Formula One: On and off track - week 4

Formula One: On and off track - week 4

Diffuser ban, FIA and FOTA changes, Points system, and Nyck de Vries This time we begin our story with last week's announcement that the Formula One technical directors, together with the FIA, have agreed to ban the double diffuser from 2011 ...


Diffuser ban, FIA and FOTA changes, Points system, and Nyck de Vries

This time we begin our story with last week's announcement that the Formula One technical directors, together with the FIA, have agreed to ban the double diffuser from 2011 onwards. Last year Williams, Brawn GP and Toyota introduced the double diffuser, which proved to be the key to the early success of the Brawn GP team. The other teams claimed the diffuser was illegal, but on April 15, 2009, the FIA Court of Appeal ruled the diffuser was legal, and therefore the other teams had no other option than to also develop their own version of the diffuser. It is believed that the double diffuser ban, together with the new aerodynamic 2009 rule changes, will improve overtaking, and this time without making any shortcuts, like Bernie Ecclestone suggested last week.

Brawn GP diffusor.
Photo by xpb.cc.

And more news about the FOTA and FIA has emerged. The sport's governing body announced Alan Donnelly, until now chairman of the Formula One race stewards, will no longer be active in this function. Donnelly, who was responsible for the interaction between race control and race stewards, will get another function within the FIA organization. Donnelly became a controversial figure because of his involvement in the Manor/Virgin racing team, which indicated there could be a conflict of interests, and the FOTA had demanded his resignation. Jean Todt promised during his 2009 presidential election campaign he would improve the by many detested inconsistent decision making by the FIA stewards, and removing Donnelly from his function seems a step in the right direction.

Most notable about freshly elected FIA president Jean Todt sofar is the fact that he hasn't said a word to the media from the day he was elected. No comments, no interviews, no press releases, no opinions about the crash- gate scandal, or the FIA appeal against the decision of a French court to overturn Briatiore's life-time ban, no comments on the prospects of the new teams in 2010, we have heard nothing at all, not one word. But in fact, that was also what he promised in his campaign, he would not be directly involved in Formula One or any other FIA championship, but instead said he would appoint a Formula One commissioner, but until now the name of that commissioner has not been revealed.

The FOTA announced they have elected McLaren team principal Martin Whitmarsh as successor of FOTA chairman Luca di Montezemolo. Unfortunately Whitmarsh didn't have good news for us, the proposed 2010 joint team launch, which would be organized by the FOTA at the circuit of Valencia, has been abandoned, according to Whitmarsh because not all teams were ready to launch their car at the end of January. Or is it possible some of the bigger teams and their sponsors don't want to share the media attention with the smaller teams? Whatever it is, Whitmarsh said the FOTA was still examining the possibility for a joint team launch in 2011.

Whitmarsh also said the FOTA is in no hurry to bring changes to Formula One, but only six weeks before the first race in Bahrain, the FOTA and FIA have announced a tweak to the new points system, the wish of the teams was to create a bigger gap between the first and second place, and a bigger gap between the last four positions. So, from last year's system of 10-8-6-5-4- 3-2-1 for the first 8 positions, we went to the 'Moto GP' distribution of 25-20-15-10-8-6-5-3-2-1 for the first ten places, which was again changed to the 25-18-15-12-10-8-6-4-2-1 distribution of points for the first ten positions. I would recommend keeping a calculator next to your TV remote control when you watch a Grand Prix this season.

And another last minute change, although not yet approved by the FIA, the top ten of Saturday's qualifying will have to start the race on the same tyres they have used during Q3, hoping it will add an extra strategic element which will improve the show. FIA approval is said to be a mere 'formality'.

There are of course many pros and cons concerning this tweak, some teams will opt for using tyres that are relatively slow during qualification, but faster and more consistent during the first part of the race, but a team could also decide to use the quicker tyres to get a good grid position, and hope the performance of the tyres won't drop very quickly during the first part of the race. But the problem will be that the fans still won't be able to see who is really the fasted driver during the last qualifying session, because teams will already start to execute their race strategy during qualifying, which in this case means the race actually starts on Saturday, and not on Sunday.

German magazine Auto, Motor und Sport reported South African Tony Texeira will invest EUR20 million in the Campos Meta team, which apparently already has financial troubles. A1GP boss Texeira would like to see the current A1GP champion Adam Carroll take the second race seat next to Bruno Senna. And with the Serbian Stefan GP team lurking around the corner, this could be the way to secure the position of the Campos Meta team for 2010.

If the FIA agrees and Texeira moves his money from A1GP to Campos Meta, it surely also means we will have seen the last of the A1GP series. A pity, because many young drivers were able to show what they are made of in A1GP, Nico H?lkenberg who now sealed a contract with Williams, made his name in A1GP.

One of the most remarkable announcements last week came from McLaren, 14-year old Dutch karting Boy Wonder Nyck de Vries has signed a contract with the McLaren team and will be participating in their young driver development programme. Nyck will be following the footsteps of Lewis Hamilton. Hamilton's father Anthony will support the young Dutchman. Anthony Hamilton: "Nyck is an extremely promising youngster, with the right level of support, we can take his career to the highest level. We believe this is a very exciting and dynamic partnership."

Nyck de Vries has been active in karting since 2000, clinched 2 world titles in 2008, and last year won three titles: the World Series Karting KF3, the European Series Karting KF3 and the Deutsche Kart Meisterschaft KF3. The youngster has already paid a visit to the McLaren Technology Centre, and told it was a fantastic experience, and is grateful for the opportunities McLaren offers him. He will be working with Italian Dino Chiesa, who also coached Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg. The objective is to take de Vries to Formula 1 in the near future, and that is of course something all young drivers dream of.

Join us again next week for the weekly "Formula One: On and off track talk".


See also: Formula One: On and off track talk - week 3

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About this article
Series General , Formula 1
Drivers Luca di Montezemolo , Lewis Hamilton , Nico Rosberg , Adam Carroll , Bruno Senna , Jean Todt
Teams Williams , Brawn GP