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Cost caps and rule changes

May 12th, 2009

Toyota Motorsport President, John Howett, Spain, 2009The FIA recently announced plans to introduce a cost cap of £40m in 2010.  While the cost cap would be voluntary, those teams that signed up for it would be allowed a greater degree of technical freedom than the uncapped teams.

Any team that wishes to compete in the 2010 Championship must complete their application by the end of May and state whether they wish to compete under the cost cap or not.

While some of the smaller teams would be in favour of limiting budgets, the main area of concern for FOTA is that it would create a two-tier championship.  It is estimated that with the freedoms allowed under the cost cap, the cars of those teams that sign up could be two seconds per lap quicker than those of the uncapped teams.

Last week Toyota became the first team to declare they wouldn’t sign up for the 2010 Championship if there was a two-tier system in place but it was a comment by Toyota boss, and FOTA vice-chairman, John Howett that got me thinking.

The FIA own the “FIA Formula One World Championship” so presumably they can do what they want with it, right?  But are there procedures for changing the rules?  Regulations for the regulations, in effect?

This is what Howett said:

The regulations were announced but if you read the regulations, there is a proper process that should be followed and our understanding is that that hasn’t been done.

Article 1.1 of the 2009 F1 Sporting Regulations says:

All changes to the Formula One Technical and/or Sporting Regulations will be made in accordance with the procedures set out in Appendix 5.

and Apendix 5 states:

1. Changes to the Technical Regulations will be proposed by the Technical Working Group (TWG) consisting of one senior technical representative from each team and chaired by a representative of the FIA.

2. Changes to the Sporting Regulations will be proposed by the Sporting Working Group (SWG) consisting of one senior representative from each team and chaired by a representative of the FIA.

3. Decisions in the TWG and SWG will be taken by a simple majority vote. The FIA representative will not vote unless the teams’ representatives are equally divided, in which case he will exercise a casting vote.

I’m not really sure what this means.  Are the regulations valid for one year (and one year only) or do they carry on until a new set of rules replaces them?

If it is the case that there are “The Rules” which apply from their date of effect then it looks like the FIA cannot just arbitrarily decide to change them without consulting the teams.  In fact it looks like all changes to the rules must come from either the TWG or the SWG.

Maybe I’m missing something.  You can read the full regulations here, and if anyone can give me a definitive answer I’d love to hear it.

I’m starting to like the idea of a budget cap with increased technical freedom but the teams are always saying that one of the best ways to reduce costs is to stop messing with the rules.

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