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Monday, 4 November, 2002, 10:18 GMT
F1 boss debates rule changes
FIA president Max Mosley talks exclusively to BBC Sport Online about the Formula One rule changes and the future of the Belgian Grand Prix.
How sure are you that the rule changes will not play into Ferrari's hands, rather than making F1 more competitive?
There are three strands to this question:
a) The new one-lap qualifying system will favour drivers who can go closest to the limits of their car on the first lap from cold - at which Michael Schumacher is the acknowledged expert.
Max Mosley: I agree. I think Michael Schumacher will probably have more pole positions in 2003 than in 2002.
b) The new points system favours reliability over speed - and Ferrari are the most reliable team.
MM: Possibly, but it is a constructors' as well as a drivers' championship. All the teams understand that reliability is crucial.
If McLaren and Williams had had the same reliability as Ferrari in 2002, the Championship would have been much closer, even under the old system.
c) Is there a risk that the new tyre rule will benefit Ferrari as their supplier Bridgestone has less teams to supply than Michelin, so will have to put more resources and effort in while Bridgestone can still concentrate on Ferrari.
MM: Michelin will probably put their resources behind whichever team(s) are closest to Ferrari. This at least levels the playing field.
Would it not be better to reward the winner with more advantage over second place - a change you introduced yourself when the points for a win were raised from nine to 10?
MM: There is a case for this, but everyone now seems to agree that the new proposal is better despite the danger that someone could win the championship without winning a race.
How will you police the team orders rule? Will teams not now simply apply team orders but do it surreptitiously? How can you stop them?
MM: Plainly we can only stop them if we can catch them, but at least no-one will now do an Austria.
If we see something suspicious, we will invite the stewards to draw an inference. The team will then have to defend itself.
Have you not sidestepped the issue of making racing better?
There is a lot of muddled thinking about improving the racing. We are told it should be easier to overtake. We agree.
To achieve this we need to change the cars as well as some of the circuits. This takes time, even if everyone agrees.
The problem is that even if we were to completely solve the car/circuit problem, the basic structure of our events does not encourage close racing or overtaking.
We spend two days finding out which car is fastest and then let it start at the front. So how is the car behind going to catch it, much less overtake it? Slipstreaming races are, after all, a thing of the past.
We thought carefully about giving the same points for qualifying as for the race and then reversing the first 10 places on the grid (then you'd get some overtaking!), but felt this was probably a step too far at the moment.
What do you say to claims from designers that the new qualifying rules will increase costs by leading teams to build special qualifying cars?
MM: This claim is nonsense. Teams already change a number of elements on the car for qualifying, hence the difference in lap times between qualifying and the race.
The best advice is that anything that could be done for a single lap during the course of one hour could be done for two, three or even four single laps - ie for the previous system.
In any event, teams have to race the car that was scrutineered. If there were substantial differences between the car used for qualifying and the car used for the race, the team would have problems with the scrutineers."
Is the decision to remove the Belgian GP from the F1 calendar not putting short-term politics before the long-term good of the sport?
MM: No. The tobacco companies are paying for several teams to go racing. The Belgian politicians knew this.
If they want the cars without tobacco sponsorship, they should at least offer to replace the tobacco money for the Belgian event.
Why is it such a bad thing to have one more race without tobacco advertising? The German races have recently reverted to running with it and there is supposed to be a worldwide ban for 2007 anyway
MM: We have an agreement with the teams that organisers will not be allowed to tell them which sponsors they can or cannot have.
But even if we did not, how could we justify arbitrarily depriving the tobacco sponsors of nearly 7% of the benefit they derive from sponsoring their teams? They pay the teams' bills, not us.
In a time when the quality of F1's spectacle is being questioned, is it not more important to keep the few tracks like Spa where the layout promotes good racing?
MM: Not if it means depriving the teams of the funds to go racing, but anyway we have an agreement which we must respect.
The Belgian politicians should have waited until 2006. What they have done will not reduce tobacco publicity, not even in Belgium, where everybody can go on seeing tobacco sponsorship on television from outside the country.
All they have achieved is to damage the local Belgian economy and deprive Formula One fans of a good circuit.
Is it not disingenuous and an abdication of responsibility to leave this decision up to the teams, when several of them have tobacco sponsorship?
MM: No because the teams have to pay the cost of going racing, not the FIA. Teams depend on tobacco sponsorship and only they can say whether or not they can do without it.
Is there any chance of the Belgian GP returning to the calendar in 2003, bearing in mind current attempts by Belgian politicians to solve the tobacco advertising problem?
MM: No. The World Motor Sport Council decision (confirmed by the FIA General Assembly) was just that, a decision.
It was not an attempt to open negotiations. The politicians have known about the problem for more than a year.
They could have solved it easily for 2003 by moving the date of implementation by just four weeks - from 1 August to 1 September.
They should concentrate now on trying to get things sorted out for 2004, 2005 and 2006.
Will there be a worldwide tobacco advertising ban in F1 for the 2007 season, as you have previously said?
MM: I think there will, but actions by individual countries like Belgium make this significantly more difficult to achieve. Disunity and confusion are never helpful in these situations.
Can you clarify the tyre rule - will teams still be restricted to one type of tyre from qualifying onwards, or will the two types be available all weekend?
MM: During the test period from 0900 to 1100 on Friday (assuming at least three teams opt for this), teams can use whatever tyres they like as in any other test session.
When practice starts they can use, as in 2002, either or both of the two types of tyre supplied to them by their tyre company.
They must then (again, as in 2002) choose one of their tyres before 1300 on Saturday to use in qualifying and the race.
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