Dennis outlines his vision for the sport
|By Simon Strang||Wednesday, April 2nd 2008, 10:36 GMT|
McLaren team principal Ron Dennis has called for an evolutionary, rather than revolutionary, approach to shaping Formula One's future, after outlining his vision for the sport over the next decade in a presentation to delegates at the Motor Sport Business Forum in Bahrain.
Following his speech, Dennis, the CEO and president of the McLaren Group, earned a prolonged standing ovation as well as public praise from the CEO of Honda's F1 team, Nick Fry, and Red Bull Racing team principal Christian Horner, who were also speaking at the event.
"I passionately believe that the most glorious chapters of Formula One history are yet to come," said Dennis.
"As long as we maintain systems that encourage competitive racing via regulatory stability, and foster entrepreneurial freedom, yet reflect the world's changing environmental priorities, then the future of F1 can be every bit as glorious as we want it to be."
Dennis called for the sport's rule-makers to ensure new regulations maintain stability within the sport and contain, or even lower, team's operating budgets through sustained and measured evolution rather than widespread sweeping changes.
"For F1 to continue to thrive in the way it has thrived all these years, we'll need rules that foster freedom of entrepreneurship, but we'll also need rules that encourage close and competitive racing," he said.
"If we can frame those rules in such a way as to keep costs in check, or even reduce costs, so much the better.
"Because every time the rules are changed, the result is almost always a cost increase. And, because the smaller teams are perhaps less able to meet those cost increases, they may not respond as effectively to a rule change as their more affluent competitors.
"Yet we must change the rules, because the world is changing. But, because we also need regulatory stability, our rule changes must be evolutionary, not revolutionary."
Dennis said it was clear that F1 is not immune to the environmental challenges facing the world and applauded the FIA's efforts to shape the sport's future in this regard.
"We must respond to environmental concerns - and, as I've said, perhaps that response may require rule changes," he said.
"KERS, or Kinetic Energy Recovery Systems, if developed prudently, will be a sensible and innovative system whereby the waste heat produced by braking can be harnessed and re-used in a way that may be adapted and then adopted by the production cars of the future.
"F1 is uniquely well-placed to showcase and spread awareness of environmental messages... and the FIA has shown great enlightenment in showing the way so early."
But Dennis also warned against regulations that effected the sport's ability to remain at the 'pinnacle of motorsport' and said that a great deal of thought must go in to shaping the rulebook to ensure F1's continued success.
"F1 must remain the pinnacle of motorsport - from an engineering point of view as well as from every other point of view," he said.
"The day when F1 stakeholders - and I include F1 fans in that categorisation - begin to doubt F1's status as the pinnacle of motor sport, we are lost.
"We need to make F1 less expensive, too, and we need to do that very carefully as well," he added.
"In order for F1 to continue to thrive in the way it has thrived over the past half-century, we must foster an environment wherein entrepreneurship can continue to flourish freely.
"Entrepreneurship remains essential to the future development of F1.
"If all the current F1 teams are to be involved fruitfully in terms of the profitable enjoyment of every F1 stakeholder, and if the six major car manufacturers currently involved in F1 are to continue to maximise the return on their investment – Mercedes-Benz or Daimler, of course, but also Ferrari or Fiat, Renault, BMW, Honda and Toyota, then the rules by which we go motor racing must be conducive to that entrepreneurship."