FIA proposes F1 weight handicapping

Weight handicapping successful F1 cars is one of a range of radical proposals for improving the TV show which will be discussed by the FIA F1 Commission on October 28, according to media reports this morning. Fixed aerodynamic configurations, the 'one-engine' rule, two 30-minute qualifying sessions and a severe curb on testing are also in an FIA dossier outlining a package of proposals, designed both to reverse the present decline in viewing figures and save costs

FIA proposes F1 weight handicapping

FIA president Max Mosley told The Times newspaper in the UK: "Handicapping runs counter to the traditions of F1, but sometimes you find yourself in a position where you can keep your traditions, but no one cares - because they're not watching."

The FIA had never set out to stifle technical development in this way, until a precedent was established earlier this year. The world governing body applied weight penalties for the first time in its history, at mid-season in its FIA European Touring Car Championship, apparently in a bid to halt the domination of Alfa Romeo. Only last week, the FIA formally "agreed to the principle of weight ballast being added to successful cars to discourage intensive technical developments" in a confirmation of this ETCC regulation by the World Motor Sport Council.

It is believed that, if and when any driver achieved a lead of a certain number of points in a future F1 World Championship, his car would thereafter have to carry an unspecified weight handicap (possibly 1kg for each point, equivalent to 0.3sec a lap on many F1 circuits). Ferrari's Michael Schumacher went into the fifth round of the 2002 series already with a 24-point lead.

Instead of changing the aerodynamic setup of its car at each race, each team would have to register a configuration with FIA inspectors prior to the season, and no changes to that specification would be allowed until the season midpoint, states The Times.

The newspaper also understands that the FIA will press for the present 60-minute Saturday qualifying session to be replaced by two 30-minute sessions, one on Friday and the other on Saturday, with the grid positions decided on an aggregate of the best lap-times from each session. Currently the cars are often kept in their pit garages for the first 20min or more of the one-hour session, to the detriment of the TV (and trackside spectator) show. Any driver not able to run in either of these sessions would count his best and worst lap from a single session.

Mosley added: "We have radical ideas to make the spectacle more exciting and save costs on a massive scale. Costs have gone up while income has gone down, and now TV companies will want to pay less because audiences are falling. We need to put that right before any more teams go out of business. It's that urgent and that important."

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