Todt defends 'miracle' 2019 F1 changes
FIA president Jean Todt has moved to defend the governing body against criticism of recently announced changes to Formula 1's aerodynamic regulations for the 2019 season.
By reducing downforce levels, chiefly through a simplified front wing, the FIA hopes to improve overtaking, but Sebastian Vettel described the situation as "a bit comical", since F1 only introduced last season the high-downforce rules package it is now having to unpick.
"We hear all the time from the drivers that the cars can't get close to each other," said Todt.
"I read the press conference transcripts, they all complain. And they're [racing] in the front. Can you imagine what it's like at the back?
"I feel that if we understand that something is wrong we should try to find a solution.
"We all say we want to have a better sport, a better show, so let's do something.
Will 'miracle' F1 vote actually improve F1?
"On one side people say 'let's wait for 2021' [when the 2017 high-downforce rules were originally intended to be replaced], so we would go through 2018, '19 and '20 knowing that there's a problem which is damaging the sport.
"In this case we asked some relevant engineers to address the problem. They explained that as the car is getting closer, because of the aero at the front, unless it is over 1.5s [per lap faster] you cannot have any overtaking.
"So you speak with the engineers and you say, 'Do you think we can do something to improve the situation?' And they said they could."
Before making its formal proposal for the 2019 changes the FIA invited teams to use their in-house aerodynamic resources to research potential solutions, making this arguably the most evidence-based regulatory change in F1's history.
"We are trying to make the sport better," said Todt. "We try, using the proper governance - which as you know is not the easiest thing in Formula 1 - to make a proposal.
"That's why we made this proposal and by a miracle it was accepted."
Some drivers, including Vettel and Daniel Ricciardo, have expressed frustration at not being more involved in the conceptual process, especially those intended to generate more overtaking.
"I have no idea what they've changed," said Ricciardo of the 2019 rules.
"I don't know whether it's up to us, but we shouldn't have to ask 'can you involve us?', because we're the ones driving and, while we're not engineers, we're the ones who know what's going on in a racing situation.
"We should be consulted about it or our opinions should be heard.
"A lot of us might agree but we know our teams won't, and that's where it's hard."
But Todt hit back by pointing out that drivers haven't taken up opportunities to become involved.
"I've always, all the time, tried to hear what the drivers were saying," he said. "And the drivers were invited to participate. I invited [them] to do something.
"I respect them, but they have access and unfortunately very often there is a meeting and they don't come to the meeting.
"We are inviting and welcoming drivers to participate. It's up to the drivers."