Formula 1 - Formula 1 in limbo over 2014 rules

Formula 1's bid to get 2014's regulations nailed down has been left in a state of limbo by the lack of a Concorde Agreement.

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Bernie Ecclestone

After years when the governance structure was laid out clearly by the famous tripartite agreement between the teams, the FIA and the commercial rights holder, F1 is currently without any such deal in place, or an accord to carry on operating under the terms of the previous one as has happened before.

It means the former structure of rules getting debated and approved in Technical and Sporting Working Groups, ratified by the Formula 1 Commission and then rubber-stamped by the FIA's World Council, is no more.

Now, the SWG and TWG do not officially exist - although what has become known as a 'Sporting Committee' and 'Technical Committee' made up of the same representatives still meet up.

This week's meeting of the sporting members in Barcelona did succeed in approving some rules, like the introduction of a licence penalty points system and extra tyres for the first 30 minutes of FP1 for 2014.

But it is where such agreed rules changes go now that has highlighted areas of confusion.

With no Concorde Agreement governing the sport, the only course of action is for the regulation tweaks to go straight to the next meeting of the FIA's WMSC and be put in the 2014 rules.

It also means that the WMSC could have to make a call on decisions that do not appear totally clear cut, like the composition of pre-season testing next year with there being a 5/5/1 split of opinion between the teams about how it should actually be made up.

This state of affairs means that the members of the planned replacement F1 Commission - made up of teams, an FIA representative, an FOM representative, six promoters and an engine manufacturer – can have no say until the body is formally created in the Concorde Agreement.

The only way they could get consulted is if the Concorde Agreement is signed before the June WMSC meeting.

The situation is difficult although not completely desperate right now. But there are fears that it could become harder in the next few months, when there is likely to be a push to make rules tweaks to help the transition to the 2014 regulations as painless as possible.

If those troubles arise, then there is a radical alternative should the FIA wish to take that path.

Under its own International Sporting Code, the FIA can make any change it wants to the sporting regulations as late as just 20 days before entries for the 2014 world championship open.

That means should the rule-making process really hit the buffers with teams failing to agree on matters, and with 2014 entries due to open on June 30, the FIA could in theory do what it wants until the start of next month, bypassing the teams and Bernie Ecclestone completely.

In the absence of a Concorde Agreement, the only regulation that applies to future changes of the regulations is governed by the FIA's International Sporting Code.

Article 199 of the ISC documents what the governing body is allowed to do – and in theory it is able to do as it wants with the sporting regulations until just 20 days before entries open for the following year's championship.

This is what Article 199 of the ISC says...

The FIA may make such changes as it deems necessary to the regulations. Such changes will be published and will come into effect in accordance with the following provisions.

a) Safety

Changes that the FIA makes to the regulations for safety reasons may come into effect without notice or delay.

b) Technical design of the vehicle

Changes to technical regulations or to Appendix J, adopted by the FIA, will be published no later than 30 June each year and come into effect no earlier than 1 January of the year following their publication, unless the FIA considers that the changes in question are likely to have a substantial impact on the technical design of the vehicle and/or the balance of performance between the cars, in which case they will come into effect no earlier than 1 January of the second year following their publication. Changes concerning Formula One come into effect in accordance with the regulations specific to that category.

c) Sporting rules and other regulations

Changes to sporting rules and to all regulations other than those referred to in b) above are published at least 20 days prior to the opening date for entry applications for the championship concerned, but never later than 15 December each year. Such changes cannot come into effect before 1 January of the year following their publication, unless the FIA considers that the changes in question are likely to have a substantial impact on the technical design of the vehicle and/or the balance of performance between the cars, in which case they will come into effect no earlier than 1 January of the second year following their publication.

d) Shorter notice periods than those mentioned in b) and c) may be applied, provided that the unanimous agreement of all competitors properly entered for the championship or series concerned is obtained.

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