FIA: Unlocking motor sport’s potential



With FIA pushing for grassroots motor sports development and Road Safety as a priority by all nations, the first ever FIA Sport Conference was truly a relevant and quite timely event for our country to host.

The Automobile Association of the Philippines, along with our country’s leading oil company, Petron, San Miguel Corporation, Department of Tourism, BMW Philippines and Hyundai Asia Resources, cannot be given enough credit for their tremendous effort to bring the conference here. Here is our final take on what happened in the final days of the conference.

Learn from others

“Learn from each other – we have so many varieties of clubs here; small, medium, big and very big. Putting all of our clubs together, all of our know-how together will allow us to be a strong federation,” said FIA President Mr. Jean Todt during the closing ceremonies.

“Fresh blood is absolutely essential—we have a community which is developing, and it can only develop by having young people. We have a lot of new members of commissions, new presidents of commissions who are young, and that’s very important to secure the future of the organization.”

Thank you

President Todt also warmly thanked the FIA’s local hosts for making the first FIA Sport Conference to be held in Asia such a memorable one. “Thank you to the Automobile Association Philippines. Gus, you wanted it, you got it—and you did it well. Thank you to you and your team.” Todt was referring to AAP’s President Gus Lagman and Petron’s Chairman Ramon S. Ang’s hosting of the event.

Lagman also spoke of AAP’s pride in hosting the conference. “We thank the FIA for giving us this opportunity to host this event. It was an enjoyable and exciting experience for us at AAP.”

Digital technology

The final plenary session on Wednesday focused on technology and how it could help motor sports. Mehul Kapadia, Managing Director of F1 Business and part of Tata Communications, explained the shift in the digital and broadcast focus for Formula One.

“The journey of the last six years has been the journey of the digital transformation of Formula One,” said Mr. Kapadia. “Preparing the foundation for high-quality transmission through 4K, ultra-HD, doing things like the live OTT [Over-The-Top].”

“While we focus on people who are currently the fans, it’s the next five years that will determine the future of the sport—if you look at that segment, they’re all about micro-experiences. They want to ‘dip in’ and ‘dip out’ when they want, they want it on their terms and their time, and that’s where delivering content directly is going to bring in a lot of value.”

Electric drivetrains

The future of the motor sports’ drivetrains was also a hot topic with Nissan officially entering the FIA Formula E Championship this year. Nissan’s Global motor sports director, Michael Carcamo, spoke about why it is such a good fit for the brand.

“Transportation mobility is changing, and will continue to change. We have to remember the goal and objective—for us it’s about zero emissions for sustainability and the environment, but also about zero fatalities, because we really shouldn’t accept that any human has to die in an automobile, and we want to be a pioneer,” revealed Carcamo.

“We’re really excited to be in Formula E, because for us it’s a natural progression from the road to the track. Just like Formula One or any other kind of motor sport, racing allows high-speed development, it allows cycle times which are just not possible in a normal production environment.”

E race vehicles

The president of the FIA Electric and New Energy Championships Commission, Burkhard Goeschel, spoke about the electric applications for electric race vehicles. “We are talking about electrification everywhere. Formula E was an outcome of our activities and now we are initiating further steps, like e-rallycross or e-karting.”

“A future issue that we are thinking about is Fuel Cell racing—when should it come, when is it matured enough to go into motor sport. I see an opportunity for long distance racing. If we are stepping over to zero emissions in motor sport, maybe for 24 hours racing or something like that, then a fuel cell, in my opinion, can become interesting. It’s future technology, the industry is working on it, so why not?”

Safety above all

The new helmet standards were also announced by Nuno Costa, FIA’s Head of Safety Homologation and said that tough helmets just got a whole lot tougher. The introduction of the new FIA 8860-2018 has been driven by accidents such as that of Felipe Massa at the 2009 Hungarian Grand Prix, where his helmet was struck by a loose spring at 220kph.

This is one of the reasons for the most noticeable change—the visor opening being lowered to incorporate increased ballistic protection in the frontal area. The new ultra protective standard also offers increased energy absorption and an extended area of protection for drivers, and will be mandatory for F1 from 2019, with other championships to follow.

Another new innovation delivered by the FIA Safety Department, under the stewardship of Peter Wright, President of the FIA Safety Commission, is the Additional Frontal Protection or “Halo” now in F1 and F2. One such validation occurred last month, in the Formula 2 race at the Spanish Grand Prix, when an incident between Tadasuke Makino and Nirei Fukuzumi saw the latter’s car launch up and on top of Makino.

“The Halo we were very well aware was not going to be popular. The extraordinary thing was that within three months of its introduction, we have an accident in which the Halo demonstrated the fact that it probably prevented a fatality—certainly a very serious injury. Without it, the rear wheel of the car would probably have struck his helmet.”

In this case, the net improvement by the FIA’s safety ‘standard bearer’ is all too apparent,” shared by Mr. Wright.

Driving exhibition

The new FIA X Cross car was given a good run by an FIA French driver and our own Asian Gymkhana Milo Rivera. The E karts had F1 Driver and new FIA Karting President Felipe Massa doing demo runs along with young Filipino drivers and the FIA delegates. There were also demo runs of Drifting and Gymkhana that are good examples of grassroots development.

The first ever FIA Sport Conference in Asia had just concluded and we are very fortunate to be chosen as the first venue in Asia to be given the honor to host such a prestigious international event. We hope that this will now herald a bigger growth of our beloved sport in the near future. Thank you to all that worked especially FIA for this experience. Long live motor sports!

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