- The Inside Line
Inside the FIA's AGAKate Walker December 6, 2013
Sitting in the lobby of the InterContinental Le Grand in Paris, watching the delegates gather for the FIA's annual general assembly, what is immediately striking is the diversity of the attendees.
Given that the FIA is the International Automobile Federation, diversity shouldn't come as much of a surprise. As was demonstrated by recent reports about the labyrinthine election process, the FIA is a truly global organisation, divided into regions with representatives from 237 clubs in 130 countries.
But having spent the past eight months in the mostly white, mostly male environment of the F1 paddock, it is refreshing to see that however monochrome the sport, the wider world of motorsport and mobility is represented by a broad mix of nationalities and cultures.
Behind closed doors, the delegates are voting in the FIA elections, a one-horse race which will be won by incumbent president Jean Todt. But today's AGA is merely the last hurrah in a full week of meetings held in Paris since 2 December, with events coming to an official end at tonight's Prize-Giving Gala.
As tends to be the case at FIA events, road safety has been high on the agenda, with particular attention paid to the topic by delegates from Scandinavia - keen to fight drunk driving and texting while driving on the region's roads - and the clubs from Central and South America, who were reflecting on a successful year of cooperation with the World Bank and the Inter-American Development Bank in their shared fight to reduce the number of road traffic deaths on the continent.
On a more general note, the clubs also discussed changes to the membership process, with new member clubs now required to pay an application fee as a statement of intent. It was concluded that the new process will strengthen the Federation by allowing existing member clubs to determine the seriousness of a prospective application while enabling them to gauge the resources of applicant clubs before the two-year associate membership period expires.
Of specific interest to Formula One was a meeting in which a group of F1 stewards met to review the 2013 season, discussing how best to ensure consistency of decision-making moving forwards. On the agenda was the hot-button issue of track boundaries and advantage gained, a rule whose application had a definite impact on the season-ending race in Sao Paulo.
The meeting followed in-season discussions between drivers, team personnel, and Charlie Whiting, with all parties giving their advice on how best to ensure that decisions were consistent and the punishments applied were uniform. The stewards also took the opportunity to review and discuss the 2014 regulations.