Martin Whitmarsh has described as 'very positive' the resolution reached by the F1 Commission yesterday (Wednesday) to delay the introduction of the sport's new engine formula by a year to 2014 and plump for V6 units rather than just four cylinders – adding that he hopes the regulations will be 'relevant, interesting and stimulating' enough to entice new manufacturers to join the grand prix grid.
Following months of debate and starkly contrasting proposals put forward by FIA President Jean Todt, commercial rights-holder Bernie Ecclestone and F1 teams, a compromise of sorts was finally found to appease all sides [see separate story – click here
]. Whilst it still requires final ratification from the governing body's World Motor Sport Council (WMSC) early next week, Whitmarsh is confident that it is very much a step in the right direction.
“I'm happy that we have agreement between the manufacturers,” confessed the Formula One Teams' Association (FOTA) chairman, speaking during a special Vodafone McLaren-Mercedes Phone-In Session. “They have all overwhelmingly agreed and endorsed this decision, which I think is extremely positive. There has clearly been a range of different opinions expressed, so to achieve a consensus between all the parties I feel is very positive.
“I think in the long run, we should make sure we are attractive to a range of automotive manufacturers; they will, according to their needs and priorities, come in and out of F1, which is what has happened throughout the sport's history.
“The world has just gone through an economic crisis, and the automotive industry has had the largest recession in its entire history. Our timing [in initially aiming for 2013] was a little premature and a little bit too condensed. I hope for the sake of F1 that new manufacturers find the regulations relevant, interesting and stimulating and consequently at some time in the future come into the sport.”
Replacing his FOTA hat with his McLaren team principal's cap, Whitmarsh went on to stress that there is 'no temptation' for the company to build its own F1 engines under the new regulations, arguing that such a move 'doesn't make sense'. Rather, he insists, he is satisfied with the 'extremely beneficial' brand exposure that the Woking-based outfit's on-track success provides for its road-going supercar division, describing the sport as an 'incredibly powerful marketing opportunity'.
As to the rather more imminent change in the rules – that regarding off-throttle blown diffusers from next month's British Grand Prix at Silverstone – the Englishman admitted that in what is 'quite a complex area', the precise details of the clampdown are 'still a little bit up-in-the-air' and revealed that the teams are continuing to talk to the FIA and awaiting further clarification over 'the next ten days or so'. In the meantime, he added, mechanical and aerodynamic development can continue apace.