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Does the FIA Need Stability Control?

There is some talk of stability control being introduced into F1 in the future. This, of course, is a direct result of the manufacturers being involved in the sport – already they have used such systems on production cars and it makes sense for them to get their own private testing ground, F1, to help them develop the idea further.


This should be anathema to anyone interested in seeing F1 continue as a sport; the fans look forward with hope to the standardized ECU as a means of getting rid of traction control and now it emerges that the FIA is talking to the car industry about allowing stability control in F1. Nothing could more clearly illustrate the way in which the FIA has sold its soul to big money in the form of the manufacturers. Stability control will do much more than traction control in reducing the influence of driving skill as a factor in races – it will make the driver a mere passenger without opportunity to demonstrate his skill. Where is the sport in that?

It is quite apparent that the aims of motor sport and car manufacture are mutually incompatible. The primary intent of F1 must always be competition between drivers and nothing the FIA can do or say will alter that fact in the minds of those who care about the sport. The manufacturers, however, are in F1 only to demonstrate to potential customers that their designs are the best – a marketing exercise, in other words. They do not care about the sporting aspects and would be betraying their company’s interests if they did.

The irony lies in the fact that, as the cars become laden with driver aids in the cause of “relevance to the production of road vehicles”, the fans will drift away because the human element, the drivers, are no longer competing in any meaningful way. Once the viewing public has dwindled to the point of insignificance, the manufacturers will leave and put their money elsewhere.

At which point we might, just might, get our sport back, if there is anything left to salvage. My fear is that a governing body as blind to the obvious as the FIA is showing itself to be will find a way to make things even worse.

In a way, it is good that these matters are becoming apparent now, rather than later. As sanity at last begins to make an appearance in the global warming debate, the FIA’s commitment to “green-ness” will be shown up for the subservience to the manufacturers that it is. Once their credibility as a governing body is destroyed (and it is fairly rocky already), it might become apparent that the only change that is needed is in the way F1 is governed and by whom.

Hopefully, that will happen before all the idiotic rule changes they have lined up can come into effect.

6 Responses to “Does the FIA Need Stability Control?”

  1. It would be lovely, would it not, to have a parallel series: possibly named FA1, in which the cars would be as they were several decades past, when drivers were artists more than technicians.

    I expect that many of us who respect and enjoy F1 also enjoy some of the other motorsports that function with lesser degrees of technology. There is room in the world for NASCAR, and OFF-ROAD, and SPORTS CARS, etc., etc. Hopefully, F1 will change management and will follow NASCAR’s example of superbly skillful self-promotion.

    Meanwhile, some of the best racing around these days is vintage and classic. Ah-h-h… the fragrance of Castrol R in the air.

  2. How right you are, Barry. That smell has the power to take me back instantly to the days of my youth.

    And, as you say, motor sport is made up of many different forms of racing, all of which are valid and many of which are more fun. Perhaps we should let the FIA have its manufacturer-dominated formula and devise another world championship in which the rules are similar to the ones in force thirty or forty years ago – with development and innovation permitted but only a set amount of money allowed to finance each team. But don’t ask me how you’d police it!

  3. This just further proves that FIA believes they are above their fan base. I would like to find one fan that believes that bringing SC into the sport would make it anymore interesting.

    On the other hand, I think having a second series would only ruin Formula 1 similar to what happened to CART here in the US. F1 is the pinnacle of motor sports and it needs to stay that way. Having a more competitive series based on skill as opposed to technology would steal many of the best drivers as they would rather race there where their skill really is the deciding factor.

    The FIA needs to get its head on straight and realize that without the manufacturers running the show, the sport survives. Without the fans it dies.

  4. Good points, Dan, and a reminder to me that I shouldn’t get too depressed about the situation. We must continue the fight against the worst excesses of the FIA! In the end, the fans will vote with their feet and, if there are no fans, the FIA become irrelevant.

  5. Good points – the motor manufacturers are only able to get away with suggesting such a thing because most casual fans don’t actually understand the significance of stability control. Therefore the best that can be done is for those who know and care about this sport to object as noisily as possible. I’m kind of encouraged by the fact that not only has Mark Hughes run a couple of pieces on this in Autosport, but the BBC have picked up on it as well (see )

    As someone who has mucked around with racing simulators a bit, when one switches off the traction control, one soon learns to compensate. Switch off stability control, and your performance instantly takes a huge hit – stability control would fundamentally destroy the racing driver’s art to a much greater degree.

  6. Making a noise is what the internet is all about, after all – the political bloggers have shown that it is possible to make things happen if the noise gets loud enough. And that applies to F1 as much anything else. Spot on, Patrick.

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