F1’s Strategy Group is “not fit for purpose”

2015 F1 season

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Formula One’s Strategy Group has come under further criticism for being “not fit for purpose” after failing to address key grievances such as costs and revenue distribution at its last meeting.

Force India deputy team principal Bob Fernley complained that issues of substance were largely ignored during its last meeting, which resulted in a series of proposals intended to make cars quicker.

“After 18 months I think we’ve failed totally to agree on any form of cost control,” said Fernley. “There’s absolutely no way there’s going to be any redistribution of income. Power units are going to remain the same. And whilst I agree there’s some good discussions on [2017] the fundamentals of Formula One weren’t addressed at all.”

“I don’t think the Strategy Group is fit for purpose,” stated Fernley. “We should be looking at something where we’ve got a clear programme which delivers results.”

“We’ve had 18 months, two years of Strategy Group work with nothing coming out of it. I think we need to look at the system in a better way. In days gone by, with [former FIA president] Max [Mosley] and Bernie [Ecclestone] in charge, there would have been none of that, we would know exactly where we were going.

“I don’t think you should have the teams making decisions on where Formula One should go, the teams should be told where Formula One should go.”

“Whatever solutions we come up with, it’s all shit”

However Mercedes motorsport director Toto Wolff warned that “if we wish for dictatorship I can see us sitting here in two years and complaining it’s going in the wrong direction”.

Wolff expressed frustration that details of Strategy Group meetings made their way into the media and were often negatively received. “Whatever we discuss in the Strategy Group, bizarrely, ends up in the media ten minutes later or even earlier during the discussions,” he said.

“Sometimes we need to make up our mind in there and discuss. We don’t have always the same opinion but it’s a matter of pushing the sport forward for the sake of the sport.

“Whatever solutions we come up, it’s all shit. We’re discussing about making the cars faster, five or six seconds, wider tyres, more spectacular cars, more G-forces, the things we’ve mentioned before, and we’ve talked about refuelling.

“And the only thing I can read after the meeting is that refuelling doesn’t make sense. Interestingly you asked the drivers yesterday on the very same podium and they all love it.

“So I think we must stop talking the sport down. I have mentioned it a couple of times in here. One of the rules we have established – and Bob is obviously new to the group so maybe we have to emphasise this – is we shouldn’t talk the sport down and we should push the sport up. We need all of you, plus us, to emphasise the good points and the attractive bits of the sport and try to make it better. It’s not always an easy exercise.”

However Red Bull team principal Christian Horner conceded some changes need to be made in terms of how F1’s rules are drawn up.

“The only thing the Strategy Group has unanimously agreed on and implemented this year is the fact the drivers should wear the same crash helmet [design] for an entire season,” he said.

“Is that a success of the group? Not really. Is it a worthwhile forum? I think it is. But I think that the structure of how regulations are implemented, that’s what we need to look at.”

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Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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39 comments on “F1’s Strategy Group is “not fit for purpose””

  1. “not fit for purpose”

    For sure. Everybody is to blame. Nobody is responsible. Nothing is accountable. All interests are self serving.

    The participants could be on a life raft with the ability to save everyone if they would just agree on a sensible solution and they would still end up in disagreement drowning each other and themselves in the process.

    Some have called the “strategy group” a formula for disaster. It’s more like this is Formula 0…

    What will change this situation? More important, who or what can change this situation?

    1. I think the guys running WEC have figured it out, or rather the guys running F1 had it “figured” out.

  2. What’s wrong with figuring something out for yourself?

    1. Nothing wrong basically. But, quite often ‘something’ becomes everything. That’s the problem.

  3. Michael Brown
    21st May 2015, 18:13

    Well, yeah. They’re basically trying to undo the changes of 2009-2010

  4. If they won’t take the teams completely out of the equation, the first simple solution is to give every team a voice on the strategy group. Yes, we’ll end up with bloc-voting based around parent companies/engine partners, but it also means more weight can get behind getting cost-capping on the agenda, even if it means most of the teams and Jean Todt out-voting Bernie!

  5. The system is more crooked than USA’s democracy.

  6. Fernley: “I don’t think you should have the teams making decisions on where Formula One should go, the teams should be told where Formula One should go.”

    this has to be the most truthful words I have heard on here. This statement is the key to success, if no one can see that then the same will continue.

    1. As long as they don’t ask the fans, I’m happy. You just need to look at these comment threads to see it’s a complete clusterf…

    2. The teams don’t decide where F1 goes. At best they can give suggestions to the FIA.

      DTM is governed by the teams themselves and they seem to be doing just fine.

      1. DTM is only three manufacturers from the same country fielding only factory cars,the series can’t do without them so it makes sense.
        In F1 there are 10 teams and the privateers -which the sport can’t do without- that helped develop the sport aren’t listened to so the best compromise is to not listen to the manufacturers either and just tell them what to do. That is how i see it.

        1. Wrong. There are other teams besides the 3 manufacturers in DTM. These don’t get a say, but that would be the same in F1.

  7. The strategy group should be abolished.

    1. The strategy group should be abolished.

      No. Then who will come up with F1 saving brilliance like the helmet change ban?

      1. FIA/FOM came up with that one themselves (Todt and Ecclestone).

        The teams didn’t want it, but they didn’t want to give up sponsor room on their cars for bigger numbers either. So helemt ban it was.

  8. This is all FIA’s fault. Not Bernie, not the teams… it’s the governing body that’s at fault for not imposing any limits.

    You cannot let huge companies with monetary interests to decide on anything. They’ll all pull to their side and that’s totally understandable. But it’s the FIA that has to act. They cannot take years developing ideas via the Overtaking Group and 5 years later, adopt those ideas dropped by that same group.

    It’s all a waste of time. It’s a huge conflict of interests…

    BRING BACK MAX MOSLEY ! (I never thought I’d say that)

    1. Not to mention that having a “Strategy Group” made out of teams has the inherent danger of allowing people that might not be there in sucessive years to make viceral decisions that could well not be interesting for new partners along the way.

      If Red Bull quits, like they threaten to do all the time this year, why are they there discussing ideas for the next few years?.

      Again, teams should not be responsable for the decisions. It should be the FIA.

    2. Mosley is the reason we are in this mess. Remember, it was him who sold F1 for peanuts money, so that it can be controlled by Bernie and now CVC.

      1. Mosley sold the commercial rights – Yes, they were massively undersold (ok, that’s an understatement), but the EU required the FIA not be involved in the commercial aspects of the sport, so a sale had to be made.

        What was *totally* despicable, was Jean Todt selling the right to govern the sport in exchange for a pittance into the FIA coffers once every so often so he can fund his political aspirations. For a man who likes to govern by consensus, he totally sold his ability to do so, instead welcoming his opponents to shout him down.

  9. honestly the prospect that f1 might return to refueling absolutely terrifies me.

    not because of the safety issues but more because if they do it & like many of those against it (me included) say it ends up been bad for racing then we are going to be stuck with it & are going to again have to suffer through those dull pit dominated strategy races.

    i fear, i really fear that there going to do the wrong thing and bring it back & that it is going to harm the racing & that its just going to be something were again going to have to suffer through or switch off & this time round i can see myself just switching off because i dont want to sit through those sort of borefest fuel strategy games again.

  10. I think the fact that somebody within the ‘Strategy’ Group itself has said that it isn’t fit for purpose speaks volumes.

    1. I think Force India’s days are numbered and Bob Fernley is praying for a benevolent dictator to keep FI from falling through the cracks next time the rules are changed.

    2. It’s unfit for what his teams wants. If “they” wanted cost control the FIA and FOM delegates would outnumber the F1 delegates and could push that through. It’s not just the five F1 top teams holding that back.

      1. @patrick indeed. Bernie knows cost control & financial redistribution is needed, but he knows in order to properly do it, he would have to cancel all the individual contracts with the teams at his/FOM’s expense.

        Instead, he keeps pushing the V8 agenda like a broken record, hoping either the FIA or the teams will side with him and force a regulation change that will allow him to dodge falling on his sword.

        On the same measure, the majority of the teams will never side with the FIA on the matter because they are financially aligned with FOM.

  11. The problem I see is the Strategy Group got into areas that “ain’t broke”, e.g. going back to in race refueling, and as the old saying goes, “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it”. The things that are “broke”, such as falling viewing audiences and teams struggling to survive, weren’t dealt with.

    1. People are complaining the cars are too slow and races last too long. Refuelling would “fix” that.

      The falling viewing audiences are because of FOM wanting to extract ever more money from F1 and putting F1 races behind decoders in more and more countries. FIA and the teams cannot do anything about that.

      1. The cars are too slow because they keep reducing the downforce to ‘make the cars harder to drive’, meaning they’re slower in the corners. Everyone knows the V6 Turbos are faster in a straight line than the V8 ever were and would be much better in the corners if they weren’t robbed of downforce by the banning of the rear beam wing and changes to the front nose/wing.

        1. The cars are too slow because of the tyres and the massive fuel load at the start.

          The difference between lap in Q3 and in the race is too big.

  12. There is no use for complaining for Fernley, if he thinks his team and others are discriminated he should apeal to the European Commission at once, they will take care of the “Strategy Group” and other cartel wise F1 constructions. It´s the only reasonable way to do if you look at the F1 stalemate.

    1. The problem Force India are in is they’re in the same position Lotus were last year – they’re in a vague ‘rule-making’ position as the 6th seat, but because of their financial troubles, they’re almost certain to lose it next year, meaning any long-term clout they have is limited. Still, they got to wave their willy a little bit and kicked Manor to the kerb…

      They’re basically the F1 equivalent of the Liberal Democrats!

    2. There is a reason that the teams do not complain with the European Commission. Because the European commission will not find a monopoly in F1 and the strategy group.

      Number 1
      The teams on the strategy group is all so the teams that losses the most money in the sport.
      Merc, Ferrari and Red Bull are the teams that losses the most money in a year in F1. It does not matter if they can afforded it or not.

      Number 2
      Lawfully there is nothing wrong with they way the money is divided among the teams.
      There are no laws that says that you have to divided the money in a way to keep all teams financially
      viable. There is also no law agianst some one to pay a team to take part in the sport it happens in a lot of sports.

      Number 3
      All teams get the changes to vote on the ideas the strategy group comes up with.
      The strategy group can not implement any rules or changes them selfs before there has been a vote by all teams in the sport.

      Number 4
      The FIA can still make changes to the sport with out the consent of the teams.
      The FIA still have the full wright to changes the rules with out the consent of the teams. They do not need any of the teams to agree with a rule they want to implement they just need to decide to do it.

      Number 5
      There is no law that says that any team or teams need to keep the playing field financially equal.
      This is the part that a lot of ppl do not understand or those how understand it do mot like. There is no country on the earth that will make a rule that says that all teams must have the same amount of money to compete in a sport. The reason is that it will destroy sports. Every time a team with less money enters the other teams must lower there budgets to compete.

  13. petebaldwin (@)
    21st May 2015, 22:02

    Absolutely spot on Bob. The governing body should govern the rules of the sport. It should take into account what the teams want and would have to in order to keep everyone in the sport but the reality is that any solition is going to benefit some teams more than others so they’ll never all agree. Someone needs to be in control!

  14. Not fit for purpose;
    1. Pirelli tyres
    2. 2015 Renault engines
    3. Strategy group
    4. Jean Todt
    5. Bernie Ecclestone

    1. @hohum I hope that’s not in any specific order..?

      1. There’s meat at each end and stuffing in the middle.

  15. “Interestingly you asked the drivers yesterday on the very same podium and they all love it”.

    Drivers don’t pay for watching the sport. As we’ve heard from recent interviews some drivers just want to go faster. Others look at the times of refueling with nostalgia, because those were their times, not because it was better for the sport. It’s disappointing, but it looks like some drivers don’t want better racing.

  16. I really don’t see a problem with F1. I’m enjoying it now as much as I ever have. The relative popularity of something will always wax and wane. What appeals to me may not appeal to my sons or daughters but their kids may love it etc.

    This so called crisis? F1 has seen worse days and it came through simply because there was a demand for this type of sporting event. If that demand dries up then no amount of strategy group manoeuvring can save it. There is an end to everything after all…

  17. It’s amazing how in F1 if there is a problem with something everything must be changed from engines, tires, helmets, grid people, fuel, points system, qualifying rules, strategy bodies, corners, sponsors, every single thing right now is being questioned and could potentially change within a few years.

    IMO, the only changes that should be made to address the problems we have at the moment are
    1.) Longer lasting tires so drivers can push hard for a longer period. Same tire change rules and same single manufacturer is fine.
    2.) Less restriction on fuel, again so drivers can push harder.
    3.) No DRS

    These alone will result in the formula getting faster at the least cost. Everything else will just add more meaningless randomness to the race results.

    1. i agree with 1 +2 especially more fuel, but something has to be done about the aero to promote overtaking. permit more ground effect so less turbulence and the cars can get closer.

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