Teams will accept fan-backed changes
|By Jonathan Noble||Friday, January 9th 2009, 16:44 GMT|
Teams are ready to accept the adoption of radical ideas in Formula One, such as reverse grids or medals, but only if fans support them.
That is the conclusion that has come out of recent meetings of the Formula One Teams' Association (FOTA), as the body gathers momentum in making changes that will improve the sport over the next few years.
McLaren boss Ron Dennis, speaking on behalf of FOTA, said on Saturday he believed that teams were now ready to embrace any ideas that would improve the sport - but not before thorough market research had proved that it would be beneficial for F1.
Teams are due to receive the results of a global market research survey in the next few weeks that will provide them some answers about the direction fans want to see the sport heading - including whether Bernie Ecclestone's idea for medals to replace points is better.
"The position of the teams is, and I can give you a collective view on it, that we are not particularly against anything that makes F1 better," said Dennis during a special appearance on the central stage at the Autosport International Show.
"But we really believe that it should be driven by knowledge as opposed to intuition and gut feel.
"The teams have financed research and it has been conducted over two months globally, and we will bring into that research the possibility of introducing a new points system, whether it is with medals or whether pole position should carry points to incentivize people to try harder in qualifying, or whether we should adopt monstrously radical things like reversing the grid after awarding points for qualifying.
"That is, for me to say, unheard of. I am a pure motor racer. I am a guy who likes to qualify hard, be the fastest car in front, lead from the front and win by whatever it takes. I am pure. But it can be pretty boring, not to me, but it can be pretty boring for you guys if the race is a procession.
"So we have to be mindful of the fact that those people who are captured by F1, their interest is maintained...we are very, very concerned about playing with the DNA of Formula One and screwing some magic that crosses that audience.
"Our attitude is let's take a scientific approach within the limitations of market research, try and understand what people like about Formula One and play to our strengths, then try to handle our weaknesses.
"If, within that mix, a medal system contributes something, we will embrace it, as will we embrace any idea that comes from anybody. We do not have closed minds. We want to make F1 better for everybody."
Dennis hailed the progress that FOTA had made in reaching agreement on cost cuts, and made it clear that their work was progressing at speed because of a genuine spirit of cooperation - and not because of any outside pressure from the FIA.
"When you look at conflicts and problems in the war, it tends to bring people together. We are fiercely competitive but we have, probably for the first time in the history of F1, we have tended to put aside that very competitive approach we have had – and really focused on the interests of motorsport and the interests of F1.
"Our businesses, because we want to survive and because we want to make F1 stronger, I think it has been a wonderful catalyst.
"There is an understandable perception as people try to portray the efforts of the teams as being implemented as a result of pressures from the various authorities and elements that do have a role in F1, but that is really not the case.
"The whole incentive is to take control of our company's destinies and to look at genuine cost reduction that is not to the detriment of any specific team, but really cost reduction that is across the board of F1 is what our objective has been – and I think it is what we achieved. That same collective approach will be brought to bear on how we make the sport better."