May 13 (GMM/Inautonews.com) Even the normally low-profile Donald Mackenzie and Jean Todt are looking ahead to Thursday’s critical meeting of the powerful Strategy Group.
Faced with the sport’s stakeholders baying collectively for urgent change, all of the most influential F1 figures will get together on Thursday at F1 supremo Bernie Ecclestone’s airport facility at Biggin Hill, UK.
As trackside and television audiences decline, race promoters complain and potential sponsors and carmakers show reluctance to enter, Mackenzie has got involved.
He is the powerful chief of CVC, the controlling shareholder of F1, and essentially Ecclestone’s boss.
Mackenzie, not usually centrally involved or seen, has been at the most recent grands prix in Bahrain and Spain. And now he will also be at Biggin Hill.
Red Bull is perhaps the loudest voice urging regulations change, but Dr Helmut Marko is not confident about Thursday’s meeting.
“The system with the FIA, FOM and the teams does not work,” he charged. “You cannot always ask everybody what they want — there should be an independent mechanism.”
Eddie Jordan agrees: “I have known Bernie for years, and his greatest successes were achieved as a dictator.
“He is of course an absolute dictator, but it has just been taken out of his hands.”
Interestingly, however, the now extremely low-profile FIA president Todt was also at the Spanish grand prix, and it is believed he met in Barcelona with Mackenzie and Ecclestone.
While it is the big teams like Ferrari, Mercedes and Red Bull who dominate the Strategy Group publicly, it is the CVC-controlled and Ecclestone-led FOM and Todt’s FIA who actually control 12 of the group’s 18 votes.
As a unified front, they may be able to push through some key reforms for 2017, with former quadruple world champion Alain Prost summing up the appetite for the future.
“We need more power,” he told Servus TV, “we need fatter tyres, a reduced influence of aerodynamics, more mechanical grip.
“This is important because sometimes I have the impression that even the drivers are not enjoying anymore,” Prost added.
And Mercedes chairman Niki Lauda told Auto Motor und Sport: “My suggestion? Reduce the mimimum weight, forget the flow rate, keep the V6 turbo but everything else is free.”