This is a crucial week for Formula 1. Next Wednesday, all F.1 Team Principals will meet the President of the FIA Jean Todt to discuss future and present decisions. On the same day, some single-seaters will be virtually revealed, as well as the first session of collective testing scheduled at the Spanish circuit of Jerez starting from January 28th.
The Salary Cap, which is expected to be introduced in 2015, is a fundamental subject for the survival of the circus, however, F1 current issues should be at the top of the meeting schedule, despite the statements made by the people concerned.
In this moment, several teams are dealing with the increase in costs, which is caused by the important technological upgrades which have been introduced this year and by the lack of sponsorship. Except for the two or three top teams, all other teams are in a quite bad situation. In the past, the ordinary matter was the survival or the closure of small teams such as the Minardi, while now we see Lotus, the fourth team in the standing, undergoing a financial crisis and McLaren failing FIA crash tests.
Formula 1 has always represented the highest expression in terms of technology and all the technological upgrades introduced for the 2014 season will be also applied to standard cars: energy recovery, restrictions on fuel and the introduction of turbos to replace aspirated engines. Only car racing can foster technological research, however I think that this is not the right moment to embark on such a demanding adventure. The worldwide financial crisis has not been seriously taken into account. We don’t have to forget that the Formula 1 Championship is the most followed media event after the Olympic Games and the World Cup, with the last two events being held every 4 years, while F1 GP are held every 15 days. Therefore the Circus can’t afford to take choices which are not sufficiently though out, such as points doubling, in order to make the Championship more attractive. In my opinion this is an illogic decision. In my opinion the current regulations is too severe. The number of engine units available per driver was significantly reduced as well as test days; I think this is a too radical reduction, especially if we consider that several changes have been introduced and teams have to deal with a larger number of issues. Delays on the schedule are clear and this will influence cars’ reliability, performance and safety.
The first half of January has passed and the first session of collective tests will be shortly held on the track of Jerez. Who will take part in that? What will be their technical features? How will they face up to the first race events? I get the impression that the World Championship won’t be won by those teams who will have the best technical features, but by those teams who will manage to cross the line. Reliability will be the winning feature. In a highly competitive and technological framework such as F1, economic issues have a deep influence not only on technological research, but also on the reliability of the different parts.
F1 is going through a critical moment and has to deal with the lack of a real leader. Mr. Ecclestone’s issues have repercussions on the F1 environment; despite he stated he can rely on the support of all teams.
I hope that F1 issues will be seriously considered with regards to the 2014 season, so that the highest level of competitiveness is ensured for this sport.