Todt’s influence clear as FIA rings the changes

Jean Todt © FIA

Praise the lord and pass the ammunition. A brace of changes lie in store for Formula 1 next season, as Jean Todt made good on his election promises and helped push through some much needed alterations to the manner in which the sport will be run in the coming years at today’s FIA World Motor Sport Council meeting.

First up, a new points system. 25 for the winner, 20 for second, 15 for third, 10 for fourth then 8, 6, 5, 3, 2, 1 going down to tenth place. The increase in the number of drivers scoring points reflects the increase in grid size and is, frankly, an excellent idea. The points differential for the top three also does what Bernie Ecclestone had wanted to do through his bonkers medals idea, which was to make a win mean considerably more than second place and thus improve the prospect of somebody pushing that extra bit harder to overtake.

Second, and long overdue, Mr Todt has managed to unite consensus within the WMSC to overhaul the outdated and ineffectual stewarding process which had thrown up so many dodgy decisions over the past few seasons. Spa 2008 anyone?

Here’s the official blurb:

A smaller permanent group of F1 Stewards will sit with experienced former F1 drivers to provide a permanent panel of three FIA stewards, together with one steward representing the National Sporting Authority, to deal with F1 at each Grand Prix.

There will no longer be a non-voting Chairman and each group of stewards will elect their own Chairman amongst themselves for each race. Utilising video and radio exchanges they should aim to reach decisions very efficiently.

The current observer programme for F1 stewards will continue, and training, distribution of decisions, and an annual meeting will be encouraged to raise the quality of decisions in this permanent group.

What does that mean? Basically it means Max Mosley’s bezzie mate Alan Donnely (non-voting, but hugely influential stewards Chairman) is out of a job. It also means that the cry of the media, the sport at large, and even the drivers has been heeded and former racers will sit on a stewarding panel. Seems such a simple idea, doesn’t it? And the fact it has taken a new President to push it through gives us a small glimpse of just what a barrier to the advancement of common sense in the sport Max Mosley really had become in the latter stages of his Presidency.

There will also be newly appointed F1 Ambassadors, pulled from the membership of the World Council for each event.

The Ambassador will liaise with the National Sporting Authority (ASN) and organising team at the circuit. He will also meet with the ASN President, FIA VIP guests, Formula One Management, F1 Teams and other stakeholders and act as an Ambassador of FIA sport.

Anything else? Well actually, yes. One of Todt’s biggest election pledges has been incorporated into the FIA’s structure at the first opportunity with the announcement of the creation of the role of Comissioner for each FIA championship. Here’s the official blurb again…

Commissioners for the FIA World Championships will be appointed by the World Motor Sport Council on the proposal of the President of the FIA.

The commissioners report directly to the President of the FIA and, at the request of the President, to the Deputy President of the FIA for Sport or to other members of the World Motor Sport Council.

The commissioners will be present at each event of the World Championship for which they have been appointed and their role is to serve as permanent liaison for the various stakeholders involved (ASNs, promoters, organisers, manufacturers, teams, officials, suppliers, etc.).

They are also tasked with supervising the general running of the Championship and its development on behalf of the FIA.

The commissioners are not empowered to take decisions or to perform any other act of a regulatory nature which may come under the remit (sporting, technical, organisational or disciplinary) accorded to the officials of the event by the International Sporting Code.

The appointment of the commissioners will allow the FIA President to focus on the strategic development of the FIA and in particular to further encourage the synergies between mobility and motor sport.

The Calendar was also confirmed, with Abu Dhabi switching places with Brazil to become the final round of the season, as it was in 2009.

But the biggest and best news is that Jean Todt’s reign as President of the FIA is having an immediate impact. His suggestions for change have been sensible and structured and in some cases have righted problems which have existed within the sport for far too long. Most importantly of all, he is already respected enough within the association to be able to get his amendments voted through with little fuss.

All in all, it has been a good news day for Formula 1. Not only has today’s meeting of the world council reinforced the feeling that a new era of governance has swept over the FIA, but that in Jean Todt the body has a President with the strength and motivation to push Formula 1 in a direction that will benefit the sport first and foremost.