Last weekend, the President of the FIA, Mr Max Mosley, paid a visit to Donington Park, Great Britain, where the fifth LG Super Racing Weekend of the season was being held. During a busy day, in which he visited the grid and paddock, as well as holding meetings with various representatives of the Championships and the Manufacturers present, he found time to talk to a number of the journalists who regularly attend the events.
Transcript of the press briefing with FIA President Max Mosley and journalists from the FIA GT and European Touring Car Championship, Donington, Saturday June 28th 2003.
Q: Is this your first visit to the LG Super Racing Weekend ? What do you think of it so far ?
Max Mosley: Yes, this is my first visit. The thing that impresses is the size and scale of the operation. It is much bigger and more impressive than I imagined it would be. It seems to be a very nice atmosphere. Excellent !
Q: What is your view on the possible return of manufacturers to the FIA GT Championship ?
Max Mosley: "My personal view is very clear. It is absolutely essential to keep the costs of GT racing down to a level where a wealthy individual can afford to go racing, or to pay for a team to go racing. If we move away from that it would probably be disastrous. As far as the manufacturers are concerned, I think big manufacturers should be encouraged to come in on the basis that they sell cars to competitors at a sensible price, but still do so profitably. I think it is up to us to arrange the regulations so that this becomes possible. The moment any manufacturer comes in and starts spending a lot of money, they will start to destroy the championship. And we must prevent this happening."
Q: How can you prevent this ?
Max Mosley: By having suitable regulations. To take the very simplest thing, if you say to a manufacturer, there is absolutely no point spending a lot of money developing a car that will beat everybody else, because if you do, we will handicap it to the point that it no longer beats everybody else, so you would be better off spending that same money developing your cars in a way that enables you to sell them to ordinary private individuals. If you come with a factory team, we will make sure that it is not able simply to dominate because you have greater resources."
Q: So you are relying heavily on a punishment factor in the regulations ?
Max Mosley: "Essentially, yes. In the end you either have some form of handicap, or it becomes a money spending competition. And what you don't want is a money spending competition. There is always only one winner and everyone else as the losers."
Q: I reckon the manufacturers would disagree with you --
Max Mosley: "That depends who you talk to--you see, the man running the competition departments wants the biggest possible competition department and the biggest possible budget. But the man running the company wants to be present in motorsport with a good prospect of success and minimum expenditure. So the man at the head of the company would have the same view as us. He would like to win now and again, he would like to sell cars, he would like his competition department to be a profit centre and still to promote his image racing. If we arrange things properly, this should be possible."
"F1 is the only form of racing which has managed to increase its income to keep up more or less with expenditure, and even F1 hasn't really done that because we have lost people off the back of the grid steadily over the past few years. But look at what happens when you get a new formula in other forms of racing. If it's a failure, it disappears. If it's a success, people start coming in from the manufacturers. They start spending money, then it becomes too expensive, then it fails. Then someone starts a new formula and you repeat the process. At a certain point it is time to stop doing the same thing over and over again and putting one series after another out of business by allowing people to spend too much money. I think it is the responsibility of the governing body to allow people to go racing at reasonable costs and not to allow anyone to come in and start increasing costs to the point that you start losing teams.
Q: Do you agree with Stephane Ratel's ideas on allowing manufacturers to come in only following certain guidelines ?
Max Mosley: "I wouldn't like to express an opinion on the best way to do it, there are a lot of different ways to keep the costs under control, but I absolutely agree with the principle. No manufacturer should be allowed to come in and wreck the series by spending too much money."
Q : To prevent this, would you rather deal with the chairman of the company rather than the sporting director, to have the correct approach in the company from the word go ?
Max Mosley: "It would be nice, but of course, the CEO of these companies have a few other things to worry about than motorsport. But the principle should be agreed, and every time now that I meet the Chairman of one of these big companies, which is quite often, I try to pass the message that they should keep the competition department expenditure under control. If people want unlimited technology, unlimited expenditure, they can go Formula One. In other formulae, there is simply not enough money. Indeed there is not enough money to pay for 24 Formula One cars - witness the fact that we only have 20 - so how could there be enough money to pay for a full field of GT or Sportscars if they are spending money on the same basis?
Q : There are still two manufacturers, involved in Formula One, who spend a fortune in other racing series, one with a Championship in Germany, one who intends to come here --
Max Mosley: "If anybody wants to come into GT or the ETCC to spend a lot of money, these are FIA Championships and we can take steps to stop them spending too much money. If they have their national championships, that's a matter for the national sporting authority.
Q: Do you think you also need a minimum number of manufacturers to take part ?
Max Mosley: "I don't think we need a minimum number. I think what we need to do is sit down with each car manufacturer and say, we would very much like you in our GT or Touring Car Championship, but we would like your competition department to be a profit centre, to operate profitably. And we are prepared to discuss with you all the means of doing this. The manufactures should be there with cars that private entrants can afford to buy and race. There are several ways that could be achieved. We're flexible. But the only thing we are not flexible about, is that we won't have people coming in and spending huge amounts of money with a factory team.
Q: So you are not going to enforce the same technical regulations as the ETCC, where at least 3 car makers were required to take part in the Championship ?
Max Mosley: "For a World Championship, there are minimum requirements. For other Championships, this is to be discussed by the relevant Commission. Talking globally, we are very flexible about how these things are achieved. But one very efficient way of doing it is how the ETCC operates, but it's not the only way. And you could argue that the cars in the European Touring Car Championship are already probably too expensive. You could have the same thing for less money. It's a pity to spend money unnecessarily, because you reduce the number of competitors."
Q: Where do see money being spent unnecessarily in the touring cars ?
Max Mosley: "The technology is probably higher than it needs be, the modifications are possibly greater than they need be. They are very high-tech, expensive cars. You can have very good racing -- Don't get me wrong, I am not saying there is suddenly going to be some great change, but it's already probably gone a bit too far. And we need to be very vigilant. Because if you say to an engineer: modify this car and make it win races, he will do whatever he can within the regulations. And that can be expensive, and it is not always in everyone's best interests that that money is spent. To take rally cars for example, the electronics on the rally cars cost huge amounts of money. The public gets no benefit, no enjoyment from that, the drivers would be just as good in a car without those additional things. What's the point of spending that money ? It brings nothing to anybody. And this is how I see things. Formula One, you have to be more flexible, that is a very high-technology operation. Even there we try to keep it under control. But in things like GT racing, touring car racing, it is crazy to allow huge and unlimited expenditure.
Q: I was informed by Ford that they lodged an attempt to get some electronics banned from rally cars. Is there any progress on that ?
Max Mosley: "The potential for electronics in rally cars is at least as great as in Formula One. And electronics has been a problem in Formula One. And sometimes it is good to tread on the egg and then you don't end up chasing the chicken. And so we need to stop it quickly. However, at the moment we are concentrating on the format of the event, which will make a big change."
Q : Do you see the touring cars becoming a World Championship in the future ?
Max Mosley: "It's possible, if certain conditions are fulfilled. The main one is that is has to be on at least three continents and have a genuine world calendar. Any of the FIA Championships have the potential to become a World Championship. But we have very stringent minimum requirements because we don't want to give the title 'World Championship' unless it is genuinely warranted. The main requirement is at least three continents, at least four manufacturers if it is a manufacturers Championship, and that the standard of the competition and the presentation of the Championship is at the highest level.
Q: Would being a World Championship put the costs up considerably ?
Max Mosley: "Not necessarily. The transport costs can be very high, but they need not necessarily be huge if you are properly organised. And again, with the WRC, because they have reconnaissance cars, and gravel cars, and so on, they have to go by boat. But if you do away with the reconnaissance cars, and the gravel cars, then suddenly you can go by air for the same cost. And there you are talking about relatively modest amounts of money for the same budget. You have to keep the weight down. If they insist on taking vast amounts of equipment it gets very expensive. But to fly a racing car, a touring car, from Europe to Japan is not hugely expensive, it's all the equipment that goes with it."
Q: You have an international federation, but we have national federations, which sometimes enforce national regulations which do not match the FIA Regulations. This is a problem to develop a World Championship.
Max Mosley: "It has always been traditional with the FIA is that each national sporting authority is sovereign in its territory. They are the boss in their country. The function of the FIA has always been to agree the international rules. The FIA is the forum in which the International rules are agreed. But nothing prevents the national authority in a country having their own rules in any area. The most obvious example is the United States, which is so big that they have some important National series, where they make the rules themselves, and we are only concerned if those series become international. But there is nothing we can do about that, we are not concerned with national racing, only international racing.
Q: Do you see this as a problem when developing international series ?
Max Mosley : "No I don't, because we have international series, and people either enter them or they don't, and they either run races or they don't, and if someone wants a national series of a similar size, that's a matter for them.
Q: With common technical regulations, it might seem an advantage for the exchange of cars between the national and the international or world Championships.
Max Mosley: "It is always better to have the same regulations used nationally and internationally, apart from anything else, at the end of the season, the top teams can sell their cars to national teams. But we have no right to say to the national authorities what they do or don't do. They must decide whether to follow the international rules. All we do is make those international rules, that is all we can do.
Q: What do you think about the idea to organise also a diesel European championship ?
Max Mosley: "Absolutely no reason not to. There is a lot to be said for diesel anyway, just from a safety point of view, as the fuel is safer. But if somebody has a good proposal, then why not ? Usually things like that start at the national level, and then more than one country wants to do it, and we become involved. That is usually the sequence of event. But we want to encourage any form of racing, as long as it's safe, as safe as possible, and it's fair, properly run. We are here to promote racing, not to stop it.
Q: Where do you see Sportscar racing in two or three years time ? Do you see it being promoted on a similar level to, say, the World Rally Championship ?
Max Mosley: "GT cars, I can see a big future there because a lot of manufacturers have cars that could sensibly be raced. The so-called Supercars and very high performance road cars, I think it is quite difficult to understand why these spectacular cars do not appear on the race-track. And I think we will find the means and the name in those cars to race, particularly if the manufacturers concerned would like to see them racing. Sportscar is a little bit different, because there has been this tendency to call sportscars Prototypes, and they are not prototypes and they have not been prototypes for forty or fifty years. Nobody races their prototypes these days. These are not prototypes, they are two-seater racing cars. There is obviously scope for two-seater racing cars, it is one of the great traditions, but whether they should be racing cars like single-seaters, made by small, specialist companies, or should be manufacturers cars, this is obviously the question. In my opinion, the natural constructors of those cars are the small specialist manufacturers, because basically they are racing cars, they have nothing to do with the road, and it is misleading to call them prototypes. Whereas the GT cars, super road cars, they are genuinely built for sale on the road, and they ought to be racing with the minimum necessary adaptations and expenditure to make them safe and suitable for racing. And not with huge sums of money spent on them to make them much faster, because they are quite fast already.
Q: So there is really no need for the prototype category -- it should be F1 or nothing.?
Max Mosley: "I wouldn't say that. I think there is scope for two-seater racing cars, but recognising that they are two-seater racing cars, made by small specialist manufacturers. The likes of Dallara, Lola, Reynard - those sort of companies. You could, I imagine, have open two seater road cars built by the major manufacturers racing, but that is not what anyone does at the moment. But it is not up to us to say what anyone should or shouldn't race. It's up to us to say that is has to be properly run. And then it's up to the public. But certainly there is scope for GT racing."
Q: What level of promotion would the FIA give to the GT Championship with regards to Maserati, Aston Martin and so on joining the Championship ?
Max Mosley: "We do not promote. We make the rules and we try to make sure it is run properly. Promotion is the function of the promoter of the series. But we would certainly be very much in favour and would support a Championship involving those sorts of cars and would do our best to agree with the manufacturers and others concerned what the regulations should be with a view to making sure that it is economic and can be run at a sensible cost."
Q: If the function of the FIA is to promote all the categories, why is it not possible for a small percent of the income from F1 to be distributed to the other series ?
Max Mosley: "This is exactly what happens. At the moment, we are running every category except Formula One at a loss. The FIA last year, and the year before, had a deficit of two and a half million euros, which is a lot in relation to the turnover. Because we are running them at a loss we are going to have to adjust some of the calendar fees and other charges to balance that out. Formula One has been subsidising the rest of motorsport for at least ten years now, but it doesn't make much difference because the sums of money needed are huge."