Press conference with FIA President Max Mosley

RALLY DE PORTUGAL Press Conference Saturday 4 April Present: Max Mosley, FIA President Carlos Barbosa, ACP President Morrie Chandler, World Rally Championship Commission President Max Mosley: There are two things I would like to say. The ...

Press Conference
Saturday 4 April

Max Mosley, FIA President
Carlos Barbosa, ACP President
Morrie Chandler, World Rally Championship Commission President

Max Mosley: There are two things I would like to say. The Portuguese Rally we have here is exceptionally successful from the FIA's point of view. Everyone taking part seems to be delighted and of course the environment and the place is perfect. All the reports we've had, including the drivers and the co-drivers, are enthusiastic so it's a very big success and a big improvement on a lot of other rallies, but also a big step forward from the last World Championship (rally) here. The second thing I would like to say is we're delighted with the success so far of the Pirelli young driver programme. It's really very pleasing to see people coming into the WRC who would otherwise not have an opportunity to do so, and the example of that I think will now be followed in other forms of motorsport. It's really something we've wanted to do for a long time; to open the sport up. We need inexpensive cars available to young drivers even in the WRC because we have room for them now, and that way we may be able to cast the net wider. The biggest single problem in motorsport is the difficulty and the expense of getting in. The Pirelli scheme is an example of how that problem can be overcome and it's something we'll pick up and take on in various other forms of motorsport.

Q: Martin Holmes, Martin Holmes Rallying, UK

Can you help us understand the position of the promoter? To what extent is the work of the promoter to take away the authority of running the WRC from the FIA, or to what extent is it only advisory?

MM: The promoter will propose the calendar and then it's for the World Council to decide, or not, whether to accept that calendar. So the promoter is in a situation analogous to that of Bernie Ecclestone in Formula One, except that the degree to which they can influence the calendar is perhaps slightly less. The first proposal will be from the promoter.

Q: Nick Garton, The Guardian, UK

Are you happy with Super 2000 and is there any provision for alternative fuels and energies?

MM: I very much support the idea the car should be a Super 2000 car with just exterior modifications. There was a lot of discussion about whether there should be a difference with the kit on the engine. That would have been very expensive, whatever people may say, so in the end the decision was taken not to do that. The second thing that came up quite recently was whether the World Rally Cars should remain at 8500 rpm and the other cars reduced to 8000 rpm. When we thought about that it was quite obviously not the thing to do because it would cost a lot of money to retune engines for 8000 rpm. The next difficulty will be to ensure the manufacturers' cars with the 8500 rpm are really the same as Super 2000 and the only difference is the bodywork. This we intend to do. The biggest single problem for the WRC is cost and we do not want to see the cost increasing.

We're obviously just starting with serious efforts on the environment in Formula One. The danger is people get carried away with new ideas for environmentally-friendly motorsport, the most obvious one being biofuel. We now all understand the first generation biofuels are actually a negative in that what you're effectively doing is taking food away from people. The source of the first generation biofuels is the same as food, and when you've got one billion people in the world who don't have enough to eat it's really not a good thing to do. Second generation biofuels, perhaps, but the approach we have taken in Formula One - and we intend to take in the future in the WRC - is to try to encourage efficient use of energy rather than to dictate which source of energy it should be. Because if you can get more work from a given quantity of energy (ie fuel), then that's precisely the direction the car industry is going and needs to go. The KERS system is an example of that. Other examples are the recovery of energy from exhausts and even from the cooling system, both of which will come into Formula One in 2013. The KERS system is an obvious thing that needs doing because anybody can see that to waste the energy you have in a car when it is moving by simply turning it into heat and putting it into the atmosphere is completely wasteful. If the technology exists to recover and re-use energy then obviously we should do that. It doesn't matter if the car is an electric car, a hydrogen car, runs on biofuel or second generation biofuel. At the moment almost every car on the road and certainly every car on the rally, whenever they put the brake on that energy is lost. To re-use the energy again and again is clearly a massive step forward. We see this with some road cars such as the Toyota Prius as the obvious example. But those cars don't absorb all the energy when you put the brake on, certainly not if you brake at all hard. Formula One is developing systems that are capable of absorbing all the energy but at the same time very small and very light. The problem with the road cars is the systems tend to be very big and very heavy so that's going in the right direction for the car industry and the road traffic industry generally. That's something we'd like to see coming in to rallies. One of the manufacturers has already produced an example of a car with that technology. But we ought to just see just how it develops in Formula One before we put it in rallies. We don't want to make any mistakes. We've learned a great deal about these systems in the three years they've been coming into Formula One and I think we'll know a lot more in the next six months.

Q: Nick Garton, The Guardian, UK

We've got one driver who has had five major offences found against him by the FIA. Is this an example of the FIA getting more strict in its policing or is this an exceptional case in the driver's behaviour?

MM: We're trying to make sure everybody conducts themselves as they should. But you always have to remember with motorsport generally, and Formula One in particular, that it has all the complexities of any sport when there's one person or people against each other, plus all the mechanical difficulties so it's very complex. Our system isn't perfect but we are doing our utmost to make sure everybody follows the rules. I wouldn't say we're stricter than in the past but maybe we've got better people doing it.

Q: Markus Stier, Rallye Magazin, Germany

Can you explain the benefit of the rotation system?

MM: The purpose is to overcome the fundamental problem we have which is there are probably 20, likely in the future to be 22-24 or even more events that really should be in the World Championship because of the quality of the organisation or the location in the part of the world where they take place, or a combination of those two things. So you then have the difficulty how to fit in, say, 24 top events when it is only possible for the teams to do 12 or 14 events a year. Sixteen, they say, is already too many. So how do we do 24? There are several approaches. For example you can choose what you consider to be the best 14 but then you lose ten events that are of good quality or in places in the world that are desirable to have an event. Or you can say we've got 24 events on the calendar, each team can choose 14 events and not do the other ten. The problem with that is you are allowing the manufacturers to nominate the events, because they could simply get together and say out of those 24, we will do these 14 and ignore the other ten. Or you can rotate, you can say for example, as the current system, every other year for each one. That enables you to have 24 events with 12 taking place each year. Or you could say we will pick, for example, eight of those events to be every year and the remaining six every three years or every four years. Then the trouble is the events you relegate to that second division tend to lose a lot of the momentum and will be at a severe disadvantage compared to the events every year. There may be some other way of doing it, but we don't know what it is if there is one. Nobody has suggested it yet so you have to choose between those various schemes. What happens in Formula One where there are more applications than it is possible to have events then we have effectively a commercial decision so that Bernie (Ecclestone) comes along and proposes an event, and provided it is safe and properly run, and provided we meet the criteria of having at least three continents, then that's fine. But the difficulty with rallies is that you don't have the natural damper on the number of people who can apply that comes in Formula One. Because in Formula One there's no point applying unless you've got a circuit, or can make a circuit. In rallies, provided you've got the police and the army and an embryonic organisation in the country, it would be possible to send a team of experts almost anywhere in the world to run a rally so the potential is much greater. The difficulty is whatever system you choose is wrong or it doesn't work or has problems. It's a question of finding the least-worse option. There may be a brilliant solution but so far nobody has come up with it.

Q: Jose Goncalves, Motor, Portugal

Racing is about speed; don't you think introducing the Super 2000 cars to the WRC will mean the end of the competition. We know Sebastien Loeb won't be racing with the Super 2000 car.

MM: People say these things and I've seen this again and again in different areas. The choice becomes if you don't want to race Super 2000 in rallies then you could run in Formula One, GP2, cross country rallies if you're a professional racing driver. There are certain things that are available so I don't understand the problem. All I know is if you put one of the top drivers in a Super 2000 car he's going to be quicker than one of the other drivers. When you're standing on the side of the road you won't be able to tell the difference so I don't understand the problem.

Q: Daniel Ortelli, AFP, France

Are you in favour of the winter calendar?

MM: I can see strong arguments in favour particularly because we have the two major World Championships and one of them tends to be in the summer, the other might be better in the winter. But I'm fairly neutral about that. I don't have a strong view one way or the other but I think it's an interesting and novel idea. We should wait to hear what the promoter has to say about it.

Q: David Evans, Autosport, UK

Do you still believe rotation has a future because ISC seems to have some disagreement with that and what's the story with Russia and Indonesia?

MM: As far as we're concerned the calendar at the moment is rotation. If ISC want to suggest something different it's obviously open for them to do so. The difficulty is if we're not careful we'll end up with the old system of having a small number of events in Europe and not having new events in other parts of the world. You have to bear in mind if we were to have events in Indonesia, China and India that's half the world's population. And when you go to those countries, it's the biggest sporting event of the year. Not in China because they have Formula One, but in India and Indonesia for the time being it would be, so all these factors have to be taken into account. But one of the good things about asking the promoter to propose the calendar is that they too have to think about the commercial implications. But it gets very difficult when you've got an event in some really interesting, big new country, which is technically inferior to an event you've got in Europe; what do you do? One of the things we have to do is to listen very carefully to the promoter because the one thing we've learned from Formula One is that if the championship is successful commercially, it works. Our job is to run the sport to make sure it's fair, it's as safe as it can be and properly run. The commercial exploitation is somebody else's job, but we have to listen very carefully to what they have to say.

Q: Antonio Rodrigues, O Jogo, Portugal

Yesterday you visited the Algarve track. What do you think about the track and when can we see a Formula One GP there?

MM: The track is enormously impressive. It's a beautiful circuit. It's very original. Interesting because it has significant changes of level and blind corners, parts of the circuits where you would have to commit yourself before you can see where you are going, and that's a feature of a lot of classic European circuits. It's a very remarkable circuit. To answer your second question it would be a matter for them to make a commercial arrangement with Bernie (Ecclestone). The way it works in Formula One is somebody makes a provisional contract with Bernie subject to us approving the circuit from the point of view of safety and organisation and so on. So the first step is to put the commercial arrangement in place. The second step is for us to look at the circuit and the whole organisation. In the case of this circuit it's been inspected, it's a grade one circuit but it's also an outstanding circuit so I think there's no doubt if they made a commercial agreement with Bernie Ecclestone and FOM there wouldn't be the slightest difficulty about putting them on the calendar.

Q: Reiner Kuhn, Motorsport Aktuell, Switzerland

On one hand you speak about future technology in 2013, when the 1.6 turbo-charged engines will come. Is this too late? Everybody is talking about downsizing and smaller engines.

MM: Whatever we do has to fit with the future product range of the manufacturers. It's no good doing something outside of that. We're looking at the moment at a world engine for 2013. That's to say an engine that would work in turbocharged form for F1 and then all the way down to naturally aspirated form for the lesser categories and in a turbocharged or naturally aspirated form for the World Rally Championship. It's very early days. We are doing this in consultation with the manufacturers. In all probability, this will be 2013, that's the timescale which with manufacturers tends to be relatively long. Therefore, if we do something at short notice it could cause problems. We will go to Super 2000 in 2011, and 2013 will be on us before we know it. There's no question of us doing something between now and 2013, it's simply too short a period. What will happen in 2013 if the idea of a world engine really starts to work remains to be seen. What we would like to do is have an engine, take F1 for an example, where the base engine is not the subject of development; it's the peripheral areas which are the subject of the development. An obvious area is KERS, that's very much a peripheral area, also energy recovery from the exhaust and cooling systems, Also elements like direct injection and all sorts of others that we need to discuss with manufacturers. But our basic objective is that the money spent in motorsport on research and development should be relevant and useful to the car industry rather than a highly specialised area which has no relevance to anything else, and if we can - and I'm not sure we can - find a way of combining all forms of motorsport in that system then this would be useful because of the huge sums spent on motorsport. It's not beyond our possibility that those sums could produce something useful for the future - even if it's long time in the future.

Q: Reiner Kuhn, Motorsport Aktuell, Switzerland

Do you talk to some manufacturers who might come?

MM: We're talking about a new engine and we are talking with new manufacturers about that. We're in touch with a number of manufacturers about joining the World Rally Championship. The difficulty at the moment is that there is no surplus money. The only manufacturers coming in are those with a S2000 car. Fortunately, there are quite a number of these -- that's one of the reasons why it is important to have this as the main category of WRC. It's no good having some really exotic category of car because the manufacturers aren't going to like that. Even if the drivers do.

Q: David Evans, Autosport, UK

What about next year? We face the possibility of having no manufacturers next year.

MM: If there are no manufacturers, in the sense of entering the Manufacturers' Championship, it doesn't really matter. In the end, what does matter is the number of makes and we are certainly going to have a number of different makes entering the Championship next year and that's the fundamental thing.

Q: Markus Stier, Rallye Magazin, Germany

People hope, and manufacturers hope, that we reach the peak of the crisis at the end of this year. To start with S2000 in August 2010, if the winter calendar comes, or 2011, isn't this too late? Next year nobody can compete in a S2000 against a current World Rally Car.

MM: That remains to be seen. As far as we're concerned, the cars we want are Super 2000 and there are a lot of them about. With the current crisis, there is a lag: the manufacturers have problems; sales go down then a little later budgets get restricted. When we come out of the crisis, which we hope we will, sales go up, but there's a lag before money comes back to motorsport. The higher the level of motorsport, the longer the lag, because the contracts are in place for longer. That is why Super 2000 is unquestionably the answer, because there are a number of manufacturers who can come in without asking for more money from the board. How we adjust to that remains to be seen. We need to keep our options open. We have a large pool of competition cars in Super 2000 and we need to get them into the WRC, whether they are manufacturers, teams or individuals.

Q: Jose Goncalves, Motor, Portugal

Regarding F1, a public apology is enough for Lewis Hamilton lying, enough of a sanction?

MM: I don't know. We haven't had the reports. There may be a report to the World Council. If there is, I will almost certainly be one of the people there to decide what happens. Therefore it would be completely wrong for me to discuss the rights and wrongs of the situation.

Q: Richard Rodgers, Motorsport News, UK

Is there a need for the IRC and WRC series to be merged?

MM: The IRC series is excellent and the people who run these events seem very pleased with it. If it's run for the same cars as the World Rally Championship, then that's good, it gives people choice. It's good for the promoters as well; it provides a possibility for the off-year from the World Rally Championship. I'm very happy with it. And I'm very happy with the person running it, as you know, Marcello Lotti is an excellent promoter, he runs our World Touring Car Championship. But it will never be the World Rally Championship; it's at a different level.

Q: Reiner Kuhn, Motorsport Aktuell, Switzerland

Do you still need the FIA European Championship if you have the IRC?

MM: We need regional championships like the Asia-Pacific, the Middle-East and Europe; they're desirable. We need more of a pyramid structure, not less. We need a structure which allows people to reach the top. I see no difficulty there at all. If the cars are available and not too expensive, then there are an awful lot of people who want to go rallying at different levels,

Q: Reiner Kuhn, Motorsport Aktuell, Switzerland

Should the Monte Carlo Rally run in IRC or WRC?

MM: That's entirely a matter for them. I'm a great believer in freedom of choice, it's up to them.

Q: David Evans, Autosport, UK

What's the news on a Formula Two equivalent in WRC?

MM: There's a view in the FIA that there is an argument for having a single-make, centrally run Championship, like the F2 series which is starting in single-seaters, to have something similar to this in rallying. This allows drivers to come in with minimal budget. The barriers to entry are far too high at the moment. The Pirelli scheme is an example of how those barriers can be overcome, but it's only five people. An F2-style Championship would be a very beneficial thing. This will be discussed in the coming weeks and I don't want to prejudice those discussions, but I think it highly likely we'll get something of that kind.

Q: David Evans, Autosport, UK

How do you feel about the complicated qualification procedure for the Pirelli Star Driver?

MM: I can't explain it, Morrie (Chandler) can. There's a lot of discussion going on. We don't think it's perfect yet. Various steps have been taken, for example, for northern Europe, to overcome the problem. We can improve that. The fundamental thing is that it exists thanks to Pirelli. I'm confident we will improve. But, above all, it's very pleasing to see the enthusiasm and interest coming from the drivers and the interest that is engendered in their regions. Morrie do you want to add anything?

Morrie Chandler: The first thing we need to understand is that we haven't got it right, but we have got it partly right. We'll observe the next three events and we'll plan forward from there. The scope of the agreement is to grow the Pirelli Star Driver through the regional championships. As we are going to do this through the regional championships, it has to follow the regional championships. Some areas do not have regional championships, for examples CODASUR and NACAM. We created a way that drivers there could qualify for the scheme. We've done the same with northern Europe, creating a way they can join even though they don't meet the criteria. If we keep going down that path, we will get everybody in.

Q: David Evans, Autosport, UK

How do you equalise performance between four and two-wheel-drive?

MC: The way of our friends in the European region is to have skilled and experienced drivers from the past study the drivers and cars and use their expertise to select a driver. That's part of the criteria to get there; it's not possible to finance putting them in equal cars unless they own them. We can't put them in equal cars, we don't have the funding. Michèle Mouton and Walter Rohrl did the European Championship shoot-out, using their skills to identify the right drivers.

Q: But this still favours rich drivers in four-wheel-drive cars.

MM: I think this is getting a bit detailed. An expert can make their mind up if a driver has an outstanding talent. It all argues for the same thing, if we have a category of cars which are equal and centrally run and we can put in much larger numbers of drivers, then the best drivers emerge. It's a massive step forward with Pirelli; we need patience while we improve. But the key is to have a much bigger group of drivers.

Q: Martin Holmes, Martin Holmes Rallying, UK

Would you be happy with a World Rally Championship concentrating on drivers rather than manufacturers? Do you see a successful WRC that's not led by the manufacturers?

MM: This is a hot topic. There has been a tendency in the last years to run the World Rally Championship for manufacturers when they have been the minority. We increasingly think -- not just in the WRC, but in the Cross-Country World Cup, which has huge amateur contingents -- instead of running for manufacturers and letting the amateurs do the best they can, we ought, perhaps, to run the Championship for the amateurs and let the manufacturers come on those terms. Then it's a more natural situation for the drivers, in any event the best drivers would go to manufacturer cars. We ought to try and make sure the manufacturer cars are not superior, other than perhaps marginally, to those run by the amateurs. For example, in tennis, you do not give Nadal or Federer a special racquet. They all play with the same racquet, although this is never achievable in something as complex as motorsport. That's a bit philosophical. The basic idea is running these Championships for the amateurs and letting the manufacturers come if it suits them, that's very much the way we are beginning to think.

Q: Daniel Ortelli, AFP, France

Any news on WRC world rankings?

MM: I will ask Morrie to answer this.

Morrie Chandler: The system is up and running. This year we run it confidentially within the FIA to ensure we have it correct. The principle of world-class seeding is in place, the programme is operating. Once we have the form correct then we will make it publicly available and that's probably going to be from the start of next year. Then it's the same as golf and tennis. Drivers who are not necessarily World Champions can gain publicity and recognition in their own countries as they move up the ranking. We can make heroes in those countries as they move from number 50 to number 20. They don't have to be World Champion, but what they will do is gain publicity as they move up.

Q: Markus Stier, Rallye Magazin, Germany

I'd like to come back one more time to the calendar. There are people who say we need unique events. If you are a friend of free choice, then to my mind it makes any event redundant if it's not run. We need traditional events.

MM: A traditional event is definitely a factor. If two events are equal in every aspect, but one is a traditional event then you would choose that one. It's a factor not the factor. Under the new scheme, we a have promoter and we will see what the promoter proposes. Obviously, we have the final decision, but if you have a promoter and want the Championship to be a success commercially, which we do -- because that's what will really make it function -- then you have to listen to the promoter. One factor they will take into account will be tradition, but it will only be one factor. If there is choice between a rather old fashioned event in Europe and an amazing new modern event in the Far East, in a major country which had backing of the whole nation, then you would choose the new one. We will have to choose very carefully. In each case there are a number of factors.

Q: Nick Garton, The Guardian, UK

What can differentiate the WRC from the amateur sport? What's the big pull for WRC?

MM: The drivers. If we do things reasonably well, the drivers will want to be World Champion. If it is run well and successfully, the drivers will come and the cars will follow, in a sense.

-credit: fia

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About this article
Series WRC
Drivers Lewis Hamilton , Sébastien Loeb , Walter Rohrl , Michèle Mouton , Reiner Kuhn , Bernie Ecclestone , Marcello Lotti , Carlos Barbosa