THE F.I.A. UNDER FIRE
The F.I.A., controlling body of motor sport, has never been more unpopular. Last month we drew attention to the protests made by Stirling Moss in respect of the new regulations governing sports-car races and other matters over which he considered the F.I.A. to be dilatory or out of touch with modern motor-racing.
In particular Moss considered the regulation calling for tall windscreens positively dangerous and demanded its withdrawal. In this he now has the support of nineteen influential drivers, headed by Fangio. The following strongly-worded protest has been sent to the by Joakim Bonnier on behalf of Fangio, Moss, Brabham, Trintignant, Schell, Shelby, Graham Hill, Gurney, Phil Hill, von Trips, Allison, Gonzalez, Masten Gregory, Barth, Herrman, Gendebien, Seidel, Scarlatti and Munaron :—
” We hereby want to go on record as having made a written romplaint to the F.I.A. regarding the dangerous new windscreen regulation for sports cars. We made the original complaint by cable on January 30th. 1960, after having practised for the Buenos Aires 1000-km. sports-car race.
” We now feel obligated to make a press release. stating that we do not want to assume the responsibility for the safety of the public and the drivers in the coming world championship sports car races. Primarily Sebring and Le Mans will be extremely hazardous because much of the racing is at night. “As we already stated in nor earlier complaint, the great danger arises when the windscreen becomes covered with oil, rubber, bugs, etc., which prevents the driver front seeing the road sufficiently. At night or/and if it rains. this danger, of course. becomes even more accentuated.
” In the name of safety we therefore once more request the 1.1A. to abolish this new regulation height and return to 1959 windscreen height.
” As the windscreen regulation was decided by the without asking any of the professional drivers, we now strongly feel that if there is an accident resulting in injury to the public and/or competitors, the entire responsibility rests with the President of the F.I.A. Sports Commission. Mr. A. Perouse, alone.”
With drivers of this calibre making such a strong stand against a regulation which has a direct bearing on safety—and safety, the F.I.A. tells us, is one of its primary aims—it would seem that appropriate action will most certainly be taken by the governing body of the Sport. It must he taken immediately, before any more races are run. Although the same problem has to be faced with closed racing cars and although tall screens were specified by the F.I.A. to play a part in getting rid of sports/racing cars which were virtually disguised G.P. machines, no-one can underestimate the concern shown by drivers as experienced as those who have appended their signatures to this petition. Corne to think of it, years ago, when T.T. and Le Mans cars bore some resemblance to catalogue models, they were permitted to race with main windscreens folded flat.
Apart from this assault on the F.I.A., the. governing body faces a far more serious attack from the R.A.C., which has been asked to and return to inform M. Perouse and his colleagues that Britain will not support Championship Grand Prix races next year if the 1½-litre/minimum weight formula goes through. The meeting at which this decision was taken was presided over by F. R. W. England of Jaguars, and was attended by representatives of Aston Martin, B.R.M., Cooper, Lotus and Vanwall, by B.P., Castrol, Esso and Shell, and by the B.R.D.C. The Sporting Sub-Committee of the S.M.M.T. has endorsed the decision of the meeting and has asked the R.A.C. to bring this to the urgent attention of the F.I.A. in Paris.
The dislikes of the 1½-litre Formula are. as so violently expressed when the F.I.A.’s decision to drop the existing 2½-litre Formula in 1961 was announced last that the minimum rule last year, namely that the minimum weight rule will be unlikely to result in safer racing, that the greatly reduced engine capacity will reduce speed and lose spectator support and, that to scrap existing 2½.Iitre developments will be a costly procedure.
It is significant that Britain is now foremost in Grand Prix racing, so that if she withdraws her support, this form of racing from 1961 onwards faces a very bleak future indeed. As this country has manufacturers fully conversant with 1½-litre racing cars she can hardly be accused of bias. At the meeting concerned the cost of building three 1½-Litre G.P. engines was estimated at £50,000, so presumably engines developing far more power than the existing twin-cam 1½-litre Coventry-Climax F.2 power unit is envisaged as essential in the comparatively heavy 1961 G.P. cars if anything faintly approaching the performance of the present Grand Prix contenders is to be realised.
Under this threat the F.I.A. will be wise to re-introduce the existing Formula 1, but with a commercial-grade fuel clause, which will have the added advantage that Formula 2 can remain, as before. for 1½-litre cars, backed up by the extremely promising 1,100-c.c, Formula Junior.
THE DAILY MAIL DISLIKES OLD CARS
Like everyone else, the Daily Mail wants to see fewer road accidents. Unlike many people, including MOTOR SPORT and the majority of its readers. the Daily Mail is obsessed with the idea that much of the trouble can he blamed on old cars—-those more than ten years old. It has attacked old cars before and on March 14th returned to the attack, commenting that one cause of road accidents is ” the molly ancient rattle-traps that masquerade as motor cars.” It is anxious to see the long-postponed compulsory tests of old cars introduced and considers 14s. per heed a modest charge for this ” service “to the savagely overtaxed motorist.
Now, it is all very well for the Editor of the Daily Mail to start this ” witch hunt “— it is highly probable that he drives, or is driven, in a rattle-free car. Not everyone can afford a brand-new car, many people even prefer the older ones. Rattles don’t spell accident-proneness. Really unsafe vehicles are quickly apprehended by the police. Yet the Daily Mail returns to its attack on the “Old Faithfuls.”
It’s readers scarcely seem to agree! No letters have been published in favour of the Mail’s last Editorial. One correspondent says that a lot of people are making scapegoats of drivers of old cars but points out that very few such cars do excessive speeds and that most people who drive them are better drivers than those who own modern cars, because the modern cars are so simple, so automatic—which is sound common sense. The only complaint this correspondent can find against the older cars is that they frustrate drivers of fast modern vehicles, who try to pass in ridiculous places and have accidents!
The writer began to read the Mail regularly because he admired its splendid if illegal, London-Paris Air Race. In its persistant attack on the older cars it will probably lose as many readers as the Air Race gained for it. The Daily Mail is anxious to make old cars the scapegoats for road accidents; can it, then, spare us a few lines to answer the following question : Did any vehicles associated with its great Air Races cause any accidents to pedestrian or other vehicles?