Matters of Moment, December 1993

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Please speak clearly

It is late November. The next Formula One season commences in little over three months, though in real terms there is rather less preparation time available given the inevitable need for teams to test and evaluate products that are destined to carry the hopes of manufacturers into a new, ‘low’ technology era of Formula One.

Which leads us to a pertinent question.

Where, exactly, are the 1994 Formula One regulations and, perhaps more importantly, when are they going to be set in concrete?

We approve the FIA’s current stance, allowing teams to debate technical issues amongst themselves, although we have to say that F1 participants’ inability to police themselves harmoniously in the past means that we might still be waiting for definitive regulations next July. . .

Even so, sudden, authoritarian intervention from the governing body has all too often been met with cries of “Unfair!” when such and such a rule hasn’t met with universal approval in a sporting arena where self-interest has often, in the past, clouded objectivity.

While negotiations go on behind the scenes to define the next generation of Formula One cars to everyone’s satisfaction (and if everyone is at least 90 per cent happy with the eventual outcome, then the current delay will have been worthwhile), we ask only for a couple of things.

Firstly, that the FIA extends this spirit of free debate across the board. It could work in F1. It has worked in Formula 3000, where teams and manufacturers reached an agreement for the common good for 1994 and beyond. We wonder whether there might not now be a nascent international GT championship had the likes of Lotus, Porsche and Jaguar been allowed to formulate mutually acceptable regulations over a year ago?

Secondly, the new F1 regulations must not be open to abuse. There must be no scope for liberal interpretation. At the same time, however, it surely behoves the FIA to establish the ground rules now rather than wait until teams have fought themselves to a standstill. Better that, surely, than leave things for individual race stewards to interpret as they see fit into 1994.

Whatever decisions are eventually taken, they must be communicated in black and white, so that the sport does not run, head-on, into another series of tiresome debates of the kind that have done much to tarnish its image in the past.

S A