Fernley: F1 Strategy Group not fit for purpose

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Force India deputy team principal Bob Fernley has launched an attack on the Formula 1 Strategy Group, saying that it is unfit for purpose following its latest meeting in England last week.

The F1 Strategy Group is made up of representatives from just six of the ten F1 teams, but holds a great deal of power in determining the future direction for the sport.

Last week, the decision was taken to push for a faster F1 from 2017 by dramatically changing the current technical regulations, despite the current rules only being introduced 14 months ago.

The decision to rewrite the regulations has split opinion within the sport, and many of the smaller teams have become increasingly frustrated by the lack of focus on important issues such as cost control.

Speaking in the FIA press conference on Thursday, Fernley made his thoughts on the Strategy Group clear, calling for a more autocratic rule of F1 by the FIA and the commercial rights holder, the F1 Group.

“I think that the problem I have is that I don’t think the Strategy Group is fit for purpose and we should be looking at something where we have a clear programme that delivers results,” Fernley said.

“We’ve have 18 months or 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 Max [Mosley] and Bernie [Ecclestone] in charge, there would be none of that. We would know exactly where we’re going.

“I don’t think you should have the teams making decisions on where Formula 1 should go. The teams should be told where Formula 1 is going.”

When asked whether the Strategy Group had had its day, Fernley was abrupt, saying: “Well I don’t think it ever had its day. End of story.”

The idea of a more autocratic control of F1 was supported by Red Bull team principal Christian Horner, who said that a division in the teams’ goals was inevitable.

“It’s rather predictable: Bob’s going to ask for more money, Toto [Wolff, Mercedes team boss] is going to not want to change anything and we want to change engines,” Horner said. “So every team has got its own agenda and it’s going to fight its own corner.

“I think that the sport is governed by the FIA and it’s promoted by FOM. It’s those guys that need to get together and say ‘what do we want Formula 1 to be?’ Yes, we want it to go quicker, we want cars to be more aggressive to drive – but you’re never going to keep everybody happy.

“I think that Bernie and Jean [Todt, FIA president] need to get together and say ‘this is what we want the product to be, this is how it needs to be governed,’ and then give us the entry form and see if we want to enter or not.

“Because I think putting it in the team’s environment to try and agree a set of regulations – you’re never going to get everybody on the same piece of paper.”

Red Bull driver Verstappen wins Formula One’s Brazilian GP

NELSON ALMEIDA/AFP via Getty Images
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Red Bull’s Max Verstappen won Formula One’s Brazilian Grand Prix on Sunday for his eighth career victory in a race which ended disastrously for both Ferrari drivers.

Verstappen controlled nearly all the race at Interlagos, which saw a dramatic late collision between Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel and Charles Leclerc when they fought for the fourth position. Both failed to finish.

Toro Rosso’s Pierre Gasly got his first F1 podium after finishing second ahead of six-time F1 champion Lewis Hamilton. The Mercedes driver was third but faces an investigation after an incident that caused Red Bull’s Alexander Albon to spin.

Hamilton, who won at Interlagos in 2018, said Verstappen was “just quicker than us on the straights” and “there was nothing more we could do.”

Dutch driver Verstappen said “Lewis was very quick so I had to keep pushing… we had two good moves with him, and from there onward I could control the race.”

McLaren’s Carlos Sainz was fourth, and could be promoted to third if Hamilton is punished.

The Brazilian GP on Sunday was the penultimate race of the season, with only Abu Dhabi left on Dec.1.

Hamilton had already secured the season title in the previous race in the United States. His Mercedes teammate Valtteri Bottas, who did not finish the race, had also secured the runner-up spot.