot box and the ammunition box. Well, in F1 terms, a whole lot of people are getting nowhere on the former and the (few) enfranchised are corrupt or manipulated. It is surely time for the latter. There are stakeholders with the firepower but not, it seems, the appetite or leadership. As a fan, my only weapon is withdrawal of patronage, unless one wants to start boycotting products, I suppose, but that would be entirely pointless.

    F1 is a leisure expense. It is not cheap to watch all the races live and the investment of time over 20 race weekends is considerable indeed. The return has to be real enjoyment not just a slavish, one-sided devotion because it’s something I’ve always done. If a club or society to which I belonged was run like F1 I would, after protesting, leave; if a shop or restaurant I frequented behaved like F1, I would, after protesting, go elsewhere; if a television show I watched became absurd and infuriating, I would simply stop viewing.

    The problem is F1 has been more important to me than any of these things and protest is futile. Many people, however, whose relationships make them unhappy separate or divorce and come out better the other side. My actual wife, also a long-term fan, has already decided she will only watch the races now, not qualifying or the pre-shows and after-shows. I’m so sorry, F1, but it is you not me and I’ve got some thinking to do. I never thought I’d say this but there’s plenty my wife and I could do with the time and money we would be saving … and I probably wouldn’t want to be a recluse then either.

  22. I was hoping F1 had reached its stupidity peak with bringing in a new quali format a month before the start of the season, after it had already been looked at by actual clever people and determined to be rubbish.

    I was hoping after it fell flat on its face, after the drivers mostly said it was rubbish, the teams said it was rubbish and needed to go, all the fans said it was rubbish and needed to go, and F1 was pretty much laughed at in every form of media around… that the meeting where they voted to bring the old format back was a sign of perhaps realising, “This is getting a bit silly, we really need to smarten up and start getting this thing back on the rails.”

    But alas, it appears there might actually be no peak. It might just be that no matter how idiotic things get, there’s always a way (and a will) to reach for that next level.

  23. I believe it was Albert Einstein who said a sign of true madness was keep doing the same thing expecting a different outcome ! Well Joe..you mention the scientific method…basically you test reality against the theory and if they don’t match you change the theory to fit. However, clearly here you change reality to fit the theory ! Only bankers usually adopt this system ..it led to the financial meltdown of 2008. So…the folks “running” F1 are either really stupid and have learned nothing or…they are deliberately destroying its brand value in order to buy it back at a knockdown price. Um.. Who could possibly want to do that ?

  24. As a point of interest Joe, do you know who carries the FIAs 6 votes when Todt is not around? Would it be Charlie by any chance?

    The man who came up with the dumb compromise format?

    I would have liked to see them try the added time ballast by WDC position, it would probably give the sort of start to a race we had in Melbourne, by turn 3. Pole became 6th, 2nd became 3rd, 3rd became 1st etc.

    It made for an interesting race without materially upsetting the natural outcome.

      1. … But perhaps JT has allowed him to become a loose cannon? Lewis seems pretty peeved by him.

        It just seems so very odd that if Bernie and FIA say the want an alternative engine (12 votes) it gets voted down and Bernie and team managers say they don’t want to continue with dumbest qualifying format, they get voted down.

        Something smells very badly, as usual, in F1 these days

        1. Rodger, I believe the problem is in order to change anything mid-season, it needs 100% unanimity – one dissenting voice (in this case, Force India?) scuppers the entire thing.

          Changes for following seasons just require a majority vote. The issue is they rushed the qualifying change through ahead of the season start, so only needed majority and now they’re stuck with it if someone is playing a game.

  25. The 2015 qualifying system was perfect cliffhanging TV. We frequently didn’t know who was getting Pole until the last car had crossed the finishing line. I’ve lost count of the number of times I have watched a pair or trio of drivers on the final lap all on the very edge, battling to be No 1. We’ve seen two great drivers, Hamilton and Vettel showing their single lap abilities over the last 5 years or so.
    F1 is not stock car racing, it doesn’t need to create artificial incidents to making the racing better. The solution to better racing, with more overtaking is acknowledged by all, cut back on the aero. Stop the cars sticking to the track and allow them to get closer to each other. I would even suggest they made the brakes less efficient, in the hope we might see the days of outbraking return. If the manufacturers want F1 to be relevant to road cars, dump the aero, which doesn’t feature on the cars the public buy.
    If that were to happen, we’d soon stop hearing complaints about the lack of exhaust noise, etc, etc.

  26. My understanding is that Jean Todt won the FIA President election first time because he had done a good job running motor sport activities at Peugeot and Ferrari. Todt had two feet on the ground and had managed successful teams. He knew how to negotiate with executive and oversight boards in large organisations. He found the money and put the right people in place to build race and rally cars. He was involved in regulation change.

    In theory, these are transferrable skills to the FIA President role. But only in theory, because we have not seen them in practice. And by being French and having such a long, varied career, Todt was acceptable in spite of his prominent job at Ferrari.

    The role of international road safety campaigner requires different personal attributes. Nobody will ever mistake Jean Todt for Ralph Nader (although it is great when motor sport personalities consider road safety).

    Jean Todt’s best friends need to remind him why FIA members elected him. They need to help him find somebody else to run the road safety campaigns.

      1. “Todt won the election because Max and Bernie supported him.”

        It’s funny ain’t it, that the failed FIA Presidential candidate, Ari Vaatanen had political nous. Ari was a minor politician, a conservative, and had he been elected…

        …it couldn’t have been worse.

  27. I am glad to see how angry you are Joe I had thought you were just sad, it now matches my own state. I was horrified when you mentioned Mosley’s name and happier when you added a corrective. When he “won” the FIA and was shown in his flash Brechtesgarden Chelsea apartment ( joined soon after by the Mafia’s official representative ) where he smugly announced he would not be taking a salary I knew there was skulduggery in the offing.
    For those who believe the midget is responsible for the “wellbeing” of F1 they should know I snuck away from school after my O levels in 1958 to watch Peter Collins stroll to victory along with in excess of 100,000 others ( ordinary folk mostly ). He sadly died shortly after at the Nurburgring, for that was how things were in those days. Nor was BE responsible for the safety campaign, that was started some 10 years later by Louis Stanley and Jackie Stewart against considerable opposition. As with most other sport TV has been responsible for the huge growth in popularity which would have happened anyway without the money grubbing dictator’s efforts which should never ever have been permitted.
    Please keep up your tirade you are no longer a lone voice, which I believe was the case when your very mild criticism was published in Autosport those many years ago and for which I always believed you were leant upon. Most of the authoritative commentators are now in the campaign that hopefully, if sustained, will have the desired result. Todt has shown himself to be a waste of time, there will be blood and since no obvious successor has been permitted there will be a vacuum but wholesale change is now absolutely necessary. We need to find a benevolent strongman and soon.

  28. The new qualifying system is fundamentally flawed. The teams did one run at the start of the sessions and then had precious little time to make any changes and get another hot lap in before time ran out. And that’s at Melbourne with a 1:25-ish lap time. Imagine what a complete farce it’d be at Spa where it’s a 1:48-ish lap time and around 2 minutes on the in and out laps. They’ll be lucky to do one run in any of the sessions.

    Apparently the geniuses in charge of the rules can’t see that. We’re all doomed!

  29. I for one will not be watching qualifying until it is changed back to the previous format. I feel this is my only way to express my displeasure with the current governance of F1. It is a sad day.

    1. I’m going to watch it because I wonder just how stupid it will be…………….and I’m a curious person. I agree with you Chad; I still have to watch in horror, like seeing a bad accident.

  30. I’d put Gerhard Berger in complete charge of F1. He’s a very capable and intelligent man and doesn’t take any sh*t.

    1. One might describe the bloke who runs F1 today using those expressions. And it doesn’t work.

      F1 needs somebody with the charisma of Damon Hill, someone who does not have a strong brand association and who cares about F1. The job role has to be somebody who cannot be bribed; too rich to accept or too proud to be compromised. Somebody with Hills’ balls.

      1. “Somebody with Hills’ balls.”

        I suspect Damon Hill might have an objection to someone having his balls, even if they are somehow employing them in the repair of F1.

  31. Any chance of the teams or drivers getting together and going on strike until Bernie and Todt are removed?

    Well obviously not, but its about the only thing that might get those two incompetent fools from ruining this sport any further. I despair.

    Those of you moaning about people getting worked up about this and negativity around the sport are missing the point – these are just the latest examples of the constant incompetence around the governance of the sport. Yes, races can still be occasionally good, but the whole thing could be millions of times better if the thing was run even semi-sensibly – starting with getting the aero regulations right in 2017 to allow cars to actually follow each other. That is the problem, not the gimmicky rules and other nonsense Bernie keeps spouting.

    Nothing will improve with Ecclestone and Todt in charge. They need removing as soon as possible. If you don’t think this is the case you’re just sticking your head in the sand. Obviously Bernie doesn’t give two hoots about what the fans think, but maybe, just maybe the teams will see all the negativity at the moment and try and get rid of them – very wishful thinking I know, but that’s the only chance we have of rescuing the sport. We can’t sit back and accept the crazy, out of touch, greedy nonsense the current lot in charge are serving up any longer. We just can’t.

    1. If the teams don’t run without force majeure circumstances, they will be in breach of their contracts with FOM and will likely immediately lose all access to their TV money – Bernie’s like that.

      I know the teams can officially miss two consecutive sessions, but that likely doesn’t cover what amounts to industrial action.

    1. Not so, if want to see competence and action (tho for ill) wait til little-heart reads Dr. Hartstein’s latest… maybe he will try harder to ruin a life the second time around.

  32. Fair enough Joe, you know the players better than most. Who would you put in charge? Would it be one person or more than one?

    1. There is no one in charge in F1. It is a ship without a captain and with a gunfight developing on the bridge

  33. Formula One under Ecclestone
    Is run rather Hyde-and-Jeckal-some
    But taking the wonga
    Don’t make the sport stronger
    And for the spectators, it wrecks the fun

  34. Motorsportcom is reporting that McLaren & Red Bull rejected proposals for amending elimination qualifying…they want to revert to the 2015 rules & before. Because of this no option remained but to extend the new rules to Bahrain. And so we are stuck with an absurdity which is F1 qualifying 2016. Balls? That would be when the 22 drivers stood up and said they refuse to race under these absurd conditions. What would that lead us to? Replacement drivers like we’ve had in the NFL in America? How long did that last until the Powers That Be caved?? The drivers are the key. If they weren’t we would have driverless cars in a soul-less series very few watched. The key is the drivers. Without them there is…nothing. How about standing up for what you believe in for a change!

  35. Everyone on this blog is (almost) certainly a massive / life long fan of F1, but just look at how much negativity is being expressed about the current state of F1. That should raise alarm bells if your strongest fans are losing faith.

    Normal people are not interested in F1 and it has fallen off the public radar, add Pay TV and restricted free to air viewing and you can see the whole thing disappearing up it’s own highly complex / over priced intake manifold In the next few years.

    As a diehard fan I will never subscribe to Sky F1 because the money is going to the wrong people,a bunch of greedy money grabbing w##k##s who give nothing back to the sport and are bleeding the circuit owners dry.

    Watch some of the YouTube footage of the airhead Ecclestone daughters to see where your subscription dollar ends up ( plus the Cvc blood suckers).

  36. I suspect that the whole qualifying debacle has been manufactured by the teams solely to embarrass a certain group of people and send a shot across their bows and perhaps make them realise that they may control the purse strings, but they certainly don’t control the players, the fans or the future.

  37. Due to circumstances I’m not up to date with all the news but I gather the FIA has said “We’ll give it a second chance. Maybe it’ll be better”.

    I’d be happy for them to give it another shot if I knew why. Perhaps the FIA could try an ancient skill called ‘communication’? Explain properly what happened in Melb, although I reckon that is obvious. And! explain in detail why it is worth trying again. What will be different.

    Since Mad Max left the FIA I reckon another Max, Maxwell Smart has taken over their media unit and has been using the cone of silence.

  38. If people can’t see how poor the governance in F1 is, they are blind. Bernie is no angel, but at least he faces the fire. Todt is busy on a deserted island with a volleyball called Wilson.

    So I gather re-election for Todt will be in 18 months. Supposing he is ousted, would there be anything the incumbent could do to change any of the governance process with regard to the strategy group? I thought that was locked in thanks to a hefty amount of money slung JT’s way?

    1. BCE would lobby for a candidate more… amiable to his way of thinking.

      Todt’s nomination by Mosley and BCE was essentially a template for the Republican/Trump clusterf*ck in US politics – they attempted to install someone they felt they could control but it all went wrong.

  39. In the late 19th century, Li-hung-chang, a Viceroy and great political boss in China who was the power behind the throne and controlled vast armies, ports, He was deadly as he was cunning. Often he was denounced or stripped of his rank by various Emperors but always can back to regain power. He used assassination, forgery, bribery and political favors to sow the seeds of distrust and discord to have his enemies feast on one another as he was entreated by each successive administration to restore order as China was impotent otherwise. He lived a very long time life and was richer and wielded more power than any man in the country. Sound familiar?

    I’d suggest there is corollary here.

    Bernie Ecclestone as Joe suggested in a recent post is up to something, a diversion tactic most likely to keep all the moving parts of F1 off balance, he hates the new engine Formula he says though he lobbied for it, he suggests new a qualy format to make the “show” more fun and interesting then says maybe not, he denigrates his own show and says it’s boring. His bosses if you can call them that- CVC Capital, have given him carte blanche to make deals, secret deals often with dodgy governments for new venues, CVC barely hiccuped with he paid (100,000,000 pounds sterling) to the German judiciary for his get out jail free card- yes, it does seem like Monopoly $ to him, for bribing a German banker to under sell rights usage shares to a F1 buyer of his liking- who? CVC of course.

    As they say if things are rotten it’s usual at the head. Bernie has purposely made the manufactures confused and angry- RedBull and Maclaren couldn’t agree on getting rid of the new bad qualy format, CVC has to divest soon, no buyer and or share offering is in the offing as Bernie had swore was going to happen, Jean Todt is truly impotent and was put there by Max Mosely and Bernie as a weak prince on purpose. Bernie knows where all the bodies are buried, drafted all the secret deals and has more money than most of the GDP of Africa combined. Chaos, misdirection and misinformation are his weapons of choice. He’ll wait till the “show” is almost in flames, then when CVC is done with their pump and dump, Bernie will buy the whole shebang on the cheap guarenteeing he will be Emperor for Life. He is not a benelovent dictator or a white knight coming in to save Formula One. He used CVC for his own pursuits like everything and everyone else.

    Absolute power corrupts absolutely.

  40. yulzari’s rosey glasses reflected:

    “I now find that I look back at Jean-Marie Balestre with pleasant nostalgia………….”

    You may remember differently if you were keen on Sports Prototype which, as F1 became a bit dull in the 80s, it began to threaten F1 as the motorsport of choice for the discerning fan.


    Cars that were becoming *almost* as fast as F1 cars … but running an entire F1 season over a single race for the 24 hour races.

    Several constructors in the game (Porsche, Ferrari, Jaguar, Nissan, Mazda, Toyota, Aston Martin, Audi, Peugeot, Mercedes, Ford, McLaren … ).

    An incredible mix with different categories racing at the same time.

    Mixed engine technologies … notably Mazda’s (victorious) whining/screaming rotary.

    Much higher top speeds at Le Mans, with the Peugeot hitting 252mph during the race (although my fading memory recalls the Nissan hitting 256mph? in qualifying … Joe doubtless recalls correctly).

    A wonderful festival atmosphere, that sadly is mostly long gone from F1, with a couple of notable exceptions.


    So what went wrong?

    1/ FIA deciding that Sports Prototype was getting too close to the top of the sport and threatening F1, which they thought should be the pinnacle … presumably because they could control it and therefore squeeze more money out of it … Bernie would have been all over that.

    2/ TV rights and *Balèstre* trying to squeeze more money from the sport and in particular the ACO. When that didn’t work, 2 months prior to that year’s Le Mans race, he declared that the track did not conform to the legislation because it had a straight longer than 2km and therefore the race would have to be cancelled. Amazingly Le Sarthe got their act together in an incredibly short time (French beaurocracy can be agonisingly slow … but very fast when the pressure is on) and the famous 6km ‘Ligne Droite de Hunaudières’ (Mulsanne Straight) was split into 3 bits, with 2 roundabouts being built into what is a Départementale (arterial) country road.

    So the race went ahead and in the end all that Balèstre managed to acheive was to remove one of the most amazing and legendary spectacles from the world of motorsport and simultaneously end one of the great technical challenges. The long-tail was gone.

    Why did this happen? Greed. I rejoiced when he was replaced my Max and Bernie’s cosy agreement, although they went on to immasculate the series themselves.

    If only current F1 had become like the Sports Protoype series of the late 80s, instead of a cash cow for the odious, things would be much more fun for the motorsport enthusiast today. Looking back, that old series sounds like a dream scenario for F1.

    (I was unexpectedly fortunate to have witnessed the very last occurance of the entire Mulsanne Straight being used during the race. At 3am, crouched behind a big strong tree, 4 or 5 feet from the armco, right by the famous ‘kink’ (flat only for the brave) in total darkness (being France … incredibly all the Gendarmes had gone home to bed) and discovering that I couldn’t turn my head quickly enough to follow the cars as they screamed past. The rumble of the Aston’s V8 and whine of the Mazda’s rotary meant you knew it was them hurtling down the road towards you, even before you could see them).

    I expect Joe can correct my memory’s errors.

  41. Joe, an interesting analysis. Sounds crazy, but there aren’t many arguments as plausible. But isn’t there a problem for the teams that voted so cynically? Because if voting records are revealed then they will all be shown as having vote for the idea and thus they can be said to have supported the idea. Wouldn’t a no vote have been a better way to proceed?

  42. Do we know who on the Strategy Group created the (very) shortlist of choices for the other members to vote upon? There is likely to be a very small number, most likely 1 person, who decided this, and knowing who this is might give an indication of their ulterior motives.

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