As the sport’s key decision-making groups met outside London on Tuesday, the Austrian newspaper Kleine Zeitung talked of “the most important meetings for formula one in recent years”.
Indeed, now just days before the end-of-April deadline for agreeing the radical plan, F1 seemed locked in dispute about whether speeding up the cars by widening the chassis and tyres next year is as wise as was earlier touted.
Mercedes’ Toto Wolff is the most outspoken critic of shaking up the current rules, as it emerges that not enough members of the F1 Commission turned out in Biggin Hill on Tuesday to either approve or scrap the 2017 plan.
But the German news agency SID reports that the faster cars are in fact still on track after the meetings.
More uncertain are the touted changes to the engine regulations, amid the FIA’s push for cheaper customer deals and a ‘convergence of performance’ up and down pitlane.
“No solution has been found for the engine regulations,” the SID report explained on Tuesday, “supposedly because several manufacturers were not present for the vote.”
F1 stakeholders will now vote on the future engine regulations by fax prior to the Saturday deadline.
“I think unfortunately what will happen, as is often the case with these things, time will run out at the end of the month and nothing will be achieved and nothing will change,” Red Bull’s Christian Horner predicted recently.
Even if change does eventually come, F1 legend Alain Prost is not sure it will be enough to solve the problem of complex regulations that restrict the freedoms of teams and drivers.
“I remember Mexico in 1990, I started 13th because I sacrificed speed in qualifying to find the best settings for the race, making the car more comfortable and economical to work with the tyres,” he told France’s L’Equipe.
Prost won that race, but he thinks repeating that feat is now essentially impossible as “too much depends on the aerodynamics”.
“F1 must remain F1, with the possibility for a guy who is smart, who has worked hard, who takes a risk, to win. I’m not talking about artificial measures but increasing the number of options that can create intrigue in the race,” he said.
“In my time it was possible to combine different tyres, change at the last moment, hide data to mislead opponents. Now we are far from those days,” added Prost.