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FIA President's Letter - February 2021

In February, I worked closely with our teams, in Paris and Geneva. On the agenda: the calendar for the year and for our organisation. These weeks provided a good opportunity for reflection in order to best prepare for the upcoming objectives. During the course of 2021, we will have to continue to be flexible and creative to address the challenges that we will come up against, in particular regarding the competition calendar and the management of sporting and other events.

Speaking of the future, the first F1 Commission meeting under the chairmanship of Stefano Domenicali was held online on 11 February. A number of key topics related to future sporting, technical and financial regulations were discussed: the introduction of the cost cap in Formula 1 in 2021, a reminder on the importance of fans for our sport, which obliges us to invent weekend formats that are even more exciting and specially designed, the increase of tyre tests from 25 to 30 days, a freeze on engine specifications from 2022 to 2024, and confirmation of Formula 1 and a number of teams reaching the highest FIA environmental accreditation level, among other items.

Of course, a draft calendar was discussed. It will be confirmed in agreement with the promoters. The strict anti-COVID-19 protocols implemented last year will ensure that races can be held and make it possible to anticipate the next months with confidence. In talking about FIA Championships, we should also talk about WEC, in which the Hypercar category was presented in February. The Endurance Commission president, Richard Mille, summarised the FIA and ACO joint project perfectly: “The Le Mans Hypercar must satisfy both the manufacturers and the fans, which translates into impressive cars and a high level of competition”. Launched in 2018, it is about to make its debut: on 4 April at the 8 Hours of Portimão in Portugal.

Another date to be celebrated in the motor sport world: the inaugural races of the Formula E Championship, which from now on will have “World” in its title, took place on 26 and 27 February in Diriyah, Saudi Arabia. They were won by Nyck de Vries (Mercedes-Benz
EQ) and Sam Bird (Panasonic Jaguar Racing). The country will host, for the first time ever, an F1 Grand Prix next November in Jeddah.

In WRC, in place of Rally Sweden, traditionally the second round of the season, but that was cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Championship opted for the Arctic Rally Finland, with a new event on snow that I had the pleasure of attending. Congratulatations to Ott Tänak and Martin Järveoja on Hyundai for their victory. My congratulations also go to the organisers of the two 2021 winter and summer rallies: our Club AKK-Motorsport and its president Jarmo Mahonen, in addition to the promoter Jona Siebel. At the finish of the race, we paid tribute to Hannu Mikkola, who passed away on February 26th. A sad news for the Rally family. Hannu Mikkola was a legendary driver and a lifelong friend, 1983 WRC World Champion, 7-time 1000 Lakes winner. I’ve had the privilege to be his co-driver. In 1975, we ran the Arctic Rally on Fiat 124. Our thoughts are with his loved ones.

Rallies were also at the heart of the action of the FIA Innovation Fund (FIF). Established in December 2017, the goal of this fund is to support and finance high-impact projects by drawing on the four societal pillars of #PurposeDriven: health and safety, diversity and inclusion, the environment, and community development.

Among them, FIA Rally Star aims to identify young drivers between 17 and 26 years of age who have high potential. The initial selections were organised in Finland (13 February) and Georgia (14 February). Forty countries have already confirmed their commitment to this programme. Well done ASNs! FIA Rally Star is open to the thousands of gamers who are connected through the WRC 9 game; the first #RallyAtHome Challenge was launched on 27 February. Anyone can sign up on the FIA Rally Star website:

Also under the FIF umbrella: the FIA Motorsport Games which, after a one year absence, will be back at the Circuit Paul Richard in Autumn 2021 with 18 disciplines instead of the initial 6, and the new Sport Clubs Development Programme. The purpose of the programme is to manage and assist Club development. Applications can now be submitted. The FIF also supports Mobility programmes, such as the VIAFIA Tourism platform launched during the December General Assembly. Each of you will be able to benefit from two months of free premium access to check out its features. The dates vary depending on your geographical location:
Europe - 3 March to 27 April
Americas - 10 March to 5 May
Africa - 24 March to 19 May
Asia-Pacific - 7 April to 2 June
I urge you to take advantage of this offer. These eight weeks will give you the chance to determine which plan best meets your needs. At the same time, VIAFIA is working on providing weekly updates per country of practical information related to the COVID-19 regulations, the border situation and car import conditions.

I would like to take this opportunity to remind you that, as part of the FIA solidarity programme, launched at the beginning of the COVID-19 crisis, and to help our ASNs and ACNs restart their activities, a grassroots toolkit guide was presented during a webinar on 10 February. It provides guidance for clubs that wish to expand what they offer through activities that are affordable and easy to set up, under the highest safety conditions.

For its part, the FIA Safety Department is working on new projects aimed at better protecting drivers and co-drivers during a race accident – in particular, lateral collisions into a tree that result in serious or fatal injuries. In order to help ASNs and event organisers avoid such tragedies, the 2021 edition of the FIA Rally Safety Guidelines is now available on the FIA website in English, French and Spanish, and the German, Portuguese and Italian versions will be available shortly. I encourage you to familiarise yourself with them.

February gave us a chance to clarify things – the schedule, new rules, the start of the season – on the motor sport side and to launch innovative projects on the mobility side. Along with our Clubs, we are now eagerly awaiting the month of March, which will see the opening of the Formula 1 season and new prospects in terms of sustainable mobility. In the meantime, stay safe and take care.

Yours sincerely,

Jean Todt
FIA President