FIA race director Charlie Whiting has revealed that the controversial standing restarts idea for 2015 was suggested and supported by the teams, saying that he has “rarely seen such enthusiasm for a new idea”.
The World Motor Sport Council confirmed last week that following a safety car period in 2015, the cars would assemble on the grid and have a standing start much like we see at the beginning of a race. This is intended to add more excitement to a race and add to the show for fans.
Despite it receiving a backlash in the media and among fans, Whiting defended the idea and said that it was in fact put forward by the teams.
“What must be remembered is that this was a suggestion from a team,” he explained on Thursday. “I put it to the other teams and they all agreed that it was a very good idea. In fact, I’ve rarely seen such enthusiasm for a new idea.
“The idea is based on the rationale that the start is the most exciting part of the race in the view of most people and if you can have another one it would also be extremely exciting. This idea was embraced by all the teams at team manager level.It was then discussed by the Formula 1 Strategy Group, which unanimously felt it was a very good way to go to improve the spectacle of Formula 1.
“It then went to the Formula 1 Commission and finally to the World Council. They also felt it was a good thing for Formula 1. The teams were 100% behind it.”
However, when asked about it this morning, Sauber team principal Monisha Kaltenborn did not agree that it would work in this way.
“I think it was a decision taken very quickly,” she said. “If the intention of it is to get more viewers on board because people look at the start and then just switch to another channel, I don’t think you’re really going to change that because nobody is going to sit through the race and think ‘maybe a restart is going to happen’, so I don’t think you’re going to catch those viewers really.”
Kaltenborn revealed that the main support had come from the F1 Strategy Group, of which Sauber is not a member.
“We all were at that table, but it came from the Strategy Group if I am not wrong,” she explained. “All of the decisions, double points, may I remind you of, has come from the Strategy Group. Restarts have come from the Strategy Group, cost control has come from the Strategy Group, so… yes!”
The F1 Strategy Group is made up of only the biggest teams in Formula 1, and has been a particularly contentious matter with Kaltenborn and Sauber due to their lack of power in the sport. Quite clearly, standing restarts – much like double points in Abu Dhabi – will be a point of controversy in 2015, and only time will tell whether it has the desired effect of improving the show.