The latest FOTA Fans Forum will take place this Wednesday in Barcelona.
Norbert Haug, Eric Boullier and Pastor Maldonado will be among those answering questions from fans at the fifth of these forums.
It’s encouraging to see that, despite its internal problems, FOTA is carrying on its work to let fans have their say on how the sport is run.
FOTA has taken some contentious decisions in recent years which have a had a major effect on the sport. Not least of which the push to implement the controversial Drag Reduction Systems.
This serves to underline why fans should use the forums for their ideal purpose – giving feedback on how F1 is run – and not let the discussion drift off into less productive areas.
Asking the questions that matter
I was impressed by the standard of debate at the last FOTA Fans Forum I attended at the McLaren Technology Centre.
The discussion covered such topics as which countries and tracks F1 should visit, how to make more information available during races such as team radio, and balancing the conflicting demands of cost reduction, entertainment and safety.
But reading the transcript of the most recent forum in Milan, it seems too much time was given over to questions on team and driver performance, turning the event into just another press conference.
Instead of addressing the subject at hand, panellists were asked questions like, “Can you tell us more about the miracle that is Toro Rosso?”, “Nico, how will you get on at Monza this weekend?” and “Will Ferrari win on Sunday?”
Surely the point of the FOTA Fans Forum is for those who watch F1 to explain what they want from the sport to those who can influence it? Not treat it as a ‘fans press conference’ where a select few get to quiz their favourite team on why they’re not winning.
It’s supposed to be a fans forum – not a fanboys forum.
The FOTA panel
The selection of panel members should reflect the point of the forum. For example, an FIA representative should be invited, such as a race steward member or even Jean Todt himself. After all, it is their championship.
At the same time, we should ask whether it serves the purpose of the forum to have drivers attend. Are they likely to be able to effect change in how F1 is run? Not really.
The original FOTA Fans Forum did not rely on driver attendance to attract interest. Paul di Resta was the only driver on the panel, and at the time he was yet to start a Grand Prix.
This video from that forum two years ago gives a good example of how the format should work:
It’s easy to dismiss the FOTA Fans Forum as merely a talking shop – but talking is important when you’re speaking to the people who matter.
If you’ve got an opinion on DRS, team orders, F1’s move away from free-to-air television or any of the other major developments in the sport, this is your chance to quiz the people who make the decisions.
That is a more productive use of the FOTA Fans Forum than having drivers answer exactly the same questions journalists put to them every race weekend.
FOTA Fans Forum: your view
Are you going to the FOTA Fans Forum on Wednesday? Have you been to one before? What subjects do you think they should tackle? Have your say in the comments.
For more information on the forthcoming forum see the FOTA website.
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