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FIA press conference - Max Mosley 11 Sep 2004

Max Mosley (GBR) FIA President  in the FIA press conference.
Formula One World Championship, Rd15, Italian Grand Prix, Practice Day, Monza, Italy, 10 September 2004

Reproduced with kind permission of the FIA

FIA President Max Mosley faces the press in Monza.

I wanted to have a quick press conference here for two purposes. One is because at the last one at Magny-Cours, I told you all that I was going to resign in October and that there was no going back on this decision and then two weeks later I went back on the decision. I thought I owed an explanation for that. Secondly, I thought you might find it useful if I brought you up to date where, at least from the FIA point of view, we are on the Formula One regulations for 2005 and 2006, because there seems to be a certain amount of misunderstanding.

As far as ‘the resignation that never was’ is concerned, I was completely determined to go. I really did feel that I’d had enough – exactly as I explained in Magny-Cours – but fairly soon after that – in fact by the time of the British Grand Prix a week later – there was pressure from all sides of the FIA to stay, not perhaps so much because they all long for me to stay – that’s not for me to say – but because it had become clear that there was no real succession. There was a great deal of backwards and forwards about who might take over and how it might be taken over and everyone started to say, from all different corners of the FIA, you really must stay, you can go in 2005 if you want to, but you must stay, and if you’re going to go, before you go, there should be a structure in place because it is quite obvious that no one person can do the entire job. And that was really my complaint, that it was just too much work. You get into the office at nine o’ clock in the morning, you can’t really leave until six or seven in the evening and one feels at a certain point you don’t want to spend all your time working at that pressure. If, on the other hand you don’t work at that pressure, so many things get left undone that it’s really disagreeable to be in that situation. So I think what will happen is there will be a new structure, then we will have that structure in place by 2005. Whether I stand again for the presidency in 2005, whether I then retire, or whether I stand for some other position in the restructured FIA is an open question which will obviously get decided in due course and I will listen to what people have to say within the organisation. But the only thing I should say, and I’m sorry this is all quite personal in a way, is that I was very pleasantly surprised by the number of people and the variety of people who really did insist on me staying, and I hope it was because of me (rather than because they hadn’t got anybody who they really wanted to replace me with) but they did and therefore it was quite clearly my duty to stay. So, so much for me and the resignation.

Now for the Formula One regulations: The situation is, as I think everybody knows, that we gave, at the beginning of July, the Technical Working Group notice to produce proposals to slow the cars. Two months went by; there were no proposals, so in accordance with the Concorde Agreement, we have put forward three packages of proposals to slow the cars, and invited the Technical Working Group to choose one of them. These three packages, in each case, have three elements: tyres, aerodynamics and engine. The aerodynamics package is most liberal in package one, slightly less liberal in package two and still less open in package three. I won’t bore you with the details, it’s to do with wings and dimensions and so on – but that’s really what it comes down to. The tyres: it’s the same everywhere, the two sets per weekend that I think everybody knows about, and then the engine: the package one is a very restricted engine, package two is a slightly less restricted engine and package three is a fairly free engine, but in all three cases we’re talking about a 2.4-litre V8. And there’s some misunderstanding about it so let’s be very clear about that, in every case we’re talking about a 2.4-litre V8 but package one very restricted, package two not so restricted, package three quite open, rather like they are currently now, but with a requirement that the major manufacturers, in consideration of being allowed to spend huge sums of money on getting more horsepower, supply the small teams with engines.
Now, at the present time, I think it’s right in saying, but of course it can change at any moment, as far as the aerodynamics are concerned, they are all happy with package two. As far as the tyres are concerned, they are all happy – and when I say all, I believe it to be all ten teams but as we’ve seen so often in the past, that can change very quickly. On the engines, six or seven of them are happy with package two, that is to say, the restrictive but not ultimately restricted engine, and three are not happy. The three that are not happy have said they would prefer to stay with a 3-litre V10 in 2005 and 2006, also a single race engine, and that they would then consider going to a 2.7 V10 in 2007.

So I think that is a reasonable summary of the situation as it is at the present time. Now within the 45 days during which the technical working group have the possibility of choosing one of these three packages it may be that they will choose, that eight of them will agree finally on package two, which is the one that seven would appear to support. Or it may not. If that happens, well, then the matter could go immediately to the World Council for a decision. If that doesn’t happen, at the end of the 45 days the FIA is then free under the Concorde agreement to impose one of the packages itself, which I don’t doubt it will do. So I think that’s really all I can say. I think if I go on further about that I would be just confusing the issue. I think that’s fairly clear, but if it isn’t, I think the moment’s probably come to try and answer questions.

QUESTIONS FROM THE FLOOR

Q: (Tony Dodgins – Tony Dodgins Associates) Max, can you tell us anything about what’s liable to happen with qualifying?
MM:
At the moment there is no agreement on a new proposal for qualifying, so if nothing changes, it will simply go on next year exactly as it is now. But it is to be hoped that during the autumn we will reach some sort of agreement. There’s also an anomaly beginning to appear which is this business of running the third car. If things stay as they are, you get possibly one of the teams running a third car that was never intended to run a third car. But nothing can change unless we have a majority of 18 votes at least in the Formula One Commission.

Q: (Joe Saward – F1 Grand Prix Special) Max, you say you can impose the engine formula with the Concorde agreement. Can you let us know for sure one way or another if there is a clause in the Concorde agreement that says you will keep 3-litre V10s until the end of the agreement?
MM:
There is a clause in the Concorde agreement that says we cannot change the engine or the transmission or anything that affects the performance of them without the unanimous agreement of the teams. But the clause that we are relying on to change the regulations to slow the cars down says that it can be imposed provided the procedures are followed notwithstanding anything else contained in the agreement. So the answer is we can do it notwithstanding the clause that says the engines don’t get changed, notwithstanding the clause that says the bodywork doesn’t get changed etc.

Q: (Joe Saward) But is there actually a clause that specifies in written form 3-litre V10s or not?
MM:
There is in the sense that that’s part of the technical regulations which won’t change, yes, but it’s a footling point because the clause that we’re relying on says that notwithstanding anything else in the agreement.

Q: (Joe Saward) Okay, if it is a footling point, why are teams going to take you to arbitration?
MM:
Well, we’ll see how footling it is if they do.

Q: (Dan Knutson – National Speedsport News) Max, a team principal said recently that all these rule changes are a deliberate attempt to destabilise the teams and create an environment where they cannot come to a unified position and take the teams’ focus away from the prime objective which is to create commercial stability. May I have a comment on that please?
MM:
I think that is rather fanciful to put it mildly. There is no serious debate that the cars are now too quick. I don’t think anybody seriously suggests they are not. That being the case, they need to be slowed down. Now we haven’t imposed anything yet, we simply followed the procedure, which is set out in the Concorde agreement, which says that if the cars are too fast we must first of all consult the Technical Working Group about whether they are too fast and then, having done that, we can invite the Technical Working Group to make a proposal. So you would think that if this was to destabilise the teams, the teams, which are the Technical Working Group - we don’t have a vote on the Technical Working Group, there are ten votes and there are the ten teams - they would have come up with a proposal that didn’t destabilise. The truth of the matter is that they haven’t come up with a proposal because there are not eight of them that can agree on any one set of things. In those circumstances, if there aren’t eight of them who agree, the next stage – and it’s all laid down in the agreement – is for us to offer three packages. And then the next stage after that, if they don’t chose one of the three packages, is to impose one. But at each stage they have got the opportunity to resolve the problem in any of a number of ways, but it’s not that they didn’t come up with a proposal to slow the cars with which we could agree. They didn’t come up with a proposal to slow the cars at all. It’s very nice to say these things – those things are easily said - but it doesn’t stand up for a moment when one looks at it.

Q: (Alberto Antonini - Autosprint) Max, does any package cover and address the issue of safety in terms of minimum weight, ballast and anything which would suggest stronger cars and components?
MM:
No, it doesn’t, and that’s actually a pity because the only thing we can do under that clause in the Concorde agreement – it’s very, very specific and clear - is we can take measures to slow the cars, so we cannot under that clause take measures which would make the cars safer but not necessarily slow them. And the two most obvious things – and we put this in a letter to the teams - we would like to get rid of all the materials which cause sharp shards and so on, on the circuits which are in vulnerable parts of the car: the wings, the bargeboards, things like this. We would like to get rid of them and change to some other material and the suspension could be steel, a lot of things it could be and it’s the same for everybody, it wouldn’t give anybody an advantage or a disadvantage. But strictly speaking, you couldn’t actually say that any of those measures actually slow the cars, so we can’t impose them under the Concorde Agreement. Equally, we would like to get rid of the ballast because the ballast is now, in some cases, up to 15 percent. It’s getting on for 100kg in some cars, perhaps even more, I’m not sure. It’s a huge amount and of course the energy that you have to dissipate in an accident is directly proportional to the weight of the car and the ballast is just a huge lump of energy that’s got to be dissipated in an accident. So we’d like to get rid of that and then slow the cars by other means because obviously if you got rid of the ballast they would be faster. But there are other things you could do. You would also have to change the size of the tyres because at the moment they are using the ballast to overcome the problem of the rear tyres being so narrow. But all that said and done, the cars would be a lot safer, but you could never argue that removing the ballast could slow the cars so we can’t do it under that article. We have asked the teams to do it and I think they probably will because although you get the impression that, at team principal level as it were, or the discussions that I have with team principals, it’s just always an argument, but the Technical Working Group, when it concerns safety, there’s almost always agreement and Charlie (Whiting) and they seem to find solutions to these problems, so I’m optimistic we can do it. But we can’t, as it were, push it through. We can only ask.

Q: (Steve Cooper – Motorsport News) Max, do you not think that the FIA chose to implement these changes a little bit too late in the season? After all, we know that if you have rule stability the cars are going to get faster year on year and yet it wasn’t until May, June, July that we suddenly started to see a raft of changes being introduced and I believe that I’m right in saying that there was a provision in the rules that allowed for an extra groove in the tyres to perhaps temporarily slow down cars yet we’re now looking at new engines, further chassis revision, aerodynamic revisions, tyre revisions in the space of less than six months. Is that not asking too much from too many people?
MM:
That’s not entirely fair because there were discussions going on a long time before that, and then we had to start getting something actually happening, but in the end the time delays are set out in the Concorde Agreement and it is two months for them to make a proposal, 45 days for us to then choose one of our three proposals if they don’t come up with a proposal and then after that we can impose something which must not come into force before three months. So three months is the point laid down in the Concorde agreement now. And in the case of the engine, it would not be practical to say you’ve got to go from a 3-litre to a 2.4 in three months. Therefore we’ve said 2006 for that. But the chassis and the tyre changes, it’s certainly practical, particularly if they’ve known about it now for some time, that something’s coming and had the opportunity to discuss it. I don’t think anyone’s actually complaining about the time. In fact one of the engine suppliers was saying to me today, trying to change what we are doing, it’s not too late for 2006, even now, to change to something completely different.

Q: (Steve Cooper) But surely back in Melbourne no one was crying about the cars being too fast? Back in Melbourne the buzzwords were really we want to cut costs and increase the spectacle and they both seem to have been left by the wayside in terms of these crusades to slow the cars down and leave everything else to one side.
MM:
There certain things we can do. We can bring in measures to slow the cars down. In the end, we can suggest things that may reduce costs, we can’t make anybody do it and we’ve had interminable meetings about doing that. As it happens, the changes which are coming through for reducing the performance, the speed of the cars, will also have a beneficial effect on cost, as it happens. But, we can’t do these soft of changes for cost reasons.

Q: (Matt Bishop – F1 Racing) It’s possible, I gather, that it might be dry tomorrow and rain on Sunday. If that happens, then with the parc fermé rules we have at the moment, on a circuit such as this one, the cars will probably be in low downforce trim which would potentially make them liable to aquaplaning on Sunday. How does the FIA square this with its on-going efforts to prioritise safety at all times?
MM:
Well, we’d have to cross that bridge when we came to it and the answer is I don’t know if it is going to rain on Sunday, I don’t know what the teams would want to do. I don’t know whether there would be a problem. If there were a problem, in the final analysis, between the teams and the stewards and Charlie (Whiting), I’m sure they would find a solution but we would never run in conditions that were absolutely dangerous.

Q: (Matt Bishop) So it is possible then that if they were considered dangerous, if there was standing water, that they might be allowed to make aerodynamic changes?
MM:
I don’t know. It would really be left to the people who have to decide, taking into account all the circumstances. The only thing one can say is that if it were dangerous we would not start the race, just like if there were a monsoon on a circuit where there were three inches of water. You have to deal with these things as they arise but we’ve always, so far – I can think of one exception – been able to deal with these things when they arose.

Q: (Mark Hughes – Autosport ) If you end up having to impose a set of regulations and that results in two or three manufacturers deciding they don’t like them and they leave the sport, would that be a serious concern to you?
MM:
It would. The thing is that if you took literally what everyone says, if we go for a restrictive engine there are two manufacturers who might leave. If we allow the current levels of freedom to continue, there are two manufacturers who almost certainly will leave. It just depends if you believe them or not, it’s always difficult to know. But in the final analysis, if you’re left with a choice between going for relatively inexpensive engines where, in the worst case a commercial engine builder could make one and come and race with it successfully, or go for very expensive engines where you are totally dependent on the manufacturers to supply competitive engines, then a responsible governing body, I think, would have to go for the inexpensive option. Also, under the Concorde agreement, part of that clause that we’re using requires us to do whatever least inconveniences the teams, and of course that includes the little teams, so that is the option we would have to go for. But in the end, that is the problem – you can’t please everybody. My personal view is, if we go for the less expensive option, I don’t believe anybody is going to leave and I think manufacturers come and go for all sorts of reasons but there is always going to be enough technical freedom for them to justify their presence as far as technology is concerned. Other things like marketing are another matter. If you bear one thing in mind that even the most restrictive of all the packages, package one, the engine, you would still be looking at something in the 650-700 horsepower region. If you had said, for example, to Keith Duckworth in the seventies, you will one day see a 3-litre engine with over 600 horsepower he would have thought that was impossible. And yet you can do that now with what would be considered a very, very restrictive engine. So probably, in 30 years time, we would find that with that very restrictive engine there would be another huge increase in horsepower. It is there to be discovered and if they want to discover it they can. What we are trying to do is to make sure that no matter how much money somebody spends they will not have a huge horsepower advantage over somebody who spends a great deal less money. You need that for the racing, for competitiveness and so on. We’re also bound to do that because whatever regulations we impose, as I say, must inconvenience all the teams as little as possible and clearly if you can avoid the small teams having wholly uncompetitive engines, you’ve gone some way towards doing that.

Q: (Mike Doodson – Mike Doodson Associates) Max, this is a big picture question. We know the FIA no longer has any financial interest or control in Formula One but if you look at the situation at the moment, we have Bernie about to be sued by the banks in what looks to be a fight to the death for commercial control of Formula One, the GPWC doesn’t seem to have gone away completely and they have got a man in the paddock and the Concorde agreement runs out perilously soon at the end of 2007. Is it not reasonable to expect the FIA and its president to start knocking a few heads together so that we can ensure the stability that the sport we all love needs for the future?
MM:
I think it is and I think within the limits of what we are allowed to do under the Concorde agreement we are doing that. As far as Bernie and the banks are concerned, we have a contract with the company that lasts for 100 years and this is, as far as I understand it, a discussion about who appoints the directors of the company but obviously we will deal with whoever we have to deal with. We have certain rights about who or who cannot be what’s called the representative, the person who from that company represents them within the FIA, which is currently Bernie, so I am not particularly concerned about that, it will sort itself out. As far as the GPWC is concerned they, in one form or another, I think will reach agreement with Bernie and the banks, all the commercial people reach an agreement because I think that now everyone recognises, including the companies that GPWC have consulted, that the one thing you cannot do is have two championships. So, what’s very clear I think is that there will be one championship. Our main task at the moment is to do two things: firstly, to make sure as far as we can that we don’t allow the cars to reach speeds where a serious accident becomes increasingly likely. The second thing is to try to make sure we have at least 20 cars, which teams are bound to provide but there are one or two teams who are not finding it easy to continue and so we have to think of them and try to do what we can to keep it together. If all these rule changes go through and it all works as it should do and we have a really good season in 2006, which I think we will have, and then you will probably find one or two new teams will come in and the whole thing will start to regenerate. The unhealthy aspect of Formula One at the moment is that we haven’t had any new teams other than Toyota. We need the professional racing teams again, which always have been the backbone of Formula One. There are at least four that I know of outside who would like to come but contrary to popular belief it’s not the 48 million dollar deposit that is stopping them, it’s the availability of competitive engines. If we can get them competitive engines they’ll be in because they don’t have to put up 48 million dollars in cash, they have to put up a bank guarantee and anyone who’s got the means to do Formula One can do that. The problem that confronts all of them is getting a competitive engine and building a chassis that is halfway competitive, but the engine is the most fundamental problem. But we are very conscious of these things; it’s what we are working on.

Q: (Olav Mol - SBS) Max, two questions on qualifying. One is five years ago there was nothing wrong with qualifying except the first 20 minutes – why not make a solution for just the first 20 minutes and let it go as it was? And secondly, has the FIA ever thought or asked television companies what to do with qualifying because it is no good asking the team principals, they don’t know much about the show or anything, but the television companies spend a huge amount of money in Formula One.
MM:
Interesting, both those points. The 20 minute point I agree with. I am not convinced that if you didn’t have the first 20 minutes that you wouldn’t then get the empty track. Sometimes we got the empty track, sometimes we didn’t. If you watch it on television, and I speak from experience because I watch almost always on television, the frustrating thing about the previous qualifying was that you always missed the lap you wanted to see. Very often they would show you someone on a slowing down lap when you knew, if you had access to the times, that someone was on a really quick lap. It was very frustrating. On the other hand, what we have now, I recognise, when you are at the circuit it is quite boring. When you are on television, as you can only watch one car at a time it has certain attractions – it’s not as frustrating as in the old days. A famous example is Montoya’s sensational lap in Monaco in 2002 and nobody saw it, there’s no footage, no nothing. Your second point, I am completely at one with you. I have repeatedly said in the meetings of the Formula One commission and to the team principals that if you have a multi-billion dollar business anybody else does market research; they ask the customers what they want. Who are the customers? They are not the teams, they are not the people at the circuit even, they are the hundreds of millions of people watching it on television and why can’t we ask the television companies to do one of those things where they ask various options and they get a little bit of money from each phone call, they’re very happy to do it, everyone is happy, we might learn something. But nobody takes any notice. Then I say to the team principals, which doesn’t go down very well, is that the problem is that they are all, I think all, over 50, multi-millionaires and they never watch on free-to-air television. The customers are under all 50, not multi-millionaires and do watch it on free-to-air television. So who are they, deciding what the customers should have? As Bernie once said, he said it’s like opening a restaurant and putting up everything you like on the menu and the customer just has to lump it. It’s just not the right way to do it but, unfortunately, at the moment we don’t run the sport. From January 1, 2008, we could sit down with Bernie or the commercial rights holder and, provided the World Council agrees, we could do what we want. But at the moment we have the Formula One commission, teams have got 12 votes and it is very, very difficult to make any progress.

Q: (Steve Cooper) I wanted to ask you about the contract dispute between BAR, Williams and Jenson Button, whether you felt that the ongoing dispute had dirtied the sport in some way and whether you felt that perhaps a troublesome outcome for this judgement would perhaps set a dangerous precedent for Formula One? Do we need to get a strong judgement from the CRB to make sure we don’t have this repeated again?
MM:
I hope the CRB (Contract Recognition Board) will resolve the problem because that is what the CRB is there for. But it is a completely commercial matter that doesn’t really concern the FIA, it really is not our business, this is a contract between a team and a driver, possibly two teams and a driver, and that is exactly what the board is there for. It’s not really us.

Q: (Tim Bowdler – Motorsport News) Steve mentioned earlier about the spectacle of the sport. Do you personally think that the sport is boring at the moment?
MM:
I must say, I don’t find it boring, I really don’t. Some of the races have been boring; an awful lot of them have been very good. Hungary is traditionally boring but I thought both Hockenheim and Spa were both interesting races. What I thought particularly interesting at Hockenheim was the amount of overtaking. It is increasingly becoming clear that overtaking is possibly more a function of the circuit than the cars, but that is a big discussion going on at the moment. I don’t find it boring. I realise that Michael Schumacher has won a disproportionate number of races but I see it as a sporting phenomenon. It’s rather like Mohammed Ali at his prime or Pete Sampras at his prime and I think that has a fascination all of its own, a sort of ‘I was there’ element, you know you are seeing something that you don’t see very often and that interests people, I believe. But it needs to change and it will change. Teams come up, teams come down and what has been very interesting for me this season is the two teams that were expected to challenge Ferrari didn’t and two teams that were not did and that’s very healthy. And it’s a sad thing to say but if Michael Schumacher had not been there we would have had a very exciting championship going on and one has to keep that in mind. So no, I don’t think it’s boring and I think it will change and I think I am very optimistic for the future.

Q: (James Allen - ITV) A couple of questions on engines Max, firstly the numbers are siding up in favour of what, in terms of the three packages, and are we to take it that you would impose package two?
MM:
The thing is, one shouldn’t pre-judge this because there are the three choices, they are in front of the teams, but it is by its nature a negotiating process, so the possibility is always open that out of this will come something else. We have actually said to the teams you could choose one element from each package, so like the aerodynamics from one, the engine from another, the tyres are the same in all three, and we would be quite happy with this, so something may come out of it. But if nothing changes and there are no new ideas, nothing moves, then the most probably one is package two but I can only say that because the decision will be the decision of the World Council but that is the most likely.

Q: (James Allen) One of the engine builders was saying why are they picking on us, why do they have to have the two-race engines? They don’t have to go ten places back on the grid for a chassis failure so why are they being picked on?
MM:
Not a lot because the technical working group, which is the technical director of every team, have been saying, I think actually for 11 years but certainly very vociferously and repeatedly for the last two years, we must do something about the engines and complaining that the engine people never move, never give an inch. So the engine people, in a way, are at fault themselves because there has never been a readiness to change and to help accommodate, it always has to be someone else that does it. As far as the two-race engine is concerned, the point of it is that it is one way of keeping performance under control, where as if we had a two-race front wing it wouldn’t make much difference at all. And secondly, it is also, in the longer term, something that would enable the smaller teams to get an engine supply less expensively. You can’t prevent a big manufacturer spending a fortune on research and development – it’s their money, their workshop, they can do what they like. But if you make the engine last longer the actual unit becomes cheaper so to supply a second or third or fourth team becomes less expensive. The analogy is the way the big manufacturers make a road car – to make the first prototype and set up the production line it’s literally billions of dollars but the actual unit gets sold for a few thousand dollars and they count on selling a lot of them. If we make the engine last a long time, so you don’t have to rebuild it, so the labour costs come down because you don’t have to rebuild it, the parts costs come down because you are not replacing parts and you don’t rebuild them that means the cost of running the engine is really very low. The car that it may have cost hundreds of millions to develop is not the point because they’re going to do that anyway for their number one team. But the multi-race engine does make it possible to supply a second, third and maybe fourth team. We have to prepare the ground for the day when we don’t have seven manufacturers. We might easily get back to the days of three, four, maybe even two manufacturers, at which point where are the engines going to come from? The answer is whoever supplies them, they have got to be inexpensive because people are going to have to buy them.

Q: (Matt Bishop) In the light of the 2.4-litre engines and the other changes being proposed and also in the light of the need for Formula One to continue to be the pinnacle of world motorsport and so on, are you concerned at all that the gap in performance between the new Formula One and the proposed GP2 series will be sufficiently large?
MM:
Yes, I think it will because first of all the new GP2 series, as I understand it, is probably going to be closer to 500 than 600 horsepower and we can always ask them to go down on the same safety grounds that we are taking Formula One down. People say yes, but you can now buy a road car with 600, 700 or 800 horsepower but that has always been the case. If you think back to the early 60s you could go and buy an E-type Jaguar for 2,000 pounds with 265 horsepower and a Formula One engine had 200 or 210 and nobody said I am not going to go and watch Formula One because the E-type has got more power. It’s all about power and weight and, actually, the cars will be very quick, very manoeuvrable, lighter, less powerful than they are now, but with less energy in an accident and less overall speed. They would be much better cars, I think. I mean, it can’t be right in a Formula One car to go around with 100kg of some incredibly dense metal. You don’t see it. They look wonderful, the cars and I find it offensive, the idea of that amount of ballast in there, quite apart from the danger that it brings.

Q: (Tony Dodgins) Two questions Max. First of all, we have seen quite a few tyre issues recently and I think inevitably when you get a tyre war you are going to get people pushing and things, but is there a deep concern about that within the FIA and is it possible to do anything about it in terms of imposing design restrictions on companies? And secondly, Matt’s magazine ran a fairly public Fax Max campaign and in light of what you said earlier about gauging response from the public, can you tell us a bit about what sort of response you have got from that?
MM:
On the tyres, we have never attempted to regulate tyres and when we get failures like we have had recently the most we ever do is write to the tyre company concerned saying that we are seriously concerned and I must say that the tyre companies always react in a responsible way and I think that probably, I hope, we won’t see any more failures like that. That’s the first thing. Secondly, the tyre companies are entitled to say to us ‘you should make sure these shards aren’t on the circuit’, because I don’t think they are responsible for all the failures, that is probably an element there. This is absolutely true and hence that proposal to the teams. In the end, if we really had a safety problem with tyres the only solution would be to go to a single tyre supplier. I don’t think it would be practical for the FIA, we don’t have the knowledge, the experience and the means to assess properly whether tyre A is safer than tyre B or suitable for this application or that application. It’s beyond our knowledge. Whereas, if you have a single tyre supplier then the problem is solved because you can make the thing as bullet-proof as you wish. I think in the end the tyre companies realise that and so far in Formula One they have been responsible, by and large. In other forms of racing, one motorbike series in particular, for safety reasons has done exactly that, gone to a single tyre. But I hope and think that won’t be necessary.
On the Fax Max campaign, I like the idea of all these races but there are two arguments against it. One is that the teams would find it very stressful, the other is that the start of the race is probably the most dangerous moment and what you are doing is multiplying the dangerous moments so there could be a safety issue. But actually there hasn’t been enormous support, not overwhelming support for it, I think that’s fair to say – unless, of course, the magazine in question has failed to send on the faxes or our fax machine has not been working because it’s not been enormous. The trouble with the qualifying is that every day I get three or four letters from all over the world, with really sometimes quite ingenious ideas for qualifying and I always write back saying it is a great idea but we are not short of ideas, we are short of agreement. We can never get the teams to agree, but maybe we will. October 31 is the deadline. If we can get the Formula One commission to agree before then it can go through. Once we get past October 31 we need unanimous agreement to change and that is as far as near impossible.

Q: (Mike Doodson) Back to the tyre thing, Max. You told us earlier that you don’t have any control over the ways the cars are made and that’s presumably the materials from which they are made so it sounds to me that we can expect to see lots of carbon fibre shards on the track, even when you have reduced the number of tyres available to the teams. When a driver comes in these days after a major incident, one only has to think of Indianapolis, he has the reassurance of knowing that he has got four fresh tyres on the car. That won’t be the case under your new regulations. Don’t you think the drivers are entitled to that reassurance?
MM:
It’s interesting. There has been a meeting of team managers with Charlie (Whiting) where this point has come up and it is something we are looking at carefully at the moment because clearly the situation could arise where safety would require something to be done and exactly that point is being looked at. I should explain that, again, the technical meetings below the level of the team principals are very good, so are the meetings of the team managers because they tend to be highly professional people who actually understand what’s going on in Formula One and Charlie’s meetings with them usually produce something very reasonable. And dare I say it, if all the team principals would take a three-month holiday and let the managers get on with it I think we would solve all the problems!

Q: (Olav Mol) You have talked a lot about safety. I have heard from a number of photographers that they are now thinking about training with the SAS for next year’s Belgian Grand Prix because they came up with a special force of Belgian police! Have you heard about that and are you going to do anything about it?
MM:
I have heard about it, I have had a report and I’ve asked for an inquiry. We asked the question, who gave the order, who told them to do this and why did they interfere? The first response that came back was that they did it on their initiative and they had a plan which showed this as a red area which no-one could go into. They were given that plan on August 20, so obviously I have now posed the question who gave them the plan on August 20 that was wrong and why was it that they were not able to work out that given that all the photographers were there, given there were holes in the fence and given that this is obviously intended for use for the photographers and possibly it might have been a genuine photographers area and wouldn’t it have been sensible to check with race control before getting busy? I am now waiting for responses to those questions. Depending on the inquiry and the response we get, we may or may not invite the organisers to appear in front of the World Council at some stage in the next few months.