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Whitmarsh: There is no magic wand for F1

27 January 2010

Newly elected Formula One Teams' Association (FOTA) chairman Martin Whitmarsh has said that while they will 'continue to develop ideas and changes' to improve the sport, he has also warned 'we mustn't tear F1 inside out overnight'.

Whitmarsh was confirmed as the new chairman last week taking over the post from Ferrari president Luca di Montezemolo, who relinquished the role following a year-and-a-half at the helm.

While Whitmarsh is keen to see the sport evolve, he emphasised that the teams must work with the sports governing body, the FIA, and Bernie Ecclestone's FOM, Formula One Management, if the sport is to really prosper.

"FOTA has put a lot of effort into reducing costs in F1, and that will increase the likelihood of teams surviving and hopefully thriving," stated Whitmarsh, who is of course the McLaren-Mercedes team principal as well as the new FOTA chairman. "We've had a number of interesting initiatives, but there is no magic wand.

"FOTA will continue to develop ideas and changes, but we mustn't tear the sport inside out overnight. We're conscious of the need to cultivate the sport's reputation while also enhancing the spectacle. FOTA needs to continue working with the FIA, CVC and FOM to achieve that, and that's a continuous process.

"We have a range of ideas, so has Bernie, so we have to work together, rather than have FOTA say what it's going to do. We want to continue doing our bit and to contribute in the best possible way to improve our sport."

Asked if there are plans to do more fan research, Whitmarsh confirmed that they will do more in 2010: "We've commissioned what is, in my view, the only broad-based fan survey that will take into account the opinions of those who aren't hardcore F1 fans. It's those fans with a mild or passing interest in F1 that we need to concentrate on, because we can convert them into more avid fans," he explained.

"The survey we conducted last year enabled us to learn some very useful and interesting things, we are now looking at canvassing an even broader range of opinion-holders in order to bring in a far more detailed series of responses. It's an ongoing project, and we still have more work to do before releasing any findings."

As for the importance of the environment, Whitmarsh noted it is something FOTA wants to find ways in which it can contribute – although he added it is not something that can be done overnight.

"For the future, F1 needs to be about efficiency, so we have to ensure we develop regulations that encourage the development of technologies that aren't just a benefit to the automotive sector, but to society in general. We want to be seen as making our contribution, just as every business has to," he stated. "But it's a balance at the moment.

"We have a lot of new teams entering the sport, and they'll have a number of significant challenges ahead of them. If we start to load a number of new environmental challenges onto them, it will make their lives more difficult. But we're confident we can make progress over the next few years."


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